Darren Jamieson is at it again. The Livingston keeper saved five penalties last season and it was his spot-kick antics that took the Lions into the second round of the League Cup at the expense of plucky Albion Rovers.
John McGlynn’s men needed a 4-3 penalty shoot-out win to edge past League 2 side Rovers after a 0-0 draw at a sodden Cliftonhill, with Jamieson saving two efforts from the Coatbridge side. It made up for a shocking spot-kick miss from Danny Mullen in extra-time and got a victory for Livi which at times looked unlikely against their lower-league foes.
“Coming to these kind of places, you want to come here to play well, but when you don’t play well, the main thing is to get ourselves in the hat for the next round,” said Jamieson, acknowledging that the visitors were well below their best. “We’ve got through this one and we beat Queens last week [in the Petrofac Training Cup], so both ties have been successful. That’s the main thing.”
That they made it past cup specialists Rovers, who have invested the cash they earned from making the Scottish Cup quarter-finals and taking Rangers to a replay last season wisely, was mainly down to the man known as “DJ” to the Livi fans. He made two fine stops in the second half to keep the score even and then produced his now customary penalty-saving party-trick in the shoot-out.
“It’s not that it’s written in the stars, but I felt really confident going into penalties,” continued Jamieson, whose blocks from John Gemmell and Mark McGuigan more than cancelled out Myles Hippolyte’s miss at the beginning of the shoot-out. “Even the couple that have sent me the wrong way, I’ve thought about going that way, but I can’t be too critical. Saving two penalties out of the five – I’ll take it.”
Despite facing so many penalties last season – Jamieson reckoned it was nine in total – the 23-year-old had never been involved in a shoot-out until Saturday. He revealed that Livi had prepared efficiently beforehand and that it helped them get an edge.
“On the Friday afternoon we had a practice. All the players were practising the walk up from the centre-circle, and I’d like to point out that I saved all of mine,” he laughed. “It was definitely good preparation.”
On the match itself, Jamieson revealed how tough the League 2 side were. “We found it really hard to break them down during the match,” he said. “They hit us on the counter-attack and were doing really well. I had to make a couple of saves that were just coming through legs and that made it harder for myself, but as I said, we got through it – that’s the main thing.”
It was also important for Jamieson to put on a show after the arrival of former Hibs goalkeeper Paul Grant last week, who took his place on the bench and will push his team-mate hard for the gloves.
“Paul’s a good lad, he’s come in and it’s great competition for myself – he’s looked every bit as impressive as I expected him to be. But if he’s going to step up his game then I’m going to have step up my game. His arrival certainly hasn’t done me any harm.”
Manager John McGlynn may wish to shuffle the players in front of Jamieson around for next week’s Championship opener at Hibs as his side were a little lethargic in Coatbridge. Kyle Jacobs and Gary Glen were both denied by Rovers keeper Neil Parry as the Lions shaded the first half, but after that, Ally Love was twice denied by Jamieson in the second half and Gemmell headed wide from close-range as the hosts put the pressure on.
Livi could have won it in extra time when, right on the 105th minute, Gemmell handled a cut-back from Jacobs in the box and referee Des Roache instantly awarded a penalty. Mullen stepped up to take it, but skied it so violently that it almost cleared the far wall behind Parry’s goal. Think Roberto Baggio in the 1994 World Cup final, but worse.
Thankfully for Livingston, Jamieson performed much better in the spot-kick stakes.
Albion Rovers: Parry; Reid, M Dunlop, S Dunlop, Turnbull; McKenzie (Pollock 106), Young, McGuigan, Phillips; Love (Mullin 67), Gemmell. Subs: Hughes, Maguire, Cusack, Donnelly, Dallas.
Livingston: Jamieson: Sives, Gallagher, Fordyce, Rutherford; O’Brien, Ky Jacobs; McKenna, Glen (Robertson 66), Mullen (Hippolyte 105); Ogleby (White 26). Subs: Grant, Ke Jacobs, Beaumont, Burchill.
Referee: Des Roache