St Johnstone put themselves on course for a first Betfred Cup triumph with a 3-0 semi-final victory over Hibernian.
Headed goals from Jason Kerr and Shaun Rooney either side of half-time put Saints in command after Hibs had dominated the opening half-hour and hit the frame of the goal twice.
Craig Conway added a third to leave little doubt about the outcome and Saints held on without much trouble.
The Hampden win gives Callum Davidson the chance to emulate his former mentor, Tommy Wright, in winning silverware in his first season in charge. That 2014 Scottish Cup success remains the only major trophy in St Johnstone’s history.
The Perth side have twice lost to the Old Firm in the League Cup final, against Celtic in 1969-70 and Rangers in 1998-99, but will face opposition of similar stature to themselves in the form of one of Sunday’s semi-finalists, Livingston and St Mirren.
Hibs will now have to bounce back from a second Hampden semi-final loss inside three months, having lost to Hearts in the delayed latter stages of last season’s Scottish Cup.
Chris Cadden was handed his first Hibs start while Jackson Irvine continued in the ongoing absence of Joe Newell but another January signing, goalkeeper Matt Macey, dropped out as Ofir Marciano returned from a groin injury. Saints brought in midfielder Murray Davidson for striker Guy Melamed.
Hibs threatened first when Martin Boyle, playing in a central attacking role, saw a deflected effort loop just wide.
Zander Clark pulled off two good saves around the 20-minute mark before Hibs hit the bar.
Clark produced a diving stop from Paul Hanlon’s volley following a corner, and Hibs kept the pressure on. The return ball fell invitingly for Jamie Murphy but Clark blocked the initial shot with his foot and the on-loan Rangers player chipped the rebound off the bar as the goalkeeper and a defender threw themselves towards the shot.
Irvine came close with two headers, the second of which came off the junction of post and bar.
Saints had produced a couple of dangerous far-post crosses which came to nothing before taking the lead in the 34th minute. Kerr got the run on Ryan Porteous at David Wotherspoon’s corner and powered a header into the top corner.
Saints doubled their lead four minutes into the second period. Craig Conway flighted in a free-kick and Rooney ran on to it before heading beyond the outstretched hand of Marciano.
Murphy shot well over from a position outside the box that he is well-used to scoring from, and the game further slipped away from Hibs in the 62nd minute.
Rooney was again involved, running on to an inside pass and driving the ball across the face of goal for Conway to convert despite Marciano’s best efforts to keep the ball out.
Marciano saved from Ali McCann’s long-range strike as Hibs turned to comeback pair Scott Allan and Kyle Magennis to get them back in the game.
The Leith side had come from three down against Falkirk at Hampden to reach the 2013 Scottish Cup final but they never threatened to fight back this time.
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