Saints ease into fifth round

Jack Wilshere felt Arsenal answered some of their critics with a

5-2 demolition of Reading at the Madejski stadium.

Arsene Wenger and his team had come under intense scrutiny

following their ignominious Capital One defeat at Bradford last

week, but they re-discovered some of their free-flowing spirit in a

morale-boosting performance.

“It was tough last week after the disappointing result at

Bradford. We had to be strong as they are a tough team who are

fighting relegation,” said Wilshere.

“Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla were different class.

“Any sort of victory tonight would have been welcomed. The boss

put three up front and it worked.

“The club is very strong. The way we played, I think we saw some

of the old Arsenal tonight. We needed to bounce back and we must

push on now. We have got a difficult game at Wigan coming up

now.

Walcott played through the middle and was rewarded for an

enterprising display with a goal, although that was overshadowed by

a sublime hat-trick from the peerless Cazorla.

Walcott said: “We don’t really take notice of the outside. We’re

a big family and we know our quality and that we’re good

enough.

“I enjoyed playing up front and the boss gave me that

opportunity. I thought I did very well and the players around me

always make my job easier.”

As to his protracted contract talks, Walcott added: “Talks are

ongoing and it’s going to be a slow process. It’s taking a long

time but hopefully something will happen soon.”

Wilshere is especially eager to hasten the process, and joked:

“I’ve been working all year on him.

“But that’s between Theo, his representatives and the boss but

hopefully we can sign him up.

“He showed he can do it up front and hopefully he can play there

in the future.”

The First Division side held Steve Lomas’ men at bay for 45

minutes but the Perth outfit slowly eroded their hosts’ resolve

after the break.

David McCracken stole in to open the scoring in the 54th minute

and the Blue Brazil soon contrived to offer the SPL side a second

goal.

Steven MacLean obliged from the penalty spot when Thomas Flynn

fouled Murray Davidson in the 76th minute, before Gregory Tade

ensured the Saints’ safe passage to Paisley with a close-range

finish three minutes from time.

Hamilton will play Dunfermline in the last 16 after overcoming

fellow First Division outfit Dumbarton 3-1 at the Bet Butler

Stadium.

Alister Crawford put the visitors ahead with a stunning effort

in the 24th minute, before Michael Devlin doubled Hamilton’s

advantage four minutes before the break.

Dumbarton’s players rallied after the interval, though, setting

up Chris Turner to head home from close range in the 57th minute,

but Accies substitute Grant Gillespie struck from deep inside the

penalty area with 75 minutes on the clock.

The Sons’ chances of success suffered a further setback when

Turner saw red three minutes later and Hamilton progressed to the

next round.

Peter Weatherson scored a hat-trick as Morton earned a trip to

Dundee with a resounding 6-0 win over Highland Football League

hopefuls Turriff United.

It took 37 minutes for Morton to open the scoring through

Weatherson but the First Division outfit would not look back.

Michael Tidser registered his first goal from the penalty spot

in first-half stoppage time following Ross Anderson’s foul, adding

a second from long range in the 63rd minute.

Morton were out of sight when substitute Peter MacDonald found

the back of the net in the 77th minute, Weatherson quickly laying

claim to the matchball with two goals in the last 10 minutes.

The visitors will face St Mirren in Paisley in the next round

thanks to goals from David McCracken, Steven MacLean and Gregory

Tade.

Cowdenbeath’s Central Park was able to host the tie at the fifth

time of asking, and the Irn-Bru First Division side can be proud of

a competitive performance, even if they were ultimately undone by

the superiority of the visitors.

Having played out a pulsating 2-2 draw with Hearts in the

Clydesdale Bank Premier League two days ago, St Johnstone boss

Steve Lomas opted to shake things up with five changes to his

starting line-up.

Weary legs were of greater concern to Cowdenbeath player-manager

Colin Cameron. The former Scottish international omitted himself

from the starting line-up after featuring in his side’s 2-0 defeat

at Falkirk on Saturday, their first game in three weeks.

The ring rusty part-timers submitted the running of the play to

their full-time counterparts but created an effective wall between

St Johnstone and their goal frame, with the early chances for the

SPL side coming from long range.

No clear-cut chances were forthcoming in the opening 30 minutes

– and it was the hosts who came closest to opening the scoring.

Slack play in the centre led to a Cowdenbeath break with Mark

McKenzie being given sufficient time to whip in a deep cross from

the left. Lewis Coult’s cushioned header found Dean Brett but the

attacker’s drilled shot went past the far post.

With the hosts finding their feet the game opened up and Liam

Craig was granted too much space in a central area where he cracked

the post from 20 yards out.

At the other end McKenzie went close with a low shot which

evaded the far post before Lewis Milne led a counter-attack that

ended with a powerful drive from 25 yards that Alan Mannus did well

to tip over the crossbar.

Either side of the interval the visitors were wasteful in front

of goal with Nigel Hasselbaink meekly passing into the arms of

goalkeeper Thomas Flynn, before Tade rolled an effort from the edge

of the box wide of the target.

The visitors finally found their route to goal in the 54th

minute. With the imposing Joe Mbu off the park receiving treatment,

Cowdenbeath failed to sufficiently deal with a set-piece and were

lucky to clear for a corner.

Their luck ran out though – although Flynn pulled off an

outstanding save to deny Steven Anderson, the ball was knocked out

to McCracken who drilled the ball through a ruck of bodies and into

the net.

The following 10 minutes saw St Johnstone waste two great

chances to settle the tie.

Hasselbaink’s low drive from 15 yards was blocked by his own

team-mate, a wandering Tade, then Anderson headed over from almost

underneath the opposition crossbar.

The visitors’ wastefulness almost cost them immediately with

McKenzie being sent free on the right – but once again Cowdenbeath

saw a low effort inch just wide of the far post.

It was through the aid of the referee’s whistle that St

Johnstone saw their passage assured.

Flynn was adjudged to have brought down Murray Davidson after

the midfielder had raced onto Craig Beattie’s pass and attempted to

round the keeper – and MacLean despatched the resulting spot-kick

into the bottom corner.

Tade rounded off the win three minutes from time when he broke

the offside trap, rounded Flynn and rolled the ball into an empty

net – staking a claim for a starting place in this Saturday’s match

at Aberdeen in the process.