Cup specialists Livingston edged a five-goal thriller at St Mirren Park last night to book their spot in the third round of the League Cup.
Having already secured a place in the last eight of the Petrofac Training Cup, a trophy they won last season, the Lions ensured their place in tomorrow’s third-round draw at Hampden with a gritty display in what proved a heated affair in Paisley.
Referee Brian Colvin distributed no fewer than ten yellow cards, six awarded in the direction of the visitors before Livi’s Danny Mullen was shown a straight red in injury time for a lunge on Jordan Stewart.
And Livi boss Mark Burchill was far from complimentary over the performance of Colvin and his officials.
“It was feisty, but I don’t think the referee helped to be honest,” Burchill said. “I spoke to the fourth official and said to him ‘he’s going to have to be really careful here’.
“But I’m delighted to get through and hopefully the guys will take real belief from it. Hopefully it can give us that confidence to come back here on Saturday and win.”
It was Livi who carved out a prime opportunity within 30 seconds as Scott Pittman, restored to the starting XI after missing the weekend defeat to Falkirk through injury, raced across the edge of the box before feeding the supporting Ross Millen down the right. The full-back had time to steady himself before sending in a cross that was met by Mullen, but the youngster headed well wide with just St Mirren goalkeeper Jamie Langfield to beat.
So often the centre of controversy, Jim Goodwin picked up the game’s first yellow card for an alleged elbow on Mullen before the hosts stole the lead against the run of play.
Lewis Morgan managed to escape the attention of Jackson Longridge down the left and produced a deft cross for Calum Gallagher to tap in from just four yards.
The visitors, though, continued to impose themselves in the opposition’s half and Mullen again went close from a Ben Gordon knock down.
However, Livi’s perseverance eventually paid off four minutes from the interval when great link up play from Pittman and Mullen presented Buchanan, who took one touch to control before sending an exquisite lob that sneaked in off the far post.
Goodwin was substituted by manager Ian Murray two minutes before the break as tempers frayed before the Almondvale outfit grabbed their second goal in the space of four minutes.
Myles Hippolyte’s long throw into the danger area picked out the head of Gordon and despite Langfield getting a hand to the defender’s initial effort, Mullen was quickest to react to prod home from just a couple of yards out.
But in the space of 60 seconds, Mullen quickly became the villain as he conceded a needless foul with just seconds of the first half to spare, and from 25 yards out, Stephen Mallan curled in an audacious effort that sailed into Darren Jamieson’s top right-hand corner.
Buchanan went agonisingly wide moments after the break to restoring the visitors’ lead, the former Alloa striker’s left-footed drive just going beyond the far post.
Similarly to the first half, Livi had Saints camped in their own half as the game wore on, at times their final touch letting them down in and around the box.
St Mirren, on the other hand, seemed hesitant to commit players forward and ultimately paid the price with little more than five minutes remaining.
Mullen bore the brunt of a nasty looking challenge from Stewart and from the resulting free-kick from Millen, Gallagher had all the time at the back post to compose himself before sliding the ball under Langfield.
However, Livi’s night was soured with the dismissal of Mullen right on full time, the agitated midfielder recklessly lunging into Stewart, who was subsequently stretchered off.
St Mirren: Langfield, Watson (Cuddihy 46), Baird, Kelly, Goodwin (Carswell 44), Howieson (McMullan 59), Mallan, Morgan, Gallagher Thompson, Stewart. Subs: Ridgers, Gow, Agnew, McLear.
Livingston: Jamieson, Millen (Sives 90), Gallagher, Gordon, Longridge (Georgiev 77), Pittman, Cole, Gibbons, Hippolyte, Mullen, Buchanan (White 90). Subs: Gould, Faria, Sheerin, Glen.
Referee: Brian Colvin.