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Callum Davidson wants to see St Johnstone bounce back quickly

St Johnstone v Celtic – Scottish Premiership – McDiarmid Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Callum Davidson has backed St Johnstone to use Hampden as motivation as they bid to bounce back from losing their long unbeaten run with a 2-1 defeat to Livingston.

The Perth outfit tasted defeat for the first time in 12 games as Livingston leapfrogged their hosts with a third straight victory for interim boss David Martindale.

Jon Guthrie’s opener for the Lions sparked a hard-fought encounter to life just two minutes after the break.

The lead did not last long as Chris Kane levelled things up again just six minutes later.

However, Scott Robinson won it for Livingston in the 65th minute just 10 minutes after being introduced as a substitute.

Davidson confessed Saints turned in a below-par performance after a run of 11 games without loss stretching back over two months.

But the McDiarmid Park manager is confident Tuesday’s Betfred Cup quarter-final against Championship side Dunfermline will help refocus his players’ minds with a trip to Hampden at stake.

He said: “We’ll go again with a big game on Tuesday so you have to forget this one.

“Most of the players know they didn’t perform but they have a chance to make a semi-final now.

“If they can’t pick themselves up for that there’s a problem.

“I don’t have any issues. The squad I’ve got are excellent when it comes to that. Probably the best thing to do is to go and play another game.”

Saints came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first-half when Kane glanced his header against the crossbar from David Wotherspoon’s in-swinging corner.

And it was a set-piece that brought the opener for Livingston in the 48th minute.

Josh Mullin floated in a tempting free-kick and Guthrie looped his header back across home keeper Zander Clark and into the corner of the net.

Wotherspoon and Kane had been St Johnstone’s liveliest attackers and they combined to restore parity.

After a slick move, Wotherspoon fired in a cross from the right and Kane chested the ball over the line from close range.

However, Livi boosted Martindale’s hopes of landing the manager’s role permanently when Mullin whipped a ball over the top of the Saints defence for Robinson to knock past Clark.

The West Lothian side have their own quarter-final, against Ross County, to look forward to on Wednesday but also have targets in the league to meet – and possibly surpass.

Martindale said: “Our ambition is to stay in the league but, with hard work and application and luck, anything can happen.

“We finished fifth last season but I had a really good feeling and thought we could have possibly got fourth.

“With the right mindset it makes it easier and I’ve got that in my squad.”