Scottish Cup 2019-20: A tale of goals, shocks and familiar faces

By Clive LindsayBBC Sport Scotland
Hearts face Hibs and Celtic play Aberdeen in this weekend's Scottish Cup semi-finals
Hearts face Hibs and Celtic play Aberdeen in this weekend's Scottish Cup semi-finals

The 2019-20 Scottish Cup started in August of last year. It will be almost two months before a winner is decided. This weekend, we finally reach the semi-final stage.

Sixteen months will have elapsed by the time of the proposed final on 20 December, making it the longest-ever Scottish Cup to be played to a conclusion.

But who will be in that winter showpiece? Hearts will face Edinburgh rivals Hibernian on Saturday, and Aberdeen take on holders Celtic the following day, with all four vying for a return trip to Hampden.

As we prepare for those matches, let's remind ourselves of what has gone in the 14 months to date.

Goals galore

From the preliminary round on 10 August 2019, when Jeanfield Swifts hammered East of Scotland League rivals Coldstream 9-1 away from home and Girvan and Lochee United each scored seven, the competition has been brimming with goals.

Take the fifth-round replay between Motherwell and St Mirren, where the latter let slip a 4-1 half-time lead only to hold their nerve better in the penalty shootout.

The following evening was even more nail-biting as semi-finalists Aberdeen scored in stoppage time at the end of 90 minutes and at the same stage in extra time to secure a 4-3 replay win at Kilmarnock.

Overall, there have been 399 goals in 112 games - 49 more than the whole competition last time round - with the average goals per game rising to 3.56 from 3.33 the previous season.

Goals graphic

Early shocks but most big guns progress

BBC Scotland's live coverage started in the first round, as Auchinleck Talbot swept aside future Lowland League champions Kelty Hearts 3-0 to set the trend of mini-shocks in the early stages.

The Junior Cup holders would go on to take the scalp of Cove Rangers - the eventual League 2 winners - and give Championship side Arbroath a scare before exiting after a replay.

Meanwhile, two teams from the sixth-tier East of Scotland League humiliated League 2 sides 3-0, as Penicuik Athletic dumped out Stenhousemuir and Broxburn Athletic got the better of Cowdenbeath, albeit after a replay.

That narrowing gap was again emphasised in the third round as Lowland League teams ousted sides chasing a promotion play-off place in League 1. Bonnyrigg Rose edged out Montrose 2-1, while BSC Glasgow recorded a 4-3 victory at East Fife.

Championship side Queen of the South were stunned 2-1 at home by League 2 amateurs Queen's Park, but once the Premiership sides joined the fray in the fourth round, the upsets quickly dried up.

BSC beat Lowland League rivals East Kilbride, but were one of only five sides from outside the top flight to reach the last 16.

How did the semi-finalists reach Hampden?

Hearts: They started the competition in the Premiership under the newly appointed Daniel Stendel but take to the field in the semi-final in the second tier under the returning Robbie Neilson.

A 5-0 thumping of Airdrieonians was their first win under the German and was followed by a 1-0 grind at another League 1 side, Falkirk. Then came perhaps the highlight of a disappointing season as the now-departed Oliver Bozanic scored the only goal in a win over Rangers.

Hibernian: Jack Ross' side survived a tough test at the hands of eventual runaway Championship winners Dundee United before Christian Doidge's hat-trick secured a 4-2 replay win after a 2-2 draw.

The Easter Road side ended BSC Glasgow's cup fairytale with a routine 4-1 win in the next round, before an impressive 5-2 dismissal of second-tier promotion hopefuls Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Aberdeen: Derek McInnes' men needed a Sam Cosgrove penalty to secure a laboured 1-0 win over League 1 visitors Dumbarton before their campaign came to life with that replay win at Kilmarnock.

It took another Cosgrove penalty to finally end the challenge of St Mirren as a 2-0 win in Paisley secured a fourth Scottish Cup semi-final in a row.

Celtic: It was like an old-style Glasgow Cup in the early rounds for Neil Lennon's cup holders. First, they eased aside Championship hosts Partick Thistle 2-1, then doused League 1 side Clyde's hopes of repeating upset of 13 years earlier with a 3-0 success in Cumbernauld.

Quarter-final hosts St Johnstone proved more stubborn until Ryan Christie's late free-kick in Perth secured a 34th consecutive domestic cup win.

What's at stake?

'Hearts put me out of the cup so I'm getting a bye to the semis'

Having completed a historic treble treble of domestic trophies, Celtic can go one better should they lift the Scottish Cup for the 40th time.

Four is also the number of times Aberdeen have reached this stage in succession without ending their own 30-year wait to win the tournament for the eighth time. To reach their first final since 2017, they will have to end a run of seven semi-final or final defeats by Celtic stretching back to 1992.

Much has happened to Hearts since they lost the 2019 final to Celtic. Two managers later, they have been relegated to the second tier but head to Hampden buoyed by five consecutive victories.

Top-flight Hibs, who ended their 114-year wait for a third Scottish Cup final win in 2016, are themselves unbeaten in six but will still have the weight of history against them.

Hearts won their most recent meeting in March, won their last Scottish Cup duel in 2018, won the last time they met in a semi-final in 2006, and famously thumped their Edinburgh rivals 5-1 in the 2012 final - the last time they met at a neutral venue.

One record out of reach?

Penicuik Athletic winger Sean Stewart is the competition's top scorer with six goals, if you count the preliminary rounds. From the first round proper, the honour is shared between Inverurie Loco Works midfielder Christopher Angus and Broxburn Athletic striker Alexander Miller with five each.

So someone will have to bang in the goals in the semis and final if anyone is to match Queen of the South striker Stephen Dobbie's seven the previous season.

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