Livingston edge past St Mirren to reach Scottish League Cup finalNo ratings yet.

Livingston edge past St Mirren to reach Scottish League Cup final
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Scott Robinson (left) headed Livingston into an early lead at Hampden
Scott Robinson (left) headed Livingston into an early lead at Hampden

Livingston survived a late bombardment to edge past St Mirren at Hampden and set up a Scottish League Cup final against St Johnstone.

Scott Robinson’s early header ultimately made it 11 games unbeaten under David Martindale as the club reached just their second major final.

St Mirren had a strong penalty claim dismissed, when Nicky Devlin caught Joe Shaughnessy, and finished strongly.

But Livingston clung on to secure a return to Hampden on 28 February.

Martindale’s midas touch shows no signs of fading, with the head coach’s ninth win the most precious of his embryonic tenure.

Livingston’s only previous silverware came in this competition in 2004 and they hadn’t featured in a semi-final for 15 years. But recent form favoured Martindale’s men in this all-Premiership tie and they wasted no time in asserting themselves.

Jon Guthrie and Josh Mullin both registered shots on target in a frantic start before static St Mirren defending was exposed as the breakthrough arrived.

Robinson was both creator and scorer, initially flicking on a deep free-kick inside the box to Efe Ambrose. When the defender nodded against the crossbar, Robinson’s attentiveness in following up was rewarded with a simple headed finish.

Eamonn Brophy dragged wide from distance as St Mirren tried to muster a response. But the striker was an isolated presence as Jim Goodwin’s men struggled for a first-half foothold while showing no hint of the performance that had claimed Rangers’ scalp in the previous round.

Even the big calls weren’t going St Mirren’s way. They should have had a penalty when Devlin clattered Shaughnessy on the calf in an attempted clearance, but referee David Munro ignored the appeals.

He did likewise after the break when substitute Jon Obika tumbled under minimal contact from Julien Serrano.

Devlin should have doubled Livingston’s lead shortly after half-time, slicing a Mullin delivery over.

And that let-off finally jolted St Mirren to life as Conor McCarthy’s header from a corner was cleared off the line by Craig Sibbald, before a dipping Aaron Connolly effort had to be helped over bar by goalkeeper Max Stryjek.

Brophy also sent a header too high as Livingston, having been so comfortable, were pinned back in the closing stages.

Perhaps the best chance for an equaliser fell to Obika from a Kyle McAllister cross, but the striker got his timing all wrong and his attempted header bounced off his shoulder and trickled to Stryjek.

Still Goodwin’s men kept coming, and still Livingston refused to buckle. Shaughnessy sent a header agonisingly wide from a corner before Obika’s drive deflected into the side-netting as St Mirren’s hopes of a first final since lifting the trophy in 2013 evaporated in the freezing Hampden air.

Man of the match – Scott Robinson

The striker capped a tireless performance with his fourth goal in six games to send his side into the final
The striker capped a tireless performance with his fourth goal in six games to send his side into the final

What did we learn?

This was the acid test of Martindale’s capabilities – and his side did him proud. Livingston have played better during their current sparkling run, but this was a gusty, committed performance from a team pushed to the limit.

With Martindale’s Scottish FA ‘fit and proper person’ hearing looming on Tuesday – at which he will learn if he can continue in the role after a previous stint in jail – the rehabilitated Livingston leader is fast becoming a real credit to the Scottish game.

St Mirren, meanwhile, can bow out with heads held high. Their jarring regret will be the meek first-half showing that allowed Livingston to wrest control.

They can’t afford to wallow in disappointment, though, with a first top-half finish in the Premiership since 1985 now the target in the remainder of the season.

What did they say?

Livingston head coach David Martindale: “I’m absolutely thrilled for the community, staff, the board, everyone connected with the club.

“I don’t think anyone remembers how you get to the final, because at times it wasn’t pretty, but who cares? It was two honest teams, giving it everything and leaving nothing on the park.”

St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin: “We’re bitterly disappointed. The boys are lying on floor in there. There’s tears and a lot of sorrow because we had a big chance to get to the final.

“You need a bit of luck in a game like this, but I don’t think we got any today.”

What’s next?

There’s no respite for either side, with Livingston hosting Kilmarnock in the Premiership on Wednesday (19:45 GMT), while St Mirren try to pick themselves up for a trip to Dundee United (18:00).

Player of the match

SibbaldCraig Sibbald

Livingston

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St Mirren

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    5.71

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    5.00

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    2.96

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Livingston 1, St. Mirren 0.

  2. Second Half ends, Livingston 1, St. Mirren 0.

  3. Foul by Conor McCarthy (St. Mirren).

  4. Marvin Bartley (Livingston) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  5. Foul by Jonathan Obika (St. Mirren).

  6. (Livingston) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  7. Ethan Erhahon (St. Mirren) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  8. Foul by Gavin Reilly (Livingston).

  9. Foul by Joe Shaughnessy (St. Mirren).

  10. Marvin Bartley (Livingston) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  11. Corner, St. Mirren. Conceded by Max Stryjek.

  12. Attempt missed. Jonathan Obika (St. Mirren) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the left.

  13. Conor McCarthy (St. Mirren) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  14. Foul by Gavin Reilly (Livingston).

  15. Foul by Richard Tait (St. Mirren).

  16. Gavin Reilly (Livingston) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  17. Attempt missed. Joe Shaughnessy (St. Mirren) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right following a corner.

  18. Corner, St. Mirren. Conceded by Efe Ambrose.

  19. Jamie McGrath (St. Mirren) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  20. Foul by Nicky Devlin (Livingston).

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