St Mirren have overcome Rangers in dramatic fashion, the Paisley side securing a League Cup semi-final spot with a remarkable 3-2 victory.
Connor Goldson fired Rangers ahead with a brilliant solo effort seven minutes in before Jamie McGrath put Saints on level terms a few minutes before half-time. It was that man again who popped up five minutes after the interval, beating Allan McGregor with a nice effort. Steven Davis looked to have broken Saints hearts before a dramatic Conor McCarthy winner in stoppage time.
Jim Goodwin was well aware that his side were massive underdogs in this. Rangers headed into the tie 27 games unbeaten but with confidence high and nine games without defeat themselves, the Buddies sensed a shock.
But things couldn’t have started much worse for them. Goldson broke forward from centre-back, showing great skill before blasting past Jak Alnwick. Many teams have faced this script before when the Gers go ahead.
Steven Gerrard’s men were relentless for the first 15 minutes, Saints struggling to get to grips with things as wave after wave of Rangers attack came forward. Joe Aribo was next to go close but the Saints would soon settle.
After the opening flurry of chances, Goodwin’s men started breaking up play and Dylan Connolly posed problems on the right. He was the architect of a big moment, taking on Calvin Bassey with the Rangers defender clipping him in the box.
A penalty was awarded and McGrath made no mistake three minutes before half-time with his fourth goal in as many games. He would make that five on the 50th minute mark, a good passage of play down the right again finding the Irishman, who dragged his shot into the bottom corner.
It was now a case of keeping calm and collected as Saints stood on the cusp of greatness. A big scare was had after the hour-mark, James Tavernier finding the net again but this was ruled offside.
This came after Ryan Kent was caught diving in an attempt to win a penalty. Rangers were certainly throwing hammer and tongs at it to avoid a huge shock, Saints manning the barricades.
It got too much for the Saints as late heartbreak was to come. Tavernier’s free-kick cannoned off the post, Davis’ effort bouncing up and into the roof in net, Goodwin head in hands after his side put so much into the game.
Not so fast. The Buddies, magically, got a third goal in stoppage time, a brilliant McGrath cross causing havoc in the box before McCarthy battered it home. Goodwin managed to get sent off for his celebrations.
He won’t care one bit as his side secured an achievement of epic proportions. Here are three things we learned from a dramatic night in Paisley.
The Irishman is on hot form for the Buddies right now. Of course his double here and five goals in four games will catch the headlines, but his overall play in midfield is vital for Goodwin.
He’s tenacious in defence and precise in attack. An all-round player, McGrath is slowly turning into the Saints’ go-to man, not just the reliable marksman from 12 yards out. His performance will go down in Saints history.
This threatened to go horribly wrong for Saints early on. They were losing inside seven minutes and Rangers were beating them in every department, but Goodwin’s plan was stuck to perfectly.
His men disrupted play whenever they could, shutting off the dangerous right-hand side of Rangers with two left-backs and pace on the counter. The character his side showed too, holy moly. What a night for the Paisley team.
This is massive not just for St Mirren, but for Hibs, Livingston and St Johnstone too. Celtic and Rangers are out and with them heading home, an opportunity awaits for a team outside of Glasgow to win a domestic cup.
Saints will be riding high and fancy their chances after this remarkable feat. But so will the other teams in the competition too.
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