United and County in Cup Final Showdown

The Active Nation Scottish Cup Final will have a different feel to it this weekend, and one that is most welcome.

Dundee United will take on Ross County on Saturday with it being only the second final for 12 years where an Old Firm side has not featured.

Some say a cup final north of the border is only appealing if neither or both halves of the Old Firm are participating in it.

This is true to a large extent because either Celtic or Rangers play the rest, they tend to do the business.

There is a sense of predictability when only one is involved, but this year we will have a refreshing change.

The last Scottish Cup Final involving two other sides was between Hearts and Gretna in 2006. Hearts had split the Old Firm that year and were odds on favourites to defeat the second division champions.

However, Hearts were not in good form and had almost managed to let slip a 17 point lead held at Christmas time over Rangers.

Gretna, on the other hand, were flying due to the late Brooks Mileson’s millions.

And so a one all draw wasn’t a great surprise, but Hearts still triumphed on penalties to complete a historic season.

So how will the 137th Cup final go?

Although United are favourites, I wouldn’t discount County yet. They have managed to knock-out Hibernian and Celtic on their way to their first ever major final.

Hibs and Celtic may have been in turmoil at the time when they faced the Highlanders, but they are still two of the top sides in the country, and some, at the early stages of the season, were even debating as to why Hibs could win the SPL, or, at least, split the Old Firm.

Against Hibs, County managed to battle back twice in the quarter-final tie and finally won it with a late goal in the replay up in Dingwall.

Nobody gave them a chance against Celtic, despite the Hoops problems, and they thoroughly deserved their two nil win, which, possibly, puts the result above their arch rival’s, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, cup shock over the same team.

Derek Adams has done a fantastic job with a team who have only been a professional league outfit for 16 years.

A fifth place finish in the First Division was respectable, and they will hope the monies generated from this year’s cup run will allow them to strengthen and push for promotion next year.

Meanwhile, Dundee United have enjoyed their best ever season in the SPL with a comfortable third place finish.

Peter Houston, since he took over the job from the now Scotland manager Craig Levein, has got the best out of a team, who, until this season, had failed to qualify for Europe through the league

His side may not be the most pleasing on the eye at times, but they are effective and get results. If it’s good enough for Rangers, then why not United?

They are a big, strong side whose main asset is set pieces. Craig Conway can put a great ball in and there is so much power in the team to attack the ball.

Saturday is a great opportunity for a side who have only tasted cup success once in their history – a one nil defeat of Rangers in 1995.

A win will turn a good season into a memorable one. Defeat, and there will be a sour taste left from the 2009/10 campaign.

With the big two absent, expect this final to be as dramatic as the one Hearts contested with Gretna four years ago.

Both camps know this could be their last chance of success for at least a generation, so expect it to be emotional whatever the result.

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