Hibs Scottish Cup dream was shattered yet again as Falkirk, who had played with their backs to the wall for much of the game, stole this semi-final tie with Craig Sibbald’s 75th minute goal.
The Easter Road side had twice struck the woodwork through Fraser Fyvie and Scott Allan and a goal for Alan Stubbs’ players looked increasingly likely.
But the 17,000 or so Hibs fans who had made the journey to Hampden were silenced as Sibbald sneaked in front of Dylan McGeouch to nod Blair Alston’s cross beyond Mark Oxley to give the Bairns their third 1-0 win of the season over the Capital club,
Hibs made just one change from the side which beat Hearts in the final Edinburgh derby of the season, Scott Robertson, having recovered from a hamstring injury, taking the place of the Cup-tied Martin Boyle.
But Falkirk were without Rory Loy, their top scorer failing to overcome, despite intensive treatment, his ankle injury.
A minute’s applause was held before kick-off, both sets of fans paying tribute to former Hibs player Tommy Preston who died on Thursday at the age of 82.
Hibs came out the blocks from the first whistle, creating two great chances in the opening five minutes, Jason Cummings’ powerful run producing a cross which was taken off the head of Farid El Alagui by the boot of Kieran Duffie.
Dylan McGeouch then sought out El Alagui with a tempting cross, David McCracken getting to it just before him only to see the ball crash back off the chest of his goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald and back to the Hibs striker who, although he was lying flat out on the deck, managed to get his head to it but his effort carried insufficient power to beat the former Hearts No 1.
Having survived those incidents the Bairns went close themselves, Will Vaulks rising shot taking a slight deflection as it whistled inches wide of Mark Oxley’s left hand post.
Thereafter, a previous results between the clubs this season would have suggested, the game became a much tighter affair with much of the play confined to the middle of the park although Lewis Stevenson was offering Hibs width on the left without being able to produce the telling cross.
Hibs had been a touch static at times when confronted by that wall of white shirts but Allan almost unlocked it, sliding a terrific pass inside Duffie for Stevenson who picked out the run of El Alagui, his first time shot hit the side-netting.
The Capital club went even closer two minutes from the interval, Fyvie unleashing a low right foot shot which beat MacDonald but came crashing back off the right hand post and into the grateful goalkeeper’s arms.
Little had been seen of Falkirk in an attacking sense in those opening 45 minutes but Blair Alston brought Oxley into action two minutes after the restart, his long-range shot taking a wicked bounce and forcing the goalkeeper to push the ball round the post.
Allan’s through ball found El Alagui running free only to find the offside flag raised, television pictures, however, suggested assistant referee assistant referee Stuart Stevenson had got the marginal decision wrong.
Hibs, though, were beginning to turn the screw, Stevenson’s cross finding McGeouch at the back post only for the midfielder to miscue in front of goal, He retrieved the situation by returning the ball across goal where Stevenson blasted well over from a good position.
Allan drove at the Falkirk defence finding the space to fire in a rising shot from 16 yards which beat MacDonald but crashed back off the crossbar.
Stevenson then found space on the left to shoot, his effort coming off the boot of Duffie and looping in the air but, with MacDonald grasping thin air, the ball inched past the wrong side of the post as far as Hibs were concerned.
But having weathered the storm Falkirk stunned Hibs by taking the lead in the 75th minute, Sibbald stealing in front of McGeouch to head home Alston’s cross.
Hibs: Oxley, Forster, Hanlon, Fontaine, McGeouch, Fyvie, Robertson (Dja Djedje 80), S Allan, Stevenson, Cummings (Malonga 87), El Alagui.
Substitutes not used: Cerny, Craig, Stanton, Handling, Dunsmore.
Falkirk: MacDonald, Duffie, McCracken, Grant, Leahy, Taiwo, Sibbald, Vaulks, Alston, Smith (Bia-bi 46), Morgan (Muirhead 77).,
Substitutes not used: Bowman, Muirhead, Dick, Cooper, Blair, O’Hara.
Referee: John Beaton.