Let me begin by giving a tip of the cap to Dunfermline Athletic, they worked hard over the two legs of this tie and County earn their advancement to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup, particularly to former County player Joe Cardle who was among the best the Pars had to offer- as he has been all season. The League One leaders should have no problem being automatically promoted back to the Scottish Championship with continued determined efforts such as they’ve shown in their two matches against County.
The fourth round replay at Victoria Park in Dingwall was a ragged affair much of the time with both sides spurning easy chances throughout the first half and well into the second half, with Dunfermline’s Faissel El-Bahktaoui and County’s Brian Graham among the guilty parties. In fact, it was a missed opportunity by El-Bahktaoui that led to the winning goal for County.
Only moments after El-Bahktaoui’s miss County charged up the pitch and Michael Gardyne (of course) whipped in a cross that substitute Raffa De Vita hit on the volley to give County the lead and the eventual win. It’s worth nothing that De Vita had the time and space to uncork his shot because of the hard work Brian Graham had been doing since the opening whistle. Graham and Alex Schalk will probably return to the bench when Craig Curran and Liam Boyce are fit again but they are, at the very least, doing enough to keep County afloat in the Cup and the league until then.
County will now face the winner of the Forfar Athletic or Linlithgow Rose replay in the next round. And speaking of that next round…
I’m not going to go as far as tipping County to win the Cup (though they’re already in the semi-finals of the League Cup!), but the fifth round could see the exit of numerous Premiership and Championship sides: One half of the Edinburgh Derby will be gone, if Caley get past Stirling Albion either they or Motherwell will be out, one half of the Dundee United-Partick Thistle tie will be out, and one half of the Kilmarnock-Rangers tie will be out. Now, if the winner of Lothian Hutchison-East Kilbride could just take care of Celtic in the next round…
Finally, a non-cup related item: Liam Boyce won the Premiership’s “Player of the Month” award for December- well done and well deserved!
(notice I said nothing about Jonathan Franks’ performance yesterday? Yeesh, son.)