Ten-man Inverness won the Scottish Cup for the first time in the club’s 21-year history with a dramatic 86th-minute breakaway goal by substitute James Vincent.
Victory was another step forward for John Hughes’ side who had already qualified for Europe for the first time thanks to their third-place finish in the Premiership, their best since they were formed in 1994.
The goal was heartbreaking for Falkirk who had picked themelves up after falling being to Marley Watkins’ 38th-minute goal as Inverness dominated a first half in which the Falkirk captain might have a hat-trick. They finally went ahead when Aaron Doran threaded a pass from the edge of the box through to Watkins, who escaped the attention of Peter Grant and rounded Falkirk’s goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald before slipping the ball home.
However, the Bairns came storming back after the break and as the pressure built Caley Thistle’s Carl Tremarco, who was making a rare start, found himself as the last line of defence and was shown a straight red card by referee Willie Collum for fouling Blair Alston with 15 minutes to play. It was a disaster of Tremarco’s own making. He failed to control the ball under no real pressure in his own half, was robbed by Alston and then hauled him down.
Falkirk made the most of their man advantage to step up the pressure. They had a penalty claim when the ball appeared to strike the hand of Ross Draper inside the box. Collum was unmoved but the momentum was with the Bairns.
They got their reward when Grant, up from the back, levelled the scores with a header from an Alston free-kick. It began to look as if the Championship side could pull off an upset, but they were caught on the break. Vincent, who had come on for Ryan Christie in the 72nd minute, secured the Highland club’s first major trophy when he scored from close range after MacDonald had parried a shot by Watkins after a swift break. “We’ve made history once again, winning the Scottish Cup – absolutely fantastic,” John Hughes, their manager, said.
Delighted as he was, Hughes was quick to praise Falkirk, who he had played for and managed earlier on in his career.
“They were the better team in the second half and somehow we’re down to 10 men but we’ve pulled through again,” he said. “I thought we were absolutely awful in the second half and it’s not really acceptable. But once again, we’ll enjoy the victory and we’ve made history.”
Watkins, who has been linked with a move to Hearts, led from the front as captain, scoring the first and setting up the winner, but he felt the chance of silverware was slipping away from his side after they were pegged back to 1-1 and with 10 men. “I thought, honestly, oh my god. We never do it the easy way so once that goal went in – although I think I should have passed it before I shot to Vinny – I was just over the moon,” he said.
Inverness Caledonian Thistle: (4-2-3-1) Esson; Shinnie, Devine, Meekings, Tremarco; Tansey, Draper; Watkins (Ross, 90), Doran (Williams, 78), Christie (Vincent, 72).
Falkirk: (4-4-1-1) MacDonald; Duffie, McCracken, Grant, Leahy; Alston, Vaulks, Taiwo, Sibbald; Smith (Bia Bi, 63); Loy (Morgan, 90).
Referee: William Collum
Man of the match: Watkins (Inverness)
Match rating: 6/10Reuse content