Scottish Cup final: 'Great day for provincial clubs'

Inverness CT will be playing in their first Scottish Cup final
Inverness CT will be playing in their first Scottish Cup final

There may well be empty seats at Hampden Park on 30 May but the Inverness CT v Falkirk Scottish Cup final will be a special day.

That's the view of former Caley Thistle midfielder Barry Wilson.

"I think it's great for Scottish football that two provincial clubs are in the final," said Wilson.

"It's probably not what the sponsors would want, you'll be lucky if Hampden is half full, but it's still a great occasion for these clubs."

Falkirk beat Championship rivals Hibernian 1-0 on Saturday, while Inverness CT won 3-2 in an extra-time thriller against Celtic at the national stadium on Sunday.

It will be the Bairns' fifth final and they are aiming for a third success, while the Highland side will end their 20th season in existence by sampling the event for the first time.

Inverness recovered from losing the first goal against Celtic, although there was a moment of controversy when the officials failed to notice Caley Thistle defender Josh Meekings using an arm to stop a close-range Leigh Griffiths.

And the match turned in the underdogs' favour when Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon was sent off when conceding the penalty from which Greg Tansey levelled.

Edward Ofere and David Raven got the extra-time goals for the Highlanders either side of John Guidetti's free-kick.

"It was a fantastic performance, although it's been a little overshadowed by the back pages," Wilson, 43, told BBC Scotland.

"It's the usual media sensationalism. I think we all agree it was a penalty.

"But on many occasions the bigger clubs get these decisions and it doesn't detract from what was an excellent Caley Thistle performance."

Inverness CT are also on course for a highest league finish as they go into the Premiership split sitting comfortably in third place.

Around 5,000 Falkirk fans cheered their team on at Hampden in their semi-final
Around 5,000 Falkirk fans cheered their team on at Hampden in their semi-final

"They have had a fantastic season," added Wilson. "Yes, they've been off the boil lately, without a win in seven league games, so it was a big test.

"And I thought they came through with flying colours.

"The way they passed the ball, kept possession. Even when it was 11 v 11.

"But, when it went to 11 v 10, they really used the width of the pitch well and dictated the play, they had so much possession against a very good Celtic team."

With the Championship campaign due to finish on 2 May and Falkirk likely to miss out on the play-offs, manager Peter Houston is planning on giving his players a week-long holiday before focusing on the final.

"It gives me plenty of time to go and study Inverness," he told BBC Scotland. "But it may be a problem for us finding teams to play friendlies against.

"I was looking forward to it no matter who got through, but now it's Inverness I think that gives us a better chance of creating a shock.

"Inverness are a very good side and they had a real go at Celtic."