Livingston’s resounding 4-1 victory over Hearts may have been diluted somewhat by the Jambos’ “surprising” team selection.
Nevertheless, the Petrofac Training Cup second-round success showed home boss John McGlynn that he has a squad who are able to show a ruthless streak when chances present themselves.
Visiting head coach Robbie Neilson set tongues wagging prior to kick-off as the Gorgie side’s starting line-up was announced with only defender Jordan McGhee retaining his place from Sunday’s derby triumph over Hibs.
McGlynn, meanwhile, kept his faith with the same XI that had come out on top against Cowdenbeath four days previously in the Championship.
Jordan White’s brace and further strikes from substitutes Myles Hippolyte and David Robertson eased the Lions into the quarter-finals of the League Challenge Cup at the expense of a very young and inexperienced Hearts side that, at times, struggled to contain the directness of their hosts.
McGlynn himself disclosed he was left flabbergasted by his opposite number’s decision to ring the changes, but praised his own set of players for their professionalism in what was a hugely encouraging display from the men in yellow-and-black.
Asked if he felt Neilson had underestimated Livingston’s credentials, McGlynn said: “You’d need to ask Robbie that one. I don’t know, maybe he just wanted to see the young lads in a proper game and give them the experience of playing in this one. Maybe the Petrofac Cup is not a priority for Hearts; I don’t know, it’s not really for me to say.
“But I must admit I was very surprised by it. I had heard in the media before the game that Robbie was going to make changes, but never in my wildest dreams did I think he would make as many changes as he did.
“The fear was that our players would look at the team sheet and think it’s just some young players and have the wrong attitude, but we got out the blocks and got our goal so credit to our guys. It’s now four wins out of five so far and it sets us up nicely to go down to Dumfries this weekend.”
Ultimately, the alterations to the Hearts squad won’t pose McGlynn with any restless nights as there is a real momentum beginning to accelerate from his own crop of players.
There were several impressive performances with striker White claiming his third goal in two games, brothers Keaghan and Kyle Jacobs making their presence felt throughout the side and former Junior player, Michael McKenna, reinforcing that he has adjusted to his new surroundings with relative ease.
“We’re obviously happy in the end,” McGlynn said. “It was good to get the early goal, but if we had maybe followed up with another goal in the first half then we might have made it that more comfortable for ourselves. Midway through the second half it was still 1-0 and Hearts were still going for it.
“I thought the young Hearts lads passed the ball very well in the second half, but we were coping with that and on the counter-attack were very dangerous.
“When Myles came on – the fresh legs and he has got the skill and ability – he did exceptionally well for the short period he was on the pitch. And Michael has impressed since the minute he walked in and doesn’t look out of place at all. He’s very effective and it’s only a matter of time before he gets on the scoresheet.
“It was a good performance, but the thing that took the icing off the cake was Jason Talbot sticking the ball in the back of our net.”
With the quarter-final already on the horizon – all four ties scheduled for September 6 although the draw is yet to be made – McGlynn added: “Another home draw would be nice. Hearts are out, Hibs, Raith Rovers, Queen of the South – a lot of the teams that maybe would have fancied their chances. So looking at it I think we’ve got as good a chance as anyone else.”