Inverness won the William Cup Scottish Cup for the first time in the club’s 21-year-history with a dramatic 86th-minute goal by substitute James Vincent, The Scotsman reports. Caley Thistle striker Marley Watkins scored a deserved opener in the 38th minute as the Premiership side dominated. However, the Bairns came storming back after the break and Caley Thistle defender Carl Tremarco was handed a straight red card by referee Willie Collum for a ‘last man’ tackle on Blair Alston.
When Falkirk defender Peter Grant levelled the scores with a header from an Alston free-kick it looked like as if it could be Falkirk’s day but Vincent, on for Ryan Christie in the 72nd minute, secured the Highland club’s first major trophy when he notched from close range after keeper Jamie MacDonald had parried a Watkins shot. It was another record for John Hughes’ side who had already qualified for Europe next season for the first time due to their third-place finish – the highest since they were formed in 1994.
Captain Graeme Shinnie moved across from left-back and Tremarco came into the defence for a rare start, with Danny Devine taking over from the suspended centre-back Gary Warren. Hughes’s team dominated the first-half in which Watkins might have a hat-trick. In the ninth minute Shinnie’s cross from the right was helped on by Aaron Doran but the former Bath City and Hereford player could not get the final touch from six yards out.
Then, from Doran’s cross from the left, Grant made a decisive clearance under pressure from Watkins. Falkirk’s response was two efforts on goal from distance by midfielder Will Vaulks, the first testing Inverness keeper Ryan Esson, the second in the 27th minute hitting the side-netting, fooling many Bairns fans in the north stand into thinking it was in. However, all Falkirk supporters breathed a sigh of relief moments later when Grant made a saving tackle on Watkins as he set himself to pull the trigger from eight yards, and when Doran failed to connect with a volley from a similar distance.
Nevertheless, a Caley Thistle goal looked inevitable and it came when Doran threaded a pass from the edge of the box through to Watkins who escaped the attention of Grant and rounded MacDonald before slipping the ball into the empty net. His celebrations ended with him holding up a t-shirt which said ‘RIP Roy Lewis’ in tribute to the former Swansea rugby player and father of his friend, Worcester Warriors flanker Sam Lewis, who passed away recently.
With seconds remaining only another great saving tackle by Grant at the edge of his own penalty area prevented Doran getting clean through on goal. It was difficult to see how Houston’s side could get back into the game but they started the second-half with much-needed pace and purpose. Vaulks had yet another effort from 25 yards early in the second-half which just went wide before midfielder Blair Alston skied a shot over the bar from 12 yards, before Vaulks again, chipped over the bar.
The game took a turn, however, when Tremarco, after failing to control the ball under no real pressure in his own half, was robbed by Alston before hauling him down with Collum quickly flashing red. There was a penalty claim when the ball appeared to strike the hand of Ross Draper inside the box but Collum was unmoved but the momentum was with Houston’s side. With 10 minutes remaining Grant rose at the back post to bullet in an Alston free-kick and it looked like extra-time would be the least Falkirk would get for their efforts.
However, with four minutes remaining Watkins drove towards goal on the break and when his low drive was pushed out by MacDonald to Vincent he knocked the ball into the net for an historic winner.