If you’d have asked a number of Scottish football fans which two sides would be contesting this season’s Betfred Cup Final, St Johnstone and Livingston wouldn’t have exactly been on the tip of the tongue!
But, both are deservedly set to battle it out at Hampden Park on Sunday as they look to create history in one of the biggest games in each club’s history.
How They Got There
Kelty Hearts 1-2 St Johnstone – Group Stage
St Johnstone kicked off their Betfred Cup campaign with a trip to Lowland League outfit Kelty Hearts. Barry Ferguson’s side put up a good fight, but were beaten 2-1 by the Perth club, with goals from Jason Kerr and Chris Kane.
St Johnstone 7-0 Brechin City – Group Stage
Callum Davidson’s men then hammered Brechin City 7-0 at McDiarmid Park – the biggest victory in the competition this season. Stevie May netted a hat trick and David Wotherspoon hit a double, with Callum Hendry and Murray Davidson adding the finishing touches late on.
St Johnstone 0-0 Dundee United (3-4 PENS) – Group Stage
It had been plain sailing for Saints in their first two games, but fellow Premiership side Dundee United made the trip to Perth for the third match in Group C. After a goalless draw in 90 minutes the match went to penalties, and it was United who would claim the bonus point with a 4-3 victory in the shootout.
Peterhead 1-3 St Johnstone – Group Stage
Going into their final group game, St Johnstone sat one point behind Dundee United and opponents Peterhead. Micky Mellon’s side had played all four matches so Saints knew that three points at Peterhead, who had won at Tannadice, would put them through as group winners. It wouldn’t be a walk in the park though, with a draw enough for the Blue Toon to secure a place in the Last 16.
After a cagey first half at Balmoor Stadium, two Stevie May penalties and a Chris Kane strike sealed a 3-1 win and all three points for St Johnstone, who marched through to the Last 16 as group winners with 10 points from a possible 12. Their reward was a trip to Fir Park to take on Motherwell.
Motherwell 1-2 St Johnstone – Last 16
After a goalless first 45 in North Lanarkshire, the game came into life in the second half. Ex-Saints striker Tony Watt came back to bite his former club as he opened the scoring on 61 minutes. But, goals from Callum Hendry and David Wotherspoon in a nine-minute spell saw St Johnstone through into the Quarter Final.
Dunfermline 1-1 St Johnstone AET (3-4 PENS) – Quarter Final
It was another away tie for Callum Davidson’s side in the knockout stage of the competition, this time a trip to East End Park as Dunfermline played host. The Championship outfit held Saints to a goalless draw in 90 minutes, but in the first four minutes of extra time Shaun Rooney put the visitors in front. With just seven to play though, Dunfermline’s Iain Wilson levelled proceedings, and St Johnstone faced their second shootout of the competition.
Saints stopper Zander Clark saved spot kicks from Paul Watson and Kevin O’Hara, which left Liam Craig with the chance to send his side through to the Semi-Final. The midfielder made no mistake from 12 yards, as he dispatched his effort coolly sending St Johnstone to Hampden Park.
St Johnstone 3-0 Hibernian – Semi-Final
They faced a strong Hibernian, labelled as favourites of the four remaining sides. Jack Ross’ side were desperate for success in this trip to Hampden after losing to arch rivals Hearts in the Scottish Cup Semi-Final three months prior, but St Johnstone had something to say about that
It turned out to be a very memorable evening for the Perth club, with Jason Kerr, Shaun Rooney and Craig Conway netting in a 3-0 victory, as Saints booked their place in the Betfred Cup Final.
Edinburgh City 1-5 Livingston – Group Stage
The Lions started there Betfred Cup journey off with a convincing 5-1 win away to Edinburgh City. Scott Robinson netted the first goal of the whole competition to get things going in the capital, then a Josh Mullin double and goals from Matej Poplatnik, Lars Lokotsch sealed the three points.
Livingston 2-1 Alloa Athletic – Group Stage
In the second game of Group H, Livingston came from behind against Alloa Athletic. The Championship side were 1-0 up at the break through Robert Thomson, but early second half goals from Alan Forrest and Josh Mullin completed the turnaround and made it six points from six in their first two matches.
Stenhousemuir 0-4 Livingston – Group Stage
Livi then saw off Stenhousemuir with a comfortable 4-0 win at Ochilview. An Alan Forrest brace followed by goals from Matej Poplatnik and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair kept the 100% record going.
Livingston 4-1 Airdrieonians – Group Stage
The final group game saw Livingston go 1-0 down at home again to lower league opposition, this time Airdrieonians taking the lead early in the second half. But, doubles from Forrest and Emmanuel-Thomas made it a comfortable 4-1 victory in the end as the Lions advanced to the Last 16 with a 100% record intact and twelve points from a possible twelve.
Livingston 4-0 Ayr – Last 16
Livi then hosted Ayr in the opening match of the knockout phase, with new boss Davie Martindale taking interim charge for the first time following Gary Holt’s resignation. It was a potential banana skin, with the Lions favourites, but the Honest Men were put to the sword early on. After just twelve minutes, Martindale’s men were 3-0 to the good with Joe Chalmers putting the ball in his own net, and Jack Fitzwater an unlikely scorer of a brace. Alan Forrest rounded off proceedings with another Betfred Cup goal, as Livingston ran out 4-0 winners, moving into the last eight!
Livingston 2-0 Ross County – Quarter FInal
Up next was another home tie, with fellow Premiership side Ross County making the trip to West Lothian after their incredible victory at Celtic Park over the holders of the cup. But, after just four minutes, Livingston took the lead through Craig Sibbald. Then, 20 minutes later, who else but Alan Forrest doubled the Lions’ lead, the competition’s top goal scorer netting his 7th goal Betfred Cup of the season. After a bit of pressure, Martindale’s men held on to the 2-0 win and advanced into their first major Semi-Final since 2006.
Livingston 1-0 St Mirren – Semi-Final
St Mirren stood in the way of Livingston’s place in the final, with the sides vying it out for another trip to Hampden, with St Johnstone already confirmed finalists. There was only one goal in the game, and it came after just nine minutes. Step up Scotty Robinson! Josh Mullin whipped in a terrific free-kick which was met by the head of Efe Ambrose. The defender’s effort smashed the crossbar, and fell perfectly for Robbo who headed home the crucial goal. That sent Livingston through to the Betfred Cup Final, as Davie Martindale and his side look to create history by becoming only the second Livi side in history to lift a major cup!
Cup Final History
St Johnstone have a better record when it comes to national Cup Final appearances, with three in comparison to Livi’s one.
Saints have appeared in two previous League Cup Finals, losing on both occasions – although they faced some pretty stiff opposition. In the 1969/70 season, the Perth club were beaten 1-0 by Jock Stein’s European Cup-winning Celtic, with Bertie Auld netting the only goal of the game. Their other League Cup final appearance came more recently, in the 1998/99 campaign when Sandy Clark’s St Johnstone faced Dick Advocaat’s Rangers. The Ibrox side won 2-1, with Jorg Albertz netting the winner.
St Johnstone will be hoping it’s third time lucky in the League Cup, and they can take solace from their latest Cup Final appearance in 2014. It was of course the Scottish Cup, but Tommy Wright memorably lifted the Saints’ first and currently only major cup, beating Dundee United 2-0 thanks to goals from Steven Anderson and current Saints coach Steven MacLean.
Livingston’s only major Cup Final appearance came in 2004, and it was a successful one at that. David Hay’s Lions roared their way to the trophy that season, seeing off Hibernian in the Final, with the now immortal Derek Lilley and Jamie McAllister netting in the famous 2-0 triumph.
It was a day to remember for all Livi fans, and it is still reminisced about these 17 years later! Here’s hoping history repeats itself and Livingston add a second League Cup to their trophy cabinet!
This Season’s Meetings
Livingston 2-0 St Johnstone – 26th September 2020
Livi earned just their second win of the season in their ninth Premiership match with a comfortable 2-0 victory over St Johnstone. Two goals in a minute sealed the three points for the Lions. Scott Tiffoney and Alan Forrest were the scorers that afternoon.
St Johnstone 1-2 Livingston – 12th December 2020
The Lions ended an unwanted 13-year record in December, as they beat St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park for the first time since 2007. Graham Dorrans netted a brace in a 2-1 victory that day, and it was fitting that it was another 2-1 win to end the hoodoo. After a goalless first half, Jon Guthrie put Livingston 1-0 up before Chris Kane equalised a few minutes later. But, Scott Robinson sealed the three points for the visitors on 65 minutes with a delightful dink over Zander Clark, as the Lions made it two wins from two against Callum Davidson’s side.
Livingston 1-2 St Johnstone – 6th February 2021
In the most recent meeting between the sides, the Perth outfit came away with all three points with a 2-1 win in West Lothian. Saints took the lead right on the stroke of half time with a super free-kick from Scott Tanser. Then, the game was effectively put to bed six minutes into the second half when Shaun Rooney powered a header past Stryjek to double the visitors’ advantage. Stryjek was called into action with eleven minutes to play, and gave the Lions some hope when he kept out Stevie May’s penalty. That belief of a comeback spurred Livi on to grab one back when Jason Holt set up Scott Pittman to make it 2-1, but Saints ran out deserved winners, with Martindale’s men unable to find a late equaliser.
So it’s St Johnstone with the bragging rights at the moment after that win earlier this month, but Livingston lead 2-1 in the meetings between the sides this season!
Played – 31
Livingston Wins – 11
Draws – 5
St Johnstone Wins – 15
St Johnstone Last Six: W-L-W-L-W-D
The Saints are definitely the form side going into this one, with just two defeats in their last eleven matches – with those coming against Celtic and Rangers!
Their last match was an emphatic 3-0 victory over Motherwell at Fir Park, with Callum Davidson’s side sitting in 8th, eyeing a top six spot with three games left until the split.
Livingston Last Six: D-L-L-W-D-W
Whilst it’s been three games without a win, Livingston had been on a phenomenal run of 14 matches unbeaten, which was actually ended by Sunday’s opponents St Johnstone at the beginning of the month.
But, The Lions head to Hampden in the exact same form as they did going into the 2004 League Cup Final, with two losses and a draw in their last three.
Here’s hoping that’s a good omen, and it’s back to winning ways for Davie Martindale’s men come kick off!
OUR TOWN. OUR TEAM. WE ARE LIVINGSTON.
COME ON THE LIONS!
How To Watch The Game:
Full details on how to watch the game can be found here – https://bit.ly/PSCFDS
Referee – Don Robertson
Assistant Referees – Daniel McFarlane & Graham McNeillie
Fourth Official – Euan Anderson