Celtic...................... 0 Falkirk.....................1

NOBODY else believed in Alex Totten's dream but they do now. The man who, as a boy, watched Falkirk beat Kilmarnock in the 1957 Scottish Cup final, has steered his team into the 1997 final against the same club, just as he kept forecasting to anyone who would listen.

As he and his first division stalwarts celebrated a victory almost as startling as any in the tournament's history, Celtic and their legion of supporters traipsed home in desperate depression. The fans' wrath was manifested in boos and jeers at the end, a noise which must have been painful to the ears of manager Tommy Burns watching from the stand.

Considering all the speculation about his future, this result was the last thing he needed. But, if Celtic can point to domination of the semi-final replay, the determination, solidity, and grit of the Brockville side earned their reward.

It was not an evening for weak hearts as Falkirk, having snatched the lead through Paul McGrillen after 19 minutes, had to withstand a barrage from their premier opponents. Even so, Celtic were not imaginative enough in midfield to create the openings that would have recompensed their immense effort. There were inevitable near things, notably a deflection by Scott McKenzie which came off his own post and a last-minute Cadete header that Craig Nelson touched over. The late stages were nerve racking for both sets of supporters.

In the end it was dejection for Celtic as, with the Ibrox clock reading 94 minutes, the whistle blew to signal the start of the Brockville party.

As the Falkirk players ran to salute their fans, the jeers could be heard at the other end and a few Celtic scarves were thrown on to the field.

For Alex Totten, the dream had come true. For Celtic, the nightmare goes on.

Now Falkirk and Kilmarnock will relive 1957 on May 24. Who would have thought it?

Celtic on the other hand are ending their season in disarray, with speculation surrounding the future of their manager and star striker Jorge Cadete, who was marked absent for most of the 90 minutes. Although many of his colleagues could not be faulted for effort, there was far too much reliance on the skills of Paolo Di Canio, to get Celtic out of trouble.

The Italian did his best and at times that was scintillating but against a team so well organised and composed that their position in the first division seems incomprehensible even his brilliance was never going to be enough on its own.

Falkirk's gallant band were weary but joyous lads at the end after an exhausting time beating back the green tide that besieged them from the moment - and even before - that Paul McGrillen put them in the lead with a rare attack in 19 minutes. The ex-Motherwell man, who literally has to look up to the Celtic central defence, still managed to nod the ball high into the net after David Hagen lofted the ball over to him after a Jamie McGowan cross had caught the Parkhead defence flat footed.

There was plenty of time for Celtic to retrieve the situation but, while they were in almost total command for the next 71 minutes, they had neither the subtlety nor the penetration to overcome a collection of defenders who were hell bent on keeping them out.

The cheeky, defiant mood of the Bairns was gauged before the off, too, when, as Celtic went into their customary huddle, the Falkirk lads linked hands and went to the far goal to salute their supporters.

It had scarcely looked likely as Celtic had busied themselves around the Falkirk goal. A superb run by Di Canio had the crowd on their feet but his shot went past the far post. Their best try came from Donnelly who ended a sweet Celtic move initiated by Di Canio who did brilliant work on the left before sending over a cross which the striker tamed and hit hard but saw it blocked by keeper Craig Nelson.

The goal by McGrillen inevitably produced anger at the Celtic end and ecstasy at the Falkirk choir end. The Parkhead players did raise the pace but they were now up against an even more determined and well-organised defence, urged on from the dug-out by a manager, Alex Totten, who was more animated than any of them. Boyd had a decent try with a well-struck shot that went only just over the bar and then Falkirk had an astonishing escape when Di Canio's chip into the box spreadeagled the defence, and Cadete got a touch towards goal as he lay on the ground. However, McGowan squeezed the ball away just short of the line.

The tension was almost tangible by now but the referee, Willie Young, kept his cool well enough to judge that Di Canio, and a little later Crabbe had taken dives, for which he booked both.

After the break, Stubbs was booked for a scything tackle on Crabbe, illustrating the frustration in some departments, but the Parkhead hopes were almost doused completely when McGrillen hit a tremendous shot after a poor Celtic clearance landed in front of him. The Falkirk man couldn't believe it when the ball crashed off the bar.

Thom nearly brought Celtic back into the game with a shot that Nelson stopped brilliantly and was able to collect the rebound cut-back from Cadete.

Falkirk had to replace injured scorer McGrillen - he was carried off with concussion after receiving treatment behind the bye-line - with Albert Craig in 64 minutes.

CELTIC - Kerr, Boyd, McKinlay, McNamara, Stubbs, O'Donnell, Di Canio, Hannah, Donnelly, Thom, Cadete. Substitutes - Johnson, Mackay, McLaughlin.

FALKIRK - Nelson, McGowan, Seaton, Oliver, James, Gray, McAllister, McKenzie, Crabbe, Hagen, McGrillen. Substitutes - Craig, Fellner, Mathers.

Referee - W Young (Clarkston).