HEARTS, despite their morale-raising 1-0 League Cup victory over Celtic, are thinking of switching their tag as Scottish football's third force to the more appropriate 'third farce' following one of the stormiest days in the club's 122-year history. The Edinburgh outfit have launched a furious protest to the Scottish Football Association, the game's ruling body, over the amazing clash with Rangers which saw FOUR of their players sent off, claiming that three of the red cards were a joke. The Ibrox match - which Rangers won 3-0 - was reduced to the level of farce in an astonishing 20-minute spell when Pasquale Bruno, David Weir, Neil Pointon and Paul Ritchie were all given their marching orders by referee Gerry Evans. One more Hearts' dismissal should have caused the game to be abandoned, although the Tynecastle club have revealed they would have conceded the points if that had happened. Now that the dust has settled though, chairman Chris Robinson is backing his sinning stars - dubbed the 'Ibrox Four' - and has appealed against the red cards. One of the chief accusations from the Hearts' camp is that Rangers' striker Gordon Durie, whose clash with Weir sparked most of the mayhem, is a cheat. Hearts claim the Scotland international faked injury and was not head-butted in an incident between the pair. And they are furious that that Durie - who was fined by the English FA as a Spurs' player after being found guilty of a similar piece of play-acting - escaped punishment. The SFA are almost certain to back referee Evans rather than take the club's side, though there is no doubt that much of a storm in a teacup could have been contained if fussy linesman Graeme Allison had not made a noose for Evans' neck by sparking two of the sendings off, Pointon's and Ritchie's, for verbal abuse. Hearts, who face Motherwell tomorrow, can still count on around 15,000 fans for home games - the best outside the Old Firm - but the club is now GBP5 million in debt and the revelation that Bruno is still staying at one of Edinburgh's top hotels at the club's expense a year after joining has fuelled discontent. Hearts' striker John Robertson scored the only goal 20 minutes into extra time to send Celtic out of the League Cup at Tynecastle. The Edinburgh side's Stefano Salvatori was sent off in the 61st minute for a second booking but Celtic were unable to make progress and they lost Peter Grant for two cautions three minutes into the extra period. Tomorrow, Celtic face Dunfermline at Parkhead, though they will be without Tosh McKinlay, who is out for two weeks with a minor knee problem. Club captain Paul McStay, who has been missing since the start of the season with a recurring ankle injury, has scotched rumours that his career is over. 'Last time I made my comeback too soon and I want to make sure the problem is completely healed again.' The most intriguing fixture this weekend is at Kirkcaldy, where Raith take on Dundee United now under the guidance of new manager Tommy McLean, who spent seven days at Starks Park as boss before walking out last week to take the United job. Raith have recruited ex-Hamilton boss Iain Munro as McLean's successor. Another managerial casualty this week was former Spurs, Barcelona and Scotland star Steve Archibald, sacked by struggling East Fife.