There could be a shock in today's Scottish Cup final between top- flight Hearts and third-tier Gretna, according to the Hearts midfielder, Paul Hartley. "We won't underestimate them," the Scotland international said yesterday. "Our attitude has got to be spot on and our work-rate has to be the same as it's been all season. If we do that, then we'll win the match. But if we're off the pace or off the boil at all, then there could be a shock." It is an accurate summation. On pure ability, man-for-man, and on their best form, Hearts should win, and comfortably. In their most impressive matches this season, they have stormed into early leads.
However, Gretna have not achieved back-to-back promotions or reached the Cup final by accident. They took four First Division scalps on the way to Hampden. They have a good mix of senior, experienced professionals and younger, ambitious players who have every incentive today to make history - and a name for themselves. They are expecting early pressure and have a genuine belief that if they are still in contention at half-time, they will win.
Hearts' interim coach, Valdas Ivanauskas, has few injury worries, and has included Andy Webster in his squad. The Scotland defender has missed the last six games due to a combination of contractual problems with the club and an Achilles injury and it would be a surprise if he started.
Hearts' influential Czech winger, Rudi Skacel, will play what is almost certain to be his last match for the club today. …