In a season that will go down in the history of Livingston for all the wrong reasons, it was somewhat fitting to see the Lions cruise their way to Petrofac Training Cup glory in the Perth sunshine.
Engulfed so often by issues at boardroom level that includes receiving a five-point deduction, a transfer embargo and thousands of pounds in fines, such adversity was firmly put to one side in what was a real spirited and honest display from Mark Burchill’s men.
Goals from Scott Pittman, Callum Fordyce and a late brace from substitute Jordan White have at last given those long-suffering Livi supporters something to cheer about and a cup win that is sure to be talked about in many years to come.
Burchill himself had always maintained yesterday’s final was a rare opportunity for his side to play without the pressure of trying to make up the five-point deduction that has left them six points adrift at the foot of the Championship.
And play without that burden they did – so much so that it you begin to wonder if the points deduction incurred in November has had a far greater effect than the majority of personnel at the club have chosen to let on.
Both clubs had overcome the odds en-route to the final, Livingston’s most eye-catching result coming way back in August when they swept aside a make-shift Hearts side 4-1 while Alloa mounted an incredible comeback to overturn Rangers 3-2 in December.
However, Livi simply looked menacing from the first whistle and thoroughly deserved to take the lead midway through the first half when Myles Hippolyte, given a rare start, dispossessed Michael Doyle and the Englishman picked out former Bo’ness United man, Scott Pittman, who side-footed his effort into the corner – an incredible feat for the youngster who was plucked from the Juniors in January.
There was real cohesion as Livi ventured forward time after time but they were given a subtle reminder of their fragility when Ryan McCord wasted a header at the back post that failed to trouble goalkeeper Darren Jamieson.
The Livingston supporters who had made their way up to Perth were certainly revelling in the sunshine and they became even more exuberant when defender Callum Fordyce slammed home the second from close range just after the hour mark following a Jason Talbot corner.
Alloa’s Kevin Cawley’s strike then cannoned off the post via Jamieson’s fingertips before the opposite post again came to Livi’s rescue from resulting corner. Wasps substitute Isaac Layne then rattled the crossbar from 30 yards as Paddy Connolly’s side tried to find a route back into the game, but with time ebbing away, a revitalised Hippolyte really shone as his craftiness almost allowed Keaghan Jacobs in for a third, the midfielder’s deflected effort coming back off the post.
So often this season, though, Livi have been pegged back but there was never any danger of the cup heading to Clackmannanshire when White converted fellow substitute and former Hearts striker Gary Glen’s cross with little more than four minutes remaining. Cup glory was already secured for the Lions when White nipped in for his second to head in a Talbot cross on the stroke of full-time to get the party in full swing.
One of the survivors from Livi’s League Cup success 11 years ago, Burton O’Brien, was instrumental in his side’s triumph and said: “It’s been long hard season both on and off so I think it was crucial we got the first goal as too often this season we’ve conceded first and the confidence goes. But yesterday will give the lads a big lift for the final stretch of the season so we’ll go again on Wednesday against Falkirk.
“I’m getting towards the end of my career so I was obviously delighted to get another chance to play in a cup final, irrespective of what one it was. You maybe take these games for granted when you’re younger but it doesn’t always work like that. It was all about winning yesterday so it’s a special day and one I will remember.”
Livingston: Jamieson, Talbot, Cole, Fordyce, Kyle Jacobs (Beaumont 88), Keaghan Jacobs, O’Brien, Hippolyte (Glen 84), Gallagher, Mullen (White 69), Pittman. Subs: Walker, McKenna, Sekajja, Donaldson.
Alloa: McDowall, Docherty (Flannigan 69), Gordon, Meggatt, Cawley, McCord (Spence 82), Holmes, Benedictus, Doyle, Buchanan, Chopra (Layne 69). Subs: Gibson, Tiffoney, Rutherford, Ferguson.
Referee: John Beaton.