Hibee History: League Cup is won in memorable style

Hibs skipper Rob Jones lifts the Cup with Steven Fletcher, left, and Abdessalam Benjelloun

Hibs skipper Rob Jones lifts the Cup with Steven Fletcher, left, and Abdessalam Benjelloun

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Hibs lifted their first trophy in 16 years on a memorable afternoon at Hampden Park as they tasted CIS Insurance Cup success with victory over Kilmarnock under the stewardship of manager John Collins.

The Hibees produced a dazzling display of power, speed and clinical finishing to leave their opponents bewildered at the national stadium.

The Easter Road side’s classy performance justified boss Collins’ decision to recall Irish winger Ivan Sproule and pick teenager Lewis Stevenson, who put in a man-of-the-match performance, over experienced Michael Stewart in midfield.

Killie boss Jim Jefferies had restored goalkeeper Alan Combe and defender Simon Ford to his starting XI as the former Hearts player and boss looked to get one over Hibs, although he was without key players David Fernandez, Momo Sylla and Danny Invincibile.

It was Combe’s opposite number, Andrew McNeil, who was first to be tested as Killie started the brighter while sleet and snow enveloped Hampden.

The young goalkeeper turned diminutive striker Steven Naismith’s close-range head flick over the crossbar in the early stages as Killie sought the opener.

Then it was Combe’s turn to impress as he parried wide Stevenson’s drilled effort from 12 yards out.

Naismith somehow outjumped McNeil after Garry Hay’s hopeful long ball, but his header drifted wide for a goal kick.

The youngster again did well to latch on to a long ball but just failed to steer his shot from 18 yards into the top corner.

However, Hibs took the lead and captain Rob Jones lead by example as he freed himself from his marker to nod past Combe from David Murphy’s corner amid blizzard conditions.

Combe then dived full length to turn wide a Abdessalam Benjelloun header before McNeil did well to recover when Frazer Wright fired a low drive through a crowd of players.

But Hibs ended the half the better side, with striker Steven Fletcher flashing a drive wide and then having another effort cleared by a deflection off team-mate Sproule.

It was in the second period that the Capital club would run riot, although the second-half started in bizarre fashion, with Hibs starting with nine men after Jones and Murphy were late emerging from the tunnel.

However, that failed to shift the momentum of the match and after Killie lost Peter Leven to injury and, following the introduction of Gary Wales, they suffered another blow when Hibs extended their lead after 59 minutes.

Benjelloun teased defender Gordon Greer before curling the ball into the far corner from 18 yards.

And, with Killie in disarray, Fletcher combined with Scott Brown and Benjelloun to finish the move he himself started by driving the third goal low into the far corner from 20 yards.

Greer pulled one back when he headed home from close range after a cross from substitute Gary Locke caused problems in the Hibs box after 77 minutes.

However, any hopes their supporters had of a comeback were quickly dismissed as Benjelloun again made space for himself before firing under Combe.

Fletcher then pounced to score with three minutes remaining after Combe mis-kicked following a cruel bobble that summed up a disastrous day for Killie.

Hibs: McNeil, Whittaker, Murphy, Hogg, Jones, Stevenson, Beuzelin, Brown, Sproule, Benjelloun, Fletcher.