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David Martindale reflects on dream start to job after leading Livi to cup final

Livingston v St Mirren – Betfred Cup – Semi Final – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Livingston manager David Martindale hailed a collective effort after leading his side to the Betfred Cup final.

Scott Robinson headed home a rebound following a ninth-minute set-piece to earn a 1-0 win over St Mirren and a final date with St Johnstone on February 28.

The triumph continued Martindale’s sensational start to life in management – the Hampden success followed an eight-match winning streak and two draws with Celtic since he succeeded Gary Holt.

When asked what the win meant to him, the 46-year-old said: “It’s more about the club, I’m just absolutely delighted for the people at the club, the community, the fans. It’s been a horrendous, horrendous year for everybody and if I can give a wee bit of positivity to the fans I’m absolutely delighted.”

Martindale admits he could not have dreamed of a better start in the job.

“That’s one thing you reflect on after every game,” he said. “Even if you had asked me when I took over as caretaker manager, you’d have probably said it would be great to win the next two or three games.

“But I never thought I would be sitting here 11 games undefeated and going into the League Cup final.

“It’s a collective effort. Obviously I played a big part in that but I’m a small cog in a big wheel.”

Livi players have praised Martindale’s honesty since he took charge and he did not sugar-coat his assessment of the game.

“Truthfully? I think the ball is away to the local hospital,” he said. “Two honest teams leaving everything on the park.

“Scoring the early goal changes the dynamics. As the game went on you could see us getting more nervous, you could see St Mirren play more long balls which fell into our strengths.

“When you come in at half-time, the boys realise they are only 45 minutes away from a cup final. Although I have got boys who have been to cup finals, there’s a lot of boys in the changing room who haven’t. And I think it’s only natural they become a bit more nervous and drop and start defending your goal.”

Those nerves were blown away after the game.

“I was delighted to get out the dressing room because the volume is at maximum,” Martindale said. “The boys are in there singing and dancing.”

Those scenes were in sharp contrast to the St Mirren changing room.

Manager Jim Goodwin said: “We are all bitterly disappointed and, as you can imagine, the guys are extremely low in the dressing room.

“There’s a few boys lying on the floor, there’s been tears and real frustration at how the game panned out. We all feel as if it’s a missed opportunity.

“The first half was quite a nervy affair, I don’t think there was a great deal of football being played.

“The second half, we asked them to go out there and play a bit more like the team they have shown in recent games. I think the players can be proud of what they put into that second half, we threw absolutely everything at Livingston.

“We had a couple of half-chances, (Conor) McCarthy has had one cleared off the line, another couple of little opportunities, but in fairness to Livingston, I thought they defended brilliantly.”

Saints also had two penalty claims, one when Joe Shaughnessy was caught late by Nicky Devlin’s attempted clearance, and a second-half talking point when Jon Obika was booked for going down under pressure from Julien Serrano.

“I don’t think the one in the second half was a penalty, having watched it back,” Goodwin said. “I think the referee made the right call there. Whether it’s simulation, I’m not sure but I do think the big man goes over a little bit too easily.

“But we definitely should have had a penalty in the first half. Joe Shaughnessy clearly gets a volley in the back of his leg.

“It’s a big call, they are the kind of decisions that you need to go your way in big games but unfortunately the referee didn’t see it.”