Livingston manager John McGlynn hailed goalkeeper Darren Jamieson for his match-winning heroics that fired the Lions into the Petrofac Training Cup final after a sudden-death shoot-out.
The hosts were made to sweat for their rewards last nightmind you, League One Stranraer proving more than a match for the Lions who will now go on to contest their first final in ten years this April.
Livi were rocked just seconds prior to alf-time when striker Jamie Longworth created space on the edge of the penalty area before finding the bottom corner to give his side the lead at the interval – McGlynn’s players subsequently departing to the dressing-room to a chorus of boos after what was a lacklustre display.
But the introduction of Gary Glen on the hour sparked the home side into life and it was the former Hearts striker who restored parity with a crisp drive from 20 yards after a terrific move involving Keaghan Jacobs.
After neither side could force a winner, it was left to Jamieson to emerge as Livi’s saviour in the shootout which had finished 4-4. Jason Talbot scored first for Lions in sudden death which meant Anthony Marenghi had to convert, but Jamieson dived low to save and send the club through.
It was the fourth penalty that 23-year-old Jamieson has saved this season, adding to the five he managed during last year’s campaign and prompting McGlynn to compliment his No.1 in what is fast becoming an endearing attribute of his game.
“He’s done it time and time again,” the Livi boss, below, beamed. “It’s not a coincidence or a fluke, he’s good at it. Congratulations to him because he’s had an outstanding game. In extra time, DJ has also made a great save to keep us in the game so we’re thankful for that. When it comes to penalties, it’s all about being confident.
“We certainly made it hard for ourselves. Barring the Hearts match, we’ve been to extra time in every round of this cup but fair play to Stranraer as they were difficult opposition as we had expected. There was a reality check at half-time and we came out in the second half a lot better as we got our goal at the right time.”
Danny Mullen had forced visiting goalkeeper David Mitchell into a one-handed stop in the sixth minute but that was as good as it got until Longworth broke the deadlock seconds before the interval.
The introduction of Myles Hippolyte and Glen paid dividends after the break as the latter notched his first goal for the Lions since his switch from Ross County in the summer – a terrifically taken angled drive into the far corner.
Hippolyte then tested Mitchell with a stinging drive in the final minute that had the Stranraer goalkeeper stretching to reach the ball before Keaghan Jacobs should have wrapped things up two minutes into added time but the 25-year-old rolled the ball wide from just a couple of yards.
But it was all about Jamieson in extra time as he stood up brilliantly to deny goalscorer Longworth when through on goal to send the tie to spot kicks.
With the outcome of Livi’s opponents in the final still to be determined, McGlynn is just content to have made this stage of the competition.
“The club won the League Cup in 2004 so it’s our first cup final in ten years. No disrespect to East Fife or Alloa but i If it is Rangers then it could be a big income and a big crowd to play in front of.”
Livingston: Jamieson, Sives, Talbot, Fordyce, Kyle Jacobs, Keaghan Jacobs, O’Brien, McKenna (Burchill 98), White, Mullen (Glen 60), Rutherford (Hippolyte 46). Subs: Walker, Ogleby, Robertson, Praprotnik.
Stranraer: Mitchell, Gallagher, Longridge (Russell 105), Rumsby, McKeown, Aitken, Winter, Stirling (Stoney 80), Malcolm, Longworth, Gibson (Marenghi 69). Subs: Tobin, Forde, McCloskey.
Referee: George Salmond.