FALKIRK 1 INVERNESS 2
Manager John Hughes was thrilled with Inverness’ historic Scottish Cup final victory, even if he made it clear they underperformed in the second half at Hampden Park.
The Caley Jags took the lead before the break through Marley Watkins, but everything looked like imploding for them when defender Carl Tremarco was sent off for a desperate lunge on Falkirk’s Blair Alston and Peter Grant equalised with 10 minutes remaining.
Just when the tide seemed to be turning in Falkirk’s favour, however, substitute James Vincent scored from close range to give Inverness a 2-1 win to secure the club’s first major trophy.
“We’ve made history once again, winning the Scottish Cup....absolutely fantastic,” Hughes said.
The cup triumph bookends a remarkably successful period for the Caley Jags, who finished third in the Scottish Premiership after also lifting the Scottish League Cup last season.
Hughes had cause to be beaming over his side’s achievements, but he was also quick to praise Falkirk – a side he both played for and managed earlier on in his career.
“I’d like to pay respects to Falkirk, they were the better team in the second half and somehow we’re down to 10 men but we’ve pulled through again,” he added.
When Hughes began to dwell on his side’s second-half display, he sounded like Sir Alex Ferguson in his famously angry pitch-side interview after Aberdeen won the same trophy in 1983 – despite his best efforts – before cracking a smile once again.
“I don’t want to sound like Alex Ferguson after that Aberdeen victory but I thought we were absolutely awful in the second half and it’s not really acceptable,” he said. “But once again, we’ll enjoy the victory and we’ve made history.”
Hughes, who celebrated the victory on the pitch with his 11-year-old twin daughters, admitted that his side may find it hard to top their achievements, but he expects them to sustain the benchmarks they have set.
“I don’t think you can (top this), but what we have done is set standards at the club that we have to maintain,” he added. “They’re a wonderful bunch of boys and they’ve got real team spirit amongst them and I think that showed even when we were up against it second half, we still dug it out.”
Inverness skipper Watkins, who scored the first and set up the second, 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 (Vincent) – I was just over the moon,” he said.
“I was watching the clock all the time and waiting for it to go. It’s an amazing occasion.”
When asked if it would be the perfect way to sign off at Inverness if he does leave this summer, Watkins, who has been linked to Hearts, replied: “Yeah, it’d be the best way.”