Livi’s Burton O’Brien faces generation game with Dons

Decade ago: Burton O'Brien's winner against Aberdeen
Decade ago: Burton O'Brien's winner against Aberdeen
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Livingston’s Burton O’Brien knows what it’s like to be on a winning side against tonight’s League Cup opponents and current holders Aberdeen.

He is the lone survivor of the West Lothian club’s Scottish Cup heroics ten years ago when the Premier Division side earned a 1-1 draw at Pittodrie before the midfielder himself netted the only goal of the game in the replay 12 days later.

Although Livi succumbed to defeat at the next hurdle, a 3-1 semi-final loss to eventual winners Celtic, O’Brien has some fond memories to retrace from those clashes against tonight’s opposition where he also scored the winner in a 2-1 league triumph just 72 hours after sending the Dons crashing out.

Four days before that first tie in March 2004 was of course the club’s finest hour when they defeated Hibs 2-0 to lift the CIS Insurance Cup at Hampden – O’Brien again playing a significant role before making way for substitute Jon-Paul McGovern in the 89th minute from a starting XI that included none other than David Fernandez, Marvin Andrews, Emmanuel Dorado and Rubio to name a few.

Recalling what was his first spell at the club before leaving for Sheffield Wednesday, O’Brien said: “We played Aberdeen twice in the same week and I scored both the goals.

“It was a great week for me personally getting on the scoresheet, but I have no doubt it will be different this time around. The pressure will be off us and all on Aberdeen so we’ll be looking to go up there and give a good account of ourselves. We don’t fear them, though Derek McInnes has built a good side and they will be favourites.”

O’Brien has matured since those exploits as a fresh-faced 22-year-old, a three-year stint in England at Hillsborough followed before his move back north with Falkirk in 2008. Now settled in his second spell at the Energy Assets Arena, O’Brien, 33, is calling for further success with a Petrofac Training Cup semi-final against Stranraer also beckoning next month.

“If you get the cup runs going then it carries your season on and Raith Rovers can tell you that themselves from last season,” he said.

“It builds confidence within the squad, so we’ll certainly be looking to continue the run tonight. It’s a great platform for the younger guys to go and show they can step up another level.

“The games are coming thick and fast. After Aberdeen we’ve got Hearts, Rangers and then Stranraer in the semi-final, so these are the games you want to play in. It’s not always been like that in the past so we’re looking forward to the next month.”

Raith are the first to have sampled victory in West Lothian this season, former Livi player Martin Scott coming back to haunt his one-time team-mates with the only goal of the game in Saturday’s victory by Grant Murray’s side.

However, O’Brien recognises the new-look Livi squad are making headway under John McGlynn who recruited nine players over the summer.

“Saturday was the first game we’ve lost at home this season so it was disappointing,” he continued. “Overall though we weren’t too disappointed with the performance, but, ultimately, it was Raith who got their goal. We had a fair bit of the ball and found ourselves in some good positions but weren’t clinical enough in the final third. We just have to keep going though.

“We said in the dressing-room after the match just how tight the league is so we’ve got to be at it week in, week out if we’re going to have a successful season.”