Gordon Smiths late winner saved Hearts blushes as they narrowly defeated Auchinleck Talbot 1-0 at Tynecastle to book their place in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup on Saturday. Scottish Junior side Auchinleck looked to be heading to pulling off one of the competitions biggest shock results after holding the Scottish Premier League side for the majority of the match before conceding late on.
Their goalkeeper Andy Leishman had been the hero for the minnows when he saved a penalty from Hearts debutant Fraser Mullan in the 20th minute. But his penalty joy turned to heartbreak six minutes from time when Smith fired home for Hearts after the keeper dropped the ball in a collision with his own captain, Bryan Slaven.
Auchinleck thought they had grabbed an equaliser five minutes into stoppage time when Gordon Pope had the ball in the back of the net but was ruled offside by referee John Beaton. Hearts manager Paolo Sergio denied being nervous during the game. "It wasnt a close match. It was 90 minutes of Hearts attacking so when you are doing that you are not nervous," the Portuguese said. "We were expecting any minute that we would score. But I have to congratulate our opposition as they made it hard for us."
Fellow Premier League side Aberdeen progressed to the fifth round with a convincing 4-0 victory over bottom of the Second Division Forfar Athletic. Having been knocked out the League Cup by East Fife earlier in the season the Dons avoided another embarrassment as goals from Scott Vernon, Mohamed Chalali, Rory Fallon and Mitch Megginson saw them through.
High flying Motherwell made sure of their spot in the next round with a comprehensive 4-0 win over third Division opponents Queens Park at Fir Park. St Johnstone booked their place in the next round with a 2-1 win over Second Division Brechin. Jonny Russell scored a hat-trick as Dundee United swept aside Second Division Airdrie United 6-2. Hibernian had to come from behind to claim their first victory under new manager Pat Fenlon as they narrowly defeated Second Division league leaders Cowdenbeath 3-2.
Kilmarnock had goalkeeper Cammy Bell to thank as he saved a second half penalty to earn his side a 1-1 draw with First Division rivals Dundee. Steven Milne thought he had given Dundee the lead in the 15th minute but his effort was ruled out for offside before Manuel Pascali headed Killie ahead in the 32nd minute. Milne did get on the score sheet a minute after the break when he poked home an equaliser before Bell saved Matt Lockwoods late penalty.
Ross County, finalists in 2010, scored six second half goals to thrash Second Division opponents Stenhousemuir 7-0. St Mirren and Hamilton will have to do it all again at New Douglas Park after a goalless draw in Paisley.