RELIEVED Falkirk boss Peter Houston admitted he was delighted his team didn’t have to face Celtic in the Scottish Cup Final.
And he added he believed Ronny Deila’s men were denied a stonewall penalty-kick at a crucial stage in their 3-2 extra-time defeat.
Houston said: “I said yesterday, after our victory over Hibs, we would have a better chance of winning the Cup if we played Inverness.
“I mean that as absolutely no disrespect to John Hughes, who has done a brilliant job with the team, or his players.
“But I did say I would rather have them at Hampden next month.
“Celtic going for a treble would certainly have been a bit more difficult.
“But I’m delighted for John Hughes. He has always got a smile on his face, he is so infectious and he is a hard worker. You can see the team play for him.
“All these things put together will make sure the Cup Final is going to be a very difficult game for us.
“It could be a right open game and a good day for football.”
However, Houston added referee Steve McLean and his assistants had a huge part to play in the outcome that wrecked Celtic’s hopes of a treble in Deila’s first season.
He said: “Decisions swung it – and I’m talking about big decisions.
“I think if Celtic get a penalty-kick just before the interval and go 2-0 up then I believe it would have been too high an obstacle for Inverness to climb.
“And I reckon Celtic might have gone on to win it.
“The penalty-kick was a stonewaller. I was going to give the benefit to the assistant behind the goal, Alan Muir, but when you watch reruns you can see his view is very good.
“The officials talk to each other and he has to say to the ref that is is a handball.
“It must also be said the referee’s position is perfect, too. That’s a penalty-kick all day long.
“There were six officials on duty and not one of them called it right.”
Josh Meekings would have been red-carded for pushing away Leigh Griffiths’ header, but McLean waved play on and ignored the protests of the Hoops.
However, there was no such hesitation when Craig Gordon was ordered off when he brought down Marley Watkins before Greg Tansey fired in the resultant award.