Livingston came from a two-goal deficit to defeat Partick Thistle in extra time to progress to the next round of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup. Goals from Kerr McInroy and Aidan Fitzpatrick was cancelled out by a Joel Nouble double and a Tete Yengi header in the dying seconds of extra time.
The Lions made three changes to the side that battled valiantly in Ayrshire on Wednesday night, with Michael McGovern, Stephen Kelly and Joel Nouble coming in to replace Shamal George, Steven Bradley and David Carson.
Both sides started brightly, although the first real attempt would fall to the Jags, with Kerr McInroy getting the ball just outside the Livi box. As he looked to shape up for a shot, he instead offloaded to Aidan Fitzpatrick to the left; his shot blocked and out for a corner which came to nothing in the end.
Livi had their first positive spell of play on the ten-minute mark. Great play down the left wing by Joel Nouble allowed him to work past three Thistle players before looping a cross to the back post that had to be dealt with by the Partick defence. The resultant corner targeted Nouble at the front post, and also had to be dealt with by the defence, although there was a cry of handball as it was sent out for another corner. This was also directed at Nouble, this time getting his head to the Stephen Kelly cross, but this was easy for Jamie Sneddon to deal with in the Partick goal.
In an end-to-end start, Thistle had an opportunity thanks to a rogue pass from midfield to the Livi defence. The short pass allowed Brian Graham to run onto it, with the number nine managing to work a scoring opportunity that was held well by Michel McGovern.
The Thistle pressure kept coming, a free kick out wide to Steven Lawless allowed him to pass through to Jack McMillan, whose driven low cross into the box found Ayo Obileye, who in his haste to clear almost directed the ball into his own net.
The resultant clearance allowed the Lions to break up the other end, with Jason Holt poking the ball through to Tete Yengi. His pass found Dan Mackay on the right of the box, and his deflected shot looked like it might creep into the far corner of the net, instead missing left of the post for a corner.
It toom 27 minutes for the deadlock to be broken, but it would be broken in spectacular fashion. Great link up play found McInroy who unleashed an absolute screamer from all of 30 yards, finding the bottom right corner of McGovern’s net to give the hosts the lead.
Livi had the ball in the back of the net, a Kelly corner finding the head of Yengi who nodded home, however Nick Walsh adjudged there to be a foul in the box and pointed for a free kick.
With minutes to go to half time, it was Livi who carving the chances out, with Partick happy to absorb the pressure they were brought under. Yengi received the ball on the right side of the box, striding into the penalty area and cutting the ball back to sub Andrew Shinnie, however he was unable to get the shot goal bound.
A poor defensive header allowed Kelly to run unopposed into the box as Livi looked to grab an equaliser before the break, with his low strike to the near post saved well by Sneddon for a corner. Kelly found Obileye with his cross, but no one could get a shot on box and it was cleared by the hosts.
The Livi pressure continued into the second half with most of the play being in the Thistle half. Whilst the chances kept coming, with Yengi, Holt and Kelly all getting into great positions, Partick were resolute in their defending and preventing any shots on target.
On the hour mark the hosts would turn the pressure on and get the second of the game. McInroy managed to get the ball to Fitzpatrick, whose strike managed to creep underneath McGovern to double the lead.
The Lions got a goal back just 10 minutes later. A Kelly corner found Obileye at the back post, his header was saved well but fell to Nouble who toe poked the ball home from close range to give the visitors a way back into the tie.
And minutes later it was almost level. Another corner, this time from the right found Obileye again at the back post, but he couldn’t direct his effort on target as it flew over the bar.
Nouble was causing the hosts all sorts of problems on the right, beating players for pace as he raced into the box. A nice whipped cross evaded everyone along the goal line, including Yengi who looked the likeliest to get the touch.
It was almost game over on 75 minutes. Substitute Tomi Adeloye picked the ball up midway inside the Livi half and pushed forward in possession. Getting to the edge of the box, he whipped an effort towards the top right corner leaving McGovern powerless, but the ball crashed off the upright and back off the stranded keeper for a Partick corner.
On 82 minutes, the Lions were level. Nouble received the ball on the right wing and after a nice one-two by Brandon unleashed an absolute thunderbolt into the top left corner, much to the jubilation of the travelling fans.
From then on, it was all Livi in the drive for the winner. A through ball to Bruce Anderson almost provided that winner however his shot was held well by Sneddon.
Partick did have an opportunity in extra time winning a corner but this failed to beat the first man and was easily cleared as the seconds ticked away towards another half hour of football.
Into extra time and it was the Premiership outfit who continued to pile pressure on. Despite Nouble running for the full 90 minutes, it was his pace down the right wing again that provided the Lions with their first decent chance of the additional time. His crossed missed Yengi but found Holt, with his pass to Sangare allowing for a shot which forced Sneddon to concentrate as he held it.
With the end of the first half of extra time close, Stephen Kelly had a great chance to seal the tie for the Lions. A ball played in to Anderson inside the box was chested expertly into Kelly’s path, but his shot was tame and was comfortable for Sneddon.
With the game ticking over to penalties, it was Yengi’s turn to have a huge opportunity. Nouble played a wonderful reverse pass to allow the striker goalward but his shot was deflected wide, with Anderson standing disappointedly waiting for the cut back.
Thistle weren’t without their chances though, and a Zander MacKenzie cross should have been turned home, eventually evading everyone out for a throw-in.
Livi were screaming for a penalty with two minutes to go, Nouble linking up with Holt, the midfielder took the ball into the box and as he attempted to connect with Anderson the ball struck the hand of the Thistle defender, however ref Walsh waved away any protests.
Sneddon was pulled into a wonder save in the last minute of extra time, Shinnie sending a superb cross from the right over to Anderson, whose header was turned around the post.
With the game heading to penalties, it was going to take a moment of magic to change the outcome, and in the very last minute, with the last kick of the ball almost, it happened. A ball crossed in from the right was met by Yengi. The glanced header appeared to take an age as it headed towards the goal, clipping the post and into the back of the net, to put the Lions through to the next round of the cup.
Match Report: David Hastie
Sneddon, McMillan (Williams 71), Milne ▊, Neilson, Muirhead ▊, Stanway, Fitzpatrick (Alston 87), Bannigan, McInroy (Ngwenya 87), Lawless (Diack 64 ▊), Graham ©️ (Adeloye 64 ▊)
Subs not used:
McGovern, Donnellan (Sangare 37 ▊), Nottingham, Obileye, Brandon, Holt ©️, Pittman (Shinnie 33), Mackay (Anderson 63), Yengi ▊, Nouble, St.Kelly
Subs not used:
|Referee: Nick Walsh | HT: 0-0 | Att: 3,843