Livingston will join St Johnstone in the 2020/21 League Cup final after a narrow 1-0 win over St Mirren.
The Lions were ahead after nine minutes through Scott Robinson and took that 1-0 lead into half-time. That goal was all that was needed to secure victory at Hampden, doing enough defence work to keep the Buddies from scoring as heartbreak came the way of Jim Goodwin’s team.
This semi-final was one of the closest to call out of recent last four events at Hampden. St Mirren had beaten Gary Holt’s Livingston twice in the league this season but this Lions team are very different now, unbeaten in 10 since David Martindale took over.
Both managers had tipped the other as favourite which tells you all you need to know about how tight this was going to be. It was Livingston who took the lead early on and it came from a free-kick. Josh Mullin floated a ball into the area, Efe Ambrose crashing a header off the bar before Robinson followed up to tap home.
The Lions were bombarding the box and St Mirren were struggling to deal with things. St Mirren weren’t allowed to get into their rhythm as Livi broke up play and dragged their opponents into their game. Not many chances had been created inside the opening 30 minutes but Livi had struck when they needed to.
Joe Shaughnessy felt he should have had a Saints penalty as Nicky Devlin came through the back of his ankle, but David Munro did not point to the spot. A huge 45 awaited both teams in the second half as Livi retained their slender lead.
Devlin could have put his side further ahead as Mullin broke up the wing, the right-back slicing his effort over the bar inside the box five minutes into the second half. A minute later and Craig Sibbald was the Livi hero up the other end, clearing Conor McCarthy’s header off the line.
Robinson then Jon Guthrie had a go two minutes after that as the game opened up. Jon Obika was then booked for simulation as the clock hit 75 minutes, looking for a penalty for his side. Kyle McAllister then created a tap-in opportunity for the Saints but no Buddies players could tap home.
Shaughnessy went close in the dying minutes as Livi manned the barricades, doing enough to book their place in the final against St Johnstone next month. Here are three things we learned.
One of the biggest talking points from this tie was a penalty decision by Munro. Devlin appeared to catch Saints skipper Shaughnessy on the ankle inside the box but Hampden’s Sunday official waved it away.
It was a challenge that if you don’t get you aren’t happy, but equally, you feel hard done by if it does go against you. It could have gone either way and there will be contrasting emotions over how this decision was called. Obika also had a penalty shout late on but simulation was the verdict.
Predictions come true
In the build-up to this game, both managers anticipated a tight affair with few chances and cagey elements. That was exactly the case in West Lothian, each side only having one or two clear cut chances.
Since both of these teams returned to the Premiership in 2018, there has been a maximum of two goals to split these two. Perhaps it isn’t a surprise that this was another very close affair.
The story of Livingston’s manager is well-documented but it’s a real triumph. Before Livingston, Martindale had served time in prison, now he’s a shining light of rehabilitation as manager of a League Cup final team.
11 games unbeaten, it will be an outrage if he does not pass his impending fit and proper person test. Another tale of redemption is Scott Robinson, who has gone from part-time utility man at East Fife four years ago to Man of the Match winner in a semi-final at Hampden inside four years.
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