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<-Srce <-Type Hearts World ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Hearts Media auth-> Brian Winter
Thomson Craig [M Stewart 13] ;[C Finnigan 41] ;[R Flynn 80] ;[M Stewart 93]
3 of 008 Kevin Kyle pen 67 ;Suso Santana 74 ;Kevin Kyle 78 LC A

Hearts capitulate in Co-operative Insurance Cup classic
From Hearts News at The Falkirk Stadium

Hearts fans were put through every emotion familiar to die-hard football supporters as their side staged an epic comeback before eventually succumbing to defeat at the Falkirk Stadium.

The 4-3 score-line, in favour of the home side, knocked Hearts out of the Co-operative Insurance Cup but the Hearts' players deserve so much credit for a spirited ten-man fight-back after being two goals down at half-time.

Jim Jefferies decided to stick with the side that won the second half up in Inverness with Kevin Kyle replacing the injured Ian Black in the starting line-up. Falkirk made one change from the side which defeated Morton 2-1 at the weekend with Kallum Higginbotham replacing Mark Millar. The hosts went with an attacking line-up, matching Hearts with a 4-4-2 system with former Hibs striker Tam McManus partnering Carl Finnigan up front, although the former limped off after three minutes to be replaced by Mark Stewart.

The home side were fired up for this encounter and they showed their intentions within the first five minutes. Mark Twaddle caused havoc down the left hand side and his deflected cross found Carl Finnigan in space in the penalty area. The forward pulled his shot across goal were the ball was nearly turned home by a lunging Mark Stewart at the back post.

Question marks surrounded the Hearts' defence on Saturday and they reared their ugly head again on 13 minutes when Falkirk took the lead. Hearts allowed too much space for the ball to be played through the centre for Mark Stewart to out-sprint Darren Barr and blast the ball past the onrushing Marian Kello.

If the task wasn't hard enough Hearts were reduced to ten men on 28 minutes. Craig Thomson was shown a straight red card after tangling with Carl Finnigan on the half way line. The Hearts players were enraged by the decision.

Two minutes before half-time the home side found themselves two goals to the good. Mark Stewart outpaced Darren Barr at the back before being forced out wide. The forward moved the ball back before Falkirk worked the play into the penalty area where Carl Finnigan found acres of space to side-foot the ball into the corner of the net.

Hearts carved open Falkirk for their first meaningful chance of the game a minute before the interval. A short corner between David Templeton and Suso wasn't picked up by the home side as Templeton skipped into the penalty area. The winger's front post shot was saved by Falkirk keeper Robert Olejnik.

Five minutes into the second half Kevin Kyle won his side a free-kick on the edge of the box. Ryan Stevenson claimed possession of the ball and smashed the free-kick high towards Robert Olejnik's left hand corner. The strike had the keeper beaten but it sailed past the post.

Two minutes later Suso was released by Kevin Kyle down the right hand side. With nobody to aim for in the box, the Spaniard cut inside with an eye for goal. His first shot was block, as was his second attempt. But as the ball cannoned away to safety the player and the Hearts' fans were furious as they feel the ball had been denied a route to goal by the arm of a Falkirk defender.

On the hour-mark Mark Stewart should have ended the game as a contest. Falkirk were looking to counter every Hearts attack and this particular time they sprinted forward in great numbers. With Higginbotham in acres on the right, space opened up through the middle and Stewart latched onto the through ball with a terrific chance to score. The striker opened up his body and aimed to curl it round Kello but could only sky the ball over the crossbar.

Suso Santana emerged from the tunnel in the second half like a man possessed. It was as if the score-line was a personal insult to the Spaniard and he went about putting that right. On 67 minutes Suso again ran right at the Falkirk back-line and won his side a penalty. The spot-kick was smashed into the roof of the net by Kevin Kyle to throw Hearts a lifeline.

Seven minutes later the possessed Spanish winger was at it again. Following a Stevenson corner on the right the ball broke out to Suso fifteen yards out. The winger muscled himself some space for a shot, fired at goal, found his shot blocked but got to the rebound. Suso hammered the ball this time, found the back post and even a Falkirk player on the line could not keep it out the equalising goal.

With twelve minutes of the match remaining the unthinkable happened as Hearts snatched the lead. Ryan Stevenson took the kick and hung up a deep cross to the far post. Kevin Kyle met the ball and thundered it in off the under-side of the crossbar. Cue bedlam in the away end.

The celebrations were short-lived as the Hearts' defence was sliced upon yet again. Two minutes was all they could hold onto the lead for before Ryan Flynn was afforded far too much space in the penalty area. The winger looked up and expertly curled the ball past Kello in at far post.

The ingredients that resulted in Hearts' third goal almost gave them a fourth with minutes remaining as Stevenson again found Kyle with a cross from a corner. This time the striker drove his header low into the ground but into the grateful arms of Olejnik.

The ninety minutes were almost at an end. Extra time was almost upon us. Then disaster struck.

Falkirk won a corner on the right. Everyone piled forward. Mark Twaddle found himself with a free header at the back post. He headed it back across goal. Mark Stewart knocked the ball home.

Falkirk: Olejnik; Marr (Duffie 45), McLean, Scobbie, Twaddle; Flynn, O'Brien, Higginbotham, Compton; McManus (Stewart 3), Finnigan. Subs not used: Barclay, Mitchell, Millar.

Hearts: Kello; C Thomson, Bouzid, Barr, Palazuelos; Suso, Stevenson, Jonsson, Templeton; Kyle, Elliot (Mrowiec 28). Subs not used: Balogh, Obua, Novikovas, Glen. Sent off: C Thomson

Referee: Brian Winter

Top man: Suso

Hearts World

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