Substitute Kai Kennedy’s late strike earned Falkirk a dramatic 2-1 comeback win
over Ayr United to set up a Scottish Cup semi-final against Inverness.
Somerset Park striker Dipo Akinyemi drove in his 21st goal of the season for Lee Bullen’s Championship side after 12 minutes before the home side got going, eventually and deservedly levelling in the 66th minute through a Callumn Morrison penalty.
Ayr’s Chris Maguire hit a post with a penalty in the 81st minute before Kennedy fired home a deflected drive minutes later to put John McGlynn’s League One side into the last four for the first time since 2015.
They reached the final that year before losing to Inverness, who they were drawn against in the semi-finals moments after the final whistle, with Celtic facing Rangers in the other tie.
There were still queues trying to enter the ground when the game began, with Akinyemi making an early impression and, after Falkirk themselves had started to threaten, firing the visitors into an early lead.
There was still plenty to do when the powerful forward made space for himself on the edge of the box after gathering a Sam Ashford header, but he turned defender Coll Donaldson and drilled a shot low past goalkeeper Brian Kinnear.
Flares came on to the pitch from the stand which housed the Ayr fans, delaying the restart, but when the game did get back under way Akinyemi soon tested Kinnear with another drive, this time saved at the expense of a corner, which came to nothing.
The former Welling player then missed Ashford’s inviting cross from the left just a yard from goal as the Bairns wobbled under pressure.
Falkirk came back into the game and in the 35th minute Donaldson headed over from a Max Kucheriavyi corner at the second attempt, then elicited more groans when he mis-kicked in front of goal after the ball fell for him at the next corner.
The home side continued their more assertive play into the second half and Ayr had to work hard to repel a series of attacks.
McGlynn brought on Gary Oliver and Kennedy for Aidan Nesbitt and Matthew Wright around the hour mark and the Bairns were soon level.
The Falkirk fans roared for the penalty referee Nick Walsh awarded it for handball against Frankie Musonda following a corner and Morrison drove his spot-kick low past Aidan McAdams and into the corner of the net.
Ayr, startled by their situation, fought back immediately and Kinnear made saves from Akinyemi, Ashford and then Akinyemi again as a cracking cup tie continued apace.
Walsh again pointed to the spot when Donaldson felled Musonda inside the box, but Maguire hit a post and then touched the ball again to be penalised.
Two minutes later Falkirk snatched victory as Kennedy’s long-distance drive took a deflection off the luckless Musonda and beat McAdams, who also had to make an injury-time save from Morrison to prevent a third.