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Livingston beat St Mirren on penalties to progress in Premier Sports Cup

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

Livingston moved a step closer to emulating last season’s march to the final as they defeated St Mirren in a nerve-shredding penalty shoot-out to book their place in the Premier Sports Cup quarter-finals.

With the scores level after 120 minutes, the Lions emerged 4-3 winners in the shoot-out.

Both Keaghan Jacobs, making his first appearance in 17 months, and Craig Sibbald had efforts saved for Livingston, whilst Curtis Main and Cameron MacPherson failed to convert to for St Mirren.

Ultimately, after Jason Holt had converted in ‘sudden death’, Kyle McAllister was the fall guy as home keeper Max Stryjek make the vital save.

Alan Forrest looked to have sent Livi into the quarter-finals with his first-half opener but Buddies substitute Conor McCarthy equalised with just nine minutes to go before extra-time could not separate the teams.

In a re-run of last season’s semi-final in this competition, there was a lack of rhythm to the opening exchanges.

The ball flew from side to side and end to end without any great pattern, although Livingston did have a chance to break the deadlock after just three minutes.

Scott Pittman picked up a loose ball but could not direct his shot beyond Jak Alnwick.

The first clear opportunity arrived after 20 minutes and it was St Mirren who were left ruing their finishing.

Scott Tanser’s cross was headed away by Ayo Obileye but only as far as Greg Kiltie. He took his time but Stryjek dived to his left to beat away the midfielder’s shot.

The Buddies recycled the rebound but Stryjek was equal to Eamonn Brophy’s follow-up effort.

Just as it appeared half-time would arrive with the sides level, Livi took the lead in the 41st minute.

Craig Sibbald cleverly seized possession just inside his own half and Pittman swept a pass out to the supporting Forrest.

The winger delayed his shot, cut inside and rolled the ball into the far corner beyond the exposed Alnwick.

Yet, St Mirren should have been level just two minutes later.

Brophy beat the offside trap to run onto Richard Tait’s lofted through ball but Stryjek raced off his line to pull off a superb block before the striker screwed a second shot across goal and wide.

Livi seemed content to hold onto what they had after the interval.

They defended stoutly and sought to hit on the break and St Mirren were afforded more and more possession.

There was little to show for it, though, until with just nine minutes remaining the Buddies restored parity.

Tanser curled in a free-kick from the left and Livi’s attempt to play offside was ill-judged as McCarthy was given all the space he needed to bundle past Stryjek.

The goal gave St Mirren impetus but it was the home side who could have snatched it with the last touch of regular time.

Jack Hamilton won a corner with a deflected shot in the sixth minute of injury-time and Jack Fitzwater’s header bounced down and onto the roof of the net to ensure extra-time.

Both sides looked too scared to lose in the added half hour but there was a moment of controversy in the 110th minute.

Andrew Shinnie’s corner was headed against the post by Obileye and Nicky Devlin’s follow-up looked to have crossed the line before Alnwick knocked it clear.

But neither referee David Munro nor assistant Frank Connor agreed as Livi appealed in vain.

Having used all their replacements, St Mirren finished the tie with 10 men after Tanser limped off but they made it through to their penalty disappointment.