Holders St Johnstone progressed to the Premier Sports Cup last eight by coming from behind twice to draw 2-2 and beat Arbroath 3-2 on penalties.
A valiant effort by the Scottish Championship side wasn’t materialised with progression as St Johnstone showed character to bounce back twice before prevailing through on spot-kicks.
Arbroath took the lead on the half-hour mark with a dangerous corner from the right by Nicky Low giving St Johnstone trouble. Joel Nouble was there from a few yards out to tap the ball home.
The cup holders pressed hard to respond immediately with Stevie May heading an effort wide and a half-volley by Callum Hendry forced a save from goalkeeper Derek Gaston. St Johnstone levelled from the penalty spot after the onrushing Reece Devine was brought down inside the area.
Up stepped Jason Kerr, who attempted to smash the spot-kick down the middle, but an outstretched save by Gaston denied the Saints captain. Glenn Middleton was there to pick up the rebound and tap in from a few yards out.
Arbroath took the lead just a couple of minutes into extra time with a Bobby Linn corner initially cleared by the St Johnstone defence landing into the path of Thomas O’Brien who sweetly struck a volley into the roof of the net past the stranded Parish. St Johnstone bounced back with Jamie McCart who guided home a fine header past Gaston.
Ricky Little and Dale Hilson fired over for Arbroath before Callum Booth and Kerr missed for St Johnstone in the penalty shootout. Bobby Linn’s spot kick cannoned off the post which allowed Ali McCann the opportunity to secure a quarter-final place for St Johnstone. The midfielder duly obliged. Here are three things we learned.
St Johnstone prevail
It wasn’t pretty from Callum Davidson’s side but they did enough over the 120 minutes, and indeed during the spot-kicks, to progress into the quarter-finals and that’s all that matters. A Tayside derby awaits St Johnstone in the next round against Dundee amid a testing run of domestic and European football.
Arbroath were excellent to a man but there will be a source of disappointment that they only converted two spot-kicks out of a possible five, but it was a good experience for the Championship club. They pushed the cup holders all the way which they can take a lot from.
In at the deep end
A late substitution to bring on St Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark for Elliot Parish wasn’t planned by any stretch of imagination. Manager Davidson wanted a big presence in the goal and Arbroath went on to miss three penalties with Clark between the sticks.
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