Hibernian 1-2 Ross County: Stubbs rues "cruel" cup final defeat

Alan Stubbs
Stubbs has won 12 of the 15 cup ties he has faced since taking charge of Hibs in the summer of 2014

Hibernian manager Alan Stubbs felt defeat to Ross County in the League Cup final was "cruel" on his players.

Alex Schalk's 90th minute winner won the cup for County after Liam Fontaine had levelled for Hibs following Michael Gardyne's opener.

"They're going to be majorly disappointed because on another day they could be celebrating now," Stubbs told BBC Scotland.

"That's how close it can be at times. That's football. It can be cruel."

Stubbs admits he thought the match was heading for extra-time before Schalk's last-gasp winner, and feels that's the least his team deserved.

"I thought we were the better team," he said.

"I don't think there's any denying that, but how many times have we been in this position that the best teams don't necessarily win.

"You've got to give Ross County credit, they put an awful lot into the game. They've matched us up, which they've not done in a lot of games this season, because of our threat. It became a midfield battle.

"Overall did we do enough? Maybe, but maybe not. I felt we were the better team. Not massively, but I felt we just shaded it.

"Unfortunately you don't get a winners medal for that."

Hibs' hopes of automatic promotion from the Championship appear to be all but over as they trail leaders Rangers by 17 points.

A second-place finish would offer Hibs a crack at promotion to the Premiership via the playoff final, and they currently trail second-placed Falkirk by three points with two games in hand.

Stubbs' men also have a Scottish Cup quarter-final replay against Inverness Caledonian Thistle to look forward to on Wednesday, and the Easter Road boss wants his players to refocus quickly after defeat in the Hampden final.

"There's still a huge amount to play for. Anything you do in cup competitions is a bonus. We would have loved to have won today.

"Congratulations to Jim, Billy and Roy. They've done a great job there and it's a fairytale story for them."

Jason Cummings
Hibs players show their disappointment at full-time