Falkirk 1-0 Hamilton Accies

By Clive LindsayBBC Scotland
Dods celebrates his winning goal at Livingston's Almondvale Stadium
Dods celebrates his winning goal at Livingston's Almondvale Stadium

Darren Dods' goal after 82 seconds was enough to give Falkirk a historic and deserved win over Hamilton Academical in the final of the Ramsdens Cup.

The Bairns become the first club to win the Challenge Cup for a fourth time.

Veteran captain and defender Dods rose majestically to head home Mark Millar's inswinging corner at Almondvale.

Millar fired against the crossbar after the break before Michael McGovern denied Accies a stoppage-time equaliser with a fine save from Andy Ryan.

Dods heads the only goal of the game at Livingston's Almondvale Stadium
Dods heads the only goal of the game at Livingston's Almondvale Stadium

That denied Accies the chance to take the final into extra time and keep alive their hopes of lifting the trophy for the first time since they won it for a second time in 1993.

Instead, it was Falkirk who emerged as winners seven years since they last won a Challenge Cup final and ended a run of five games without a win and three straight defeats for Steven Pressley's young side.

And it will come as some compensation for a slump in league form that has allowed Ross County to all but clinch the First Division title and the promotion that goes with it.

Accies had moved moved to within two points of the Bairns in the table after three straight victories and went into the game confident of recording their first win over Pressley's side this season after two defeats and a draw.

However, from the moment Dods planted his early header beyond goalkeeper David Hutton from 10 yards, it was Falkirk who were in the ascendency in Livingston.

It took Accies 18 more minutes to place their first effort on target and, even then, Jordan Kirkpatrick's speculative strike from 30 yards was met be a comfortable save from goalkeeper McGovern.

Farid El Allagui forced a fine block from Hutton from point-blank range as the Moroccan striker proved to be a constant threat to the Accies defence.

Accies showed greater determination after the break, during which manager Billy Reid made two substitutions and changed his side's shape - and attitude.

What remained missing was a killer touch, with Lee Kilday heading weakly straight at McGovern and replacement Ryan also firing into the goalkeeper's arms.

Millar shaved the top of the crossbar from 25 yards with the best of three quickfire drives from distance from the Bairns midfielder.

Accies launched a late assualt during which Daniel Redmond volleyed over from 20 yards, while Ryan's superbly-hit free-kick was turned wide by McGovern to ensure the trophy headed for Falkirk Stadium.

Falkirk manager Steven Pressley: "I thought it was a tense encounter to say the least. For many of the players, it was the first experience of a cup final and it showed.

"But some of our quality shone through. We have come through a lot and a mention for Hamilton, who made it a great cup final.

"Nobody is more deserving of a cup final winning goal than Darren Dods. I think it was his 500th, so much deserved."

Falkirk captain Darren Dods: "It feels great and to get that goal early on settles us down.

"Hamilton put us under pressure in the second half, but we held out.

"A word for Fulton and Sibbald in midfield, they did marvelously for boys so young."

Falkirk: McGovern, Duffie, Dods, Wallace, Scobbie, Sibbald (Alston 86), Gibson, Jay Fulton, Mark Millar, Weatherston, El Alagui. Subs Not Used: Bowman, Rhys Bennett, Kingsley, White.

Booked: Jay Fulton.

Goals: Dods 2.

Hamilton: Hutton, McAlister, Mensing, McLaughlin (Andy Ryan 71), Kilday, Routledge, Kirkpatrick (Hendrie 46), Redmond, Stewart (Spence 46), McShane, Neil. Subs Not Used: Blair Currie, Gillespie.

Booked: Neil.

Att: 5,210

Ref: Brian Winter

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