Fitness levels aid cup holders Livingston

Livingston manager Mark Burchill. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Livingston manager Mark Burchill. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Livingston boss Mark Burchill believes it was his side’s superior fitness levels that saw them and not Queen of the South through to the Petrofac Training Cup quarter-finals.

The holders confirmed their place in this afternoon’s draw courtesy of an extra-time winner from striker Jordan White at Palmerston on Tuesday night, just three days after the Doonhamers had defeated Livi 1-0 at Almondvale in the Ladbrokes Championship.

Despite the only goal of the game arriving in 115th minute, both sides passed up more than enough opportunities to have settled the tie in normal time.

However, Burchill felt his players’ energy levels were a key factor in determining the final outcome as the match wore on.

“I asked them to go and pass the ball better than they did last Saturday, go and dominate possession and I felt we did that,” Burchill said. “Obviously, when it goes to extra time it becomes a wee bit of a lottery but I think the fitness levels of our guys were absolutely fantastic and I felt there was only one team that was going to win it. The guys listened to what we had to say. I changed the shape from the weekend and they played it perfectly. Queens changed their shape four or five times to try and combat it and they couldn’t do it. [Chris] Higgins and [Andy] Dowie had the easiest game of the season last weekend playing against wee Bucs [Liam Buchanan] up there himself so I felt we had to go and rile their centre-halves so that’s why we went with Jordan White and Jordyn Sheerin up top.”

Burchill admitted there is a real determination within the dressing-room to retain the trophy again this season with the club now just two games away from next year’s final.

“I told the guys in the team talk beforehand that it’s our cup and we need to defend it,” he said.

“I want it again next year as I’m hungry for success. To get one cup so early in my managerial career, I want to get more so there’s nothing like the present to try and get it again.”

Meanwhile, Livi have signed Portuguese midfielder Hugo Faria on a short-term contract until January.

The 32-year-old had been training with the Almondvale club over the summer and appeared as a trialist during pre-season after leaving Greek third-tier outfit Apollon Smyrni.

Burchill said of his new signing: “Hugo has played at the top levels in Portugal, Cyprus and Greece. He brings a wealth of experience that will be invaluable in the Championship this season.”