Livingston boss Mark Burchill has praised jail-threatened Declan Gallagher after the defender scored the winner in Tuesday night’s 3-2 League Cup victory over St Mirren.
The 24-year-old’s 85th-minute strike sent the Lions into this afternoon’s third-round draw, a topsy-turvy affair in Paisley that also saw the Almondvale side reduced to ten men after striker Danny Mullen’s reckless challenge on Saints’ Jordan Stewart.
However, Burchill was keen to highlight the contribution of Gallagher, who was convicted of assault in June and handed a three-year jail sentence for his attack on Steven Findlay with a baseball bat outside a Lanarkshire hotel in April 2013.
An appeal was lodged by Gallagher’s legal team which enabled him to sign again for Livi last month.
“He’s had a tough time of it as it’s been well documented,” Burchill said of his player. “But since he came to this football club he’s been a fantastic professional. For him to score the winner on Tuesday, I was really pleased for him. I think his wife is due around now as well so that’s fantastic for him and his family with what they’ve been through.”
Gallagher has started in all but one of Livi’s league and cup matches this season, carrying on from where he left off last season where he made 33 appearances for the Championship outfit. Nevertheless, Burchill admitted the club has had to monitor his mental approach to games.
“He’s not a nervous character but I think he has found it tough going which you would expect,” he said. “As the crowds get bigger, he starts to hear things and that can affect him. We just need to work with him mentally but he’s fine because he’s a very level headed guy. He is a good guy to have around the dressing-room.”
The Livi boss is hoping his side can achieve a similar outcome when the teams meet again at St Mirren Park on Saturday in the Ladbrokes Championship.
Burchill said: “It’s important we get off the mark in the league so I’m desperate for the three points. I’ll try and set the team up to go there and try and win the game again.”