David Martindale’s Midas touch continues as Livingston book a cup final spot



Posted Monday, January 25, 2021 by PA

David Martindale’s Midas touch continues as Livingston book a cup final spot

David Martindale’s Midas touch continued as the Livingston manager led his side to within 90 minutes of silverware following a 1-0 Betfred Cup semi-final win over St Mirren.

Scott Robinson’s ninth-minute goal proved enough to set up a February 28 meeting with St Johnstone and give the Lions the chance to add to their 2004 success in the tournament.

Martindale has enjoyed the best introduction to management imaginable since stepping up to replace Gary Holt in November. Livi won their first eight games under his charge before drawing twice with Celtic.

Martindale could even afford to rest seven players against the champions in midweek before unleashing his strongest team against St Mirren, barring the suspended Ciaron Brown.

The 46-year-old will hope another Hampden encounter does not scupper his big day with the Scottish Football Association still to determine whether he passes their fit-and-proper test, having been sentenced to a six-year jail term in 2006 following drug and money-laundering charges.

Livi succeeded thanks to a dominant start but they had a fair amount of scares against a St Mirren side who have also impressed in recent times, beating Aberdeen and Rangers on their way to Hampden and losing just three of their previous 17 matches.

The Paisley side had a couple of penalty claims rejected and had some good second-half chances at Hampden.

Livingston made their intentions clear from the start and both Jon Guthrie and Josh Mullin got shots on target inside the first three minutes.

The decisive goal came following a free-kick wide on the left. Mullin swung the ball in, Robinson flicked it on, Efe Ambrose headed against the bar and the converted centre-forward nodded home the rebound from close range.

St Mirren could not settle or get anywhere near Livingston’s box in the opening quarter but they gradually forced their opponents back. Martindale’s players were pressing with aggression at every opportunity though to keep them at arm’s length.

There were a couple of first-half let-offs for Livi. The first came when Nicky Devlin caught Joe Shaughnessy late on the calf with an attempted clearance inside the box, referee David Munro playing on.

Livi were caught on the back foot just before the break when Dylan Connolly won a challenge with Julien Serrano in the centre circle and had space to run into. However, the winger’s attempt to find Eamonn Brophy was cut out by Ambrose.

Livi had a good chance on the counter-attack early in the second half but right-back Devlin volleyed well over following Mullin’s cross.

Saints had a better opportunity moments later when Conor McCarthy escaped his marker to meet Jamie McGrath’s corner, but Craig Sibbald was perfectly placed to clear the header off the line.

Brophy headed over a tougher chance from another set-piece before being joined by Jon Obika up front midway through the half as Jim Goodwin put another striker on. Kyle McAllister and Ilkay Durmus were also introduced in an attempt to give the Buddies some creativity out wide.

Obika was involved in the biggest talking point of the second half in the 75th minute. The powerful striker had worked his way inside Serrano and along the byeline before going down under pressure from the left-back. There was upper-body contact between the pair but no sign of a foul and referee Munro decided Obika’s actions were worthy of a yellow card for simulation.

The striker soon failed to get a decent contact on a free header from seven yards following a cross by McAllister, who soon wasted a great chance to tee up a team-mate when his low ball across goal went behind two black-and-white shirts.

Livi brought on defender Jack Fitzwater for Robinson but there was one last chance for Saints when Shaughnessy got his head to a corner in a crowded goalmouth but could not steer the ball on target.

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