Saturday 4 April 2015

Petrofac Training Cup Final Preview

14th of March 2004 – it’s a date no-one at Livingston will ever forget. Quick-fire goals from Derek Lilley and Jamie McAllister sealed a 2-0 win over Hibernian and resultantly brought the CIS Cup home to rest in the trophy cabinet here at the Energy Assets Arena.

5th April 2015 – a chance to make another bit of history this Sunday with the Petrofac Training Cup up for grabs. This is the second time the club has been in the final of the Scottish Challenge Cup having lost 3-2 on penalties to Airdrieonians back in 2000. An 11 year wait for another cup to land in Livingston could be over come 6pm this coming Sunday.

The road to Perth began away back in July last year down in Dumfries with Queen of the South our round one opponent. The Lions fell behind twice in normal time, with Craig Sives and Danny Mullen levelling the game and forcing extra-time. Myles Hippolyte had us 3-2 up before Michael Paton equalised and looked to have taken the game to penalty kicks. No such tie-breaker was required though as the since departed David Robertson nicked a late winner to seal an entertaining 4-3 victory and set-up a second round tie with cup favourites Hearts.

Many had written off our chances of progression with the now league champions visiting Livingston. However, a much changed Hearts starting XI took to the pitch and our boys wasted no time in racing into an early lead with Jordan White finding the net after just 6 minutes. White would double the lead with 15 minutes left to play before Hippolyte and Robertson both grabbed their second goals of the tournament to put the Lions 4-0 up, just in time for captain Jason Talbot to put through his own net and gift Hearts a late consolation.

With the quarter final staged reached, an away tie against Peterhead was next up as the Lions looked to seal a last 4 spot. Despite a staggering 26 shots at goal, our boys couldn’t find a way past Peterhead’s number 1 Graeme Smith and for the second time in 3 games, extra-time was required. With time ticking away, Myles Hippolyte popped up for the 3rd consecutive round to fire home the decisive goal in the 112th minute and send the team back down the road with a semi-final to look forward to.

With Rangers still in the hat, there was a real feeling that if we could dodge drawing them, we’d have a great chance of reaching the final. The draw did keep us apart and we were handed a home game against Stranraer. We went into the match on the back of a 4 match losing streak and despite being the favourites on paper, there was a real sense that this game would be much closer than many expected – even more so when Stranraer took the lead on the stroke of half-time. A second half goal from Gary Glen forced another period of extra-time however, there was to be no winner decided after 120 minutes of football and penalty kicks were required. After 5 penalties each, the sides were all square at 4-4. Captain Talbot put us 5-4 ahead with the first sudden death spot kick, with Anthony Marenghi needing to score to keep Stranraer in the game. Not for the first-time in his Livi career though, Darren Jamieson was to be the hero, diving to his left to push the penalty to safety and send the Lions to McDiarmid Park for this weekend’s final.

Having impressively dispatched of Rangers in the semi-final, Alloa stand between us and the trophy this weekend. After 4 league meetings this season, two draws and a win each means there’s very little to split the teams – just as Saturday’s 2-2 draw at the Indodrill Stadium proved.

If you haven’t yet got your tickets for the big game, the reception will be open on Saturday between 12 and 2 with further chances to pick up tickets from McDiarmid Park on the day too.

As always, we’ll be bringing you live updates on our Twitter page so if you can’t be in Perth on Sunday, remember to visit us at @LiviFCOfficial where you’ll be able to follow a blow by blow account of the game using the #livilive hashtag.

A first cup final in 15 years – we hope to see you there on Sunday, cheering on the team and hopefully roaring on Jason Talbot as he lifts the trophy for a first ever time.

Enjoy the game!

Pic courtesy of LIVItv