St Mirren are heading back to Hampden for the second time this season after a dramatic 5-4 penalty shootout victory over Kilmarnock, following a 3-3 draw after extra-time.
Kilmarnock striker Kyle Lafferty was ruled injured in a big pre-match blow but the home team still found the net through Zeno Ibsen Rossi and Greg Kiltie before half-time. It came after Colin Doyle spilled Ilkay Durmus’ cross into the Kilmarnock goal to open the scoring for Saints. The Ayrshire team continued to press home their advantage but Joe Shaughnessy’s header sent the game to extra-time.
Ross Millen’s penalty looked to have sealed it before Jamie McGrath’s spot-kick with virtually the last kick of the game provided a shootout. St Mirren held their nerve to secure their spot in the final four alongside Hibs, Dundee United and St Johnstone, their second trip to the national stadium this season after reaching the League Cup semi-finals in January.
An unfortunate error broke the deadlock. A training ground free-kick routine from St Mirren allowed Durmus to clip a chipped ball into the box that looked easy enough for Doyle to gather. But it slipped through his fingers and into the net to give Saints a lead their early pressure merited.
Both teams could have been doing with tightening their defences as the game presented several opportunities for each team over 120 minutes. Lafferty’s miss for Kilmarnock in this Scottish Cup tie was beginning to look evident as while they did throw plenty into St Mirren’s box, nobody was able to guide it home.
The Northern Irishman would have been proud of Rossi’s header eight minutes from half-time, throwing opposing defenders out the way to head home Chris Burke’s corner and his first senior goal. Kilmarnock would be ahead moments before the interval, George Oakley beating the offside trap to tee up Kiltie for a side-foot finish.
It was a blow for St Mirren who looked fairly comfortable prior to opening the scoring. Lafferty has scored 10 goals in eight appearances for Kilmarnock but his teammates were filling the void. Shaughnessy had to make a last-ditch tackle to stop Kiltie doubling his tally three minutes after the restart prior to Millen having a header hooked off the line.
Kilmarnock were causing all sorts of problems even without their main striker and Saints goalkeeper Jak Alnwick made a super stop from Kiltie on the hour-mark. There looked to be one winner but Saints managed to level as they gained momentum, Shaughnessy firing a header past Doyle seven minutes from time.
Two of the three previous quarter-final ties this weekend had gone to extra-time and this was also going the distance Penalties had decided the winners in both extra-time bouts prior to this too and a penalty sealed this game before it got to the shootout.
Kyle McAllister was deemed to have brought down Brandon Haunstrup in the box by referee Don Robertson, Millen firing low to put Kilmarnock back in front. More drama was to unfold with Robertson pointing to the spot again after a Doyle foul on Doyle-Hayes, McGrath dispatching coolly to set the stage for more spot-kicks.
Gary Dicker and McGrath opened things in the shootout before Rory McKenzie was denied by Alnwick’s legs. Cammy MacPherson put Saints ahead and Kyle McCallister scored the decisive penalty to send St Mirren back to Hampden. Here are three things we learned.
The Northern Irishman has averaged more than a goal a game since arriving at Kilmarnock but arrived for this fixture wearing a protective boot. His injury has been described as ‘minor’ and Kilmarnock will hope this is the case as they fight for Premiership safety, two points above the relegation play-off spot and five above 12th. They coped well without him here.
For the first time since the League Cup was formed back in the 1940s, both Celtic and Rangers are out of both domestic cups before the semi-finals. It presented a big chance in the League Cup and lightning has amazingly struck twice in the one season. For the remaining teams – Hibs, Dundee United, League Cup holders St Johnstone – it’s anybody’s cup to win.
St Mirren have had a very promising season under Jim Goodwin but it was a case of what if again for the Paisley side. Missing the top six by two goals, A League Cup semi-final defeat to Livingston all provided scars but Scottish Cup quarter-final victory means they will contest two semi-finals in the one season for one of the first times in their history.
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