Published: 16/03/2016 21:43 - Updated: 16/03/2016 21:46

Caley Thistle surrender Scottish Cup title after 2-1 defeat to Hibernian

Written byJamie Durent

Iain Vigurs
Iain Vigurs pulled a goal back for Inverness.

HOLDERS Caley Thistle relinquished their grip on the Scottish Cup after their quarter-final replay defeat to Hibernian.

Anthony Stokes scored two first-half goals to put Hibernian clear and despite Iain Vigurs' goal with 13 minutes to go, Inverness could not mount a fightback.

It will be Alan Stubbs' side who will now face Dundee United at Hampden Park on April 16.

For Alan Stubbs' visitors, this game came just four days after they lost 2-1 to Ross County at Hampden in the Scottish League Cup final, so this was both teams' final bid for silverware this season.

The teams met in the original tie at Easter Road 10 days ago when Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo goal earned ICT a second crack at the men from Leith in a 1-1 draw, after James Keatings gave Hibs the lead.

John Hughes Highlanders' had gone six games without a win, with Saturday's 1-0 league loss at home to Hamilton still fresh in their minds. Hibs were five games without a win going into this tie.

ICT welcomed back defenders Gary Warren and Carl Tremarco from suspension, but midfielder Greg Tansey was banned after being booked in Easter Road clash.The big call for John Hughes came with the recall of Richie Foran and Josh Meekings to the starting line-up, at the expense of Danny Williams and Liam Polworth. Jordan Roberts and Greg Tansey were also out, with Gary Warren and Carl Tremarco returning from suspension.

Hibernian made one change from the team that lost the League Cup Final against Ross County, with Kevin Thomson dropped in favour of James Keatings. Despite Stokes and Jason Cummings struggling to gel, Alan Stubbs persisted with the pair.

Foran's start was the most surprising, given that it was his first one since March 26 2014. He started up front and should have had a free kick early on when he appeared to be dragged down by Darren McGregor.

Lewis Horner and Stokes exchanged chances for either side, with both keen to put disappointing weekend results behind them. However it was Stokes that would get the second chance, making the most of Carl Tremarco and Danny Devine missing Keatings' cross to finish well on 36 minutes.

Not content with shooting themselves in the foot once, Caley Thistle did it again five minutes later. Devine gave the ball away to Liam Henderson, he squared for Cummings and when his shot was well saved, Stokes was on hand to slam in the rebound.

Inverness were going down meekly at this stage and should have given themselves a route back into the game at the start of the second half through Tremarco.

John Hughes threw on Miles Storey and Williams, but bizarrely out of position on the left and right flanks respectively. It provided little attacking threat as first Stokes and John McGinn were thwarted by Owain Fon Williams at the opposite end.

Meekings and Hughes both lashed volleys wide as Caley Thistle looked desperate but when Vigurs hammered in his 77th minute chance, they had some hope.

Mark Oxley's knock and eventual substitution, after numerous accusations of timewasting, gave Inverness seven additional minutes to save their crown but time ran out on the cup holders.

CALEY THISTLE: Fon Williams; Meekings, Devine, Warren, Tremarco (Polworth, 73), Draper, Wedderburn (D. Williams, 62), Horner (Storey, 62), Vigurs, Hughes, Foran. Subs unused: Esson, R. Williams, Roberts. Booked: Wedderburn.

HIBERNIAN: Oxley (Virtanen, 88); Gray, Fontaine, McGregor, Stevenson, Bartley, Henderson, McGinn, Keatings (Gunnarsson, 80), Stokes, Cummings. Subs unused: El Alagui, Handling, Boyle, Dagnall, Thomson. Booked: Keatings, Gray.

Attendance: 3207.

Referee: S. Finnie.

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