Aberdeen left it late at Pittodrie tonight as they came from behind to beat Falkirk and book a semi-final spot in the Co-op Insurance Cup. Hartley was the hero after the break with the Dons trailing 1-0 after a dismal first half performance. They improved after the break and a looping header from Hartley levelled the tie. With both sides looking for the win the game appeared to be heading for extra time. Then in the final minute of injury time Maguire was brought down in the Falkirk box and after a long delay Paul Hartley stepped up to make it 2-1 and claim his eighth goal of the season.
Aberdeen kicked off in the pouring rain and in the opening minute Maguire fed Mackie, but the striker was crowded out as he shot from the edge of the box. Two minutes later it took three Falkirk players to thwart Aluko before Howard was called into action as he cut out a cross from the right. Maguire tried a low snap shot in the 7th minute, but Olejnik saved well despite the greasy surface. Twaddle picked up a knock two minutes later and required lengthy treatment before continuing.
Falkirk won the first corner in the 11th minute when Diamond was forced to clear. The set play came to nothing despite conceding a free header that went high over the bar. At this stage Aberdeen were not producing the flair play of Saturday as passes constantly failed to find their intended target. A great run from Mackie in the 21st minute found Aluko at the far post and the Nigerian won the Dons first corner. A game of pinball in front of Olejnik followed before Falkirk cleared.
At the other end Howard dallied with a clearance and was lucky not to be closed down. In the 24th minute Maguire had another shot from the edge of the box that wasn't too far off target. At the other end Diamond made another great challenge to deny the Bairns. Falkirk won a disputed corner in the 34th minute after McArdle appeared to be fouled. The ball was swung over and once again Aberdeen failed to defend a high ball and Khalis bulleted a header past Howard at the far post.
McArdle collected a yellow card in the 38th minute for a very poor challenge as Aberdeen struggled to get going. In the 40th minute Maguire made a great run on the left, but let himself down with a poor cross that hit the side netting. The crowd were getting frustrated now as the Dons failed make an impact on the match. A late free kick won the Dons a corner, but Aberdeen failed to create a scoring chance and left the pitch to a chorus of boos.
Aberdeen won a free kick on the edge of the box in the 48th minute, but Aluko's effort was blocked by the wall. A minute later the same player tested Olejnik with a low shot. Mackie and Aluko then combined well to set up Maguire, but the striker didn't make a clean contact. It was certainly a better start from the home side and in the 51st minute Mackie made another great probing run. Falkirk then won a corner in the 53rd minute, but the Dons cleared through McArdle and Maguire was scythed down by Miller and the Falkirk man earned a booking.
The Dons won their own corner in the 55th minute and a second quickly followed as the Dons set about their opponents. After a positive start Falkirk were starting to stifle the Dons again, but in the 62nd minute a free kick was awarded on the edge of the box for hand ball. It was very close to being inside the area, but the wall once again did its job as Hartley failed to find the target. The Dons only had to wait another two minutes before they were level.
Mackie played a ball into the Falkirk area and Captain Paul Hartley sent a looping header beyond the keeper. Moments later Maguire was released by Hartley, but went down under a challenge and didn't win the award. In the 70th minute Twaddle took advantage of some poor defending and Hartley had to hoof the ball clear for a corner. Aberdeen broke quickly, but a poor pass from Maguire was cut out as Aluko looked to break. Two minutes later Howard was forced into a great save from Flynn as the first division team began to take control again. Another Bairns corner followed in the 73rd minute and Howard had to fight through the crowd to claim it.
At the other end Mackie had a crack at goal, but Olejnik showed a safe pair of hands. Falkirk then won a very soft free kick wide on the left, but Howard did well to punch clear. Flynn went into the book for a foul on Mackie and a Dons corner quickly followed. Olejnik made a brave save as the game sat on a knife edge. Aluko had a great chance in the 82nd minute, but his first touch, for once, let him down. McArdle was caught in possession on the edge of his own box, but the Dons escaped by only losing a corner.
With five minutes remaining Maguire cut inside, but his shot straight at the keeper. Two minutes later Mackie conceded a free kick then the Bairns won a corner. The ball was only half cleared as Aberdeen struggled to clear their lines. The pressure was finally eased when Howard made a save from a long range effort from Miller. In the dying seconds of normal time Olejnik dropped the ball, but Aberdeen failed to take advantage. Then with seconds remaining Maguire was bowled over in the box and referee O'Reilly pointed to the spot. Hartley despatched the kick into the net to win the match.