Hibernian 1-2 Ross County: First League Cup victory for the Highland club
By Charlie McFaulds
Last Updated: 14/03/16 8:24am
Alex Schalk scored in the last minute of regulation time to give Ross County a 2-1 victory over Hibernian in the Scottish League Cup final.
Almost 22 years after joining the Scottish Football League from the Highland League, County have claimed their first major honour.
Michael Gardyne had given the Highlanders the lead against the run of play before Liam Fontaine levelled shortly before half-time in an exciting game at Hampden.
Jason Cummings almost put Hibs in front after 12 minutes when his dipping shot from 30 yards was pushed over the bar by Gary Woods following patient build up play from the striker, Tony Stokes and John McGinn.
Two minutes later Fontaine tried to squeeze the ball under Woods from close range, and the County 'keeper later held a Stokes shot from inside the box as Hibernian continued to press.
Instead it was the Scottish Premiership side who took the lead after 25 minutes when Jackson Irvine intercepted a pass to Stokes and slipped a first-time ball in front of Gardyne who held off Marvin Bartley and stepped past the advancing Mark Oxley to tap home.
County survived another scare when Stokes flicked on a corner and David Gray had the sting taken out of his shot by the foot of Irvine with the goal at his mercy allowing Marcus Fraser to clear the danger.
Woods made another good save as Cummings tried to hook the ball past him at the near post after Liam Henderson opened up the County defence with an early pass.
But the Championship side were rewarded for their efforts in the dying seconds of the half when the ball dropped to Fontaine in the box from a Henderson corner and the Hibs defender turned to crash his shot high into the net despite the best attempts of Fraser to block on the line.
Hibs created the first chance after the interval when Bartley drove forward and slipped a pass wide to Henderson before the midfielder delivered to the front post where the ball spun off Cummings and wide of the target.
Stokes then sent a low drive inches past the near post after controlling a Henderson pass and spinning to shoot.
Hibs could have been reduced to 10 men when Bartley elbowed County substitute Brian Graham, but he escaped with a booking instead.
At the other end of the pitch Oxley pushed away a 30-yard free-kick from Alex Schalk and although Graham headed the ball into the net seconds later, the big forward was penalised for a foul on the goalkeeper.
The match looked certain for a period of extra-time when Gardyne burst down the left flank and delivered into the six-yard box where Fontaine's attempted clearance dropped in front of Schalk, and he turned the ball over the line from three yards.And there was further drama in the final seconds of stoppage-time when Woods produced another superb save to tip an overhead-kick from Fontaine over the bar, but seconds later County were celebrating at the final whistle.