Livi continued their impressive early season Cup form as they dumped 2013 winners St Mirren out of the League Cup on a controversial night in Paisley.
Despite not picking up a point in the Championship, Livi arrived at New St Mirren Park looking for a fourth win out of four in knockout competitions against a Saints side who were also enjoying contrasting fortunes in league and cup since their relegation from the Premiership.
Livi boss Mark Burchill made four changes to his side from the weekend defeat to Falkirk as Kieran Gibbons, Scott Pittman, Liam Buchanan and Ross Millen started in place of Hugo Faria, Jordan White, Spas Georgiev and Craig Sives and it was ex-Dunfermline man Millen who was quickly into the action as he sent in a wicked cross which was met by Danny Mullen but he sent his header wide. The home side then forced their first chance of the game when Cammy Howieson found space inside the box but he dragged his effort across goal and wide.
The home side picked up two bookings in quick succession as Howieson and Jim Goodwin found their way into referee Brian Colvin’s book before Livi captain Darren Cole followed suit inside ten minutes, signalling a frustrating night ahead. A game of football was threatening to break out and it finally did on 16 minutes as the home side took the lead when Calum Gallagher finished off a neat move with a close range finish.
Livi responded well and Mullen fired in a shot from distance which deflected over before, from the resulting corner, Myles Hippolyte saw his effort deflected wide. Livi should have scored from the subsequent corner as Declan Gallagher headed the ball across goal but Buchanan couldn’t get enough on his header and it went wide.
The Lions were building up a head of steam and finally got the reward on 41 minutes with a fine goal. Darren Jamieson’s long kick upfield was knocked down to Mullen who released Buchanan and he found the back of the net with a spectacular first-time lob which beat Jamie Langfield all ends up. After being a tad fortunate to avoid a second yellow card for a foul on Mullen, St Mirren boss Ian Murray perhaps sensed Goodwin wouldn’t be so lucky next time and replaced him with Stuart Carswell.
Livi were rolling now having drawn level and they completed the turnaround on the stroke of half time when Langfield produced a fine save but the ball broke to Mullen and he gleefully tapped home to make it 2-1 to the Lions. The lead was short-lived, however, as an extraordinary first half took another twist in added time when Stevie Mallan curled in a sublime free kick to send the teams in at the break all-square.
Half-time: St Mirren 2-2 Livingston
St Mirren were forced in a change at half-time as Barry Cuddihy replaced Keith Watson, who had come off worse in a collision with his own keeper. Livi started the brighter in the second half and Buchanan twisted and turned into space but curled his effort just wide.
Both sides were doing plenty of pressing without testing the goalkeepers and it was Livi who forced the next chance as patient build-up ended with Gibbons firing a decent effort into the side netting. The home side then came close themselves as Millen was perfectly positioned to clear a low cross from under his own crossbar before not one but two Saints men took fresh air swipes at a loose ball in the box and Livi breathed again.
The Lions made their first change as Georgiev replaced Jackson Longridge but it was the Buddies who had the next effort of note as Mallan fired in an angled drive which Jamieson did well to parry wide. The home side were to rue that miss as, barely two minutes later, the Lions found the decisive fifth goal when a free kick found its way to Gallagher at the back post and he showed all the composure of a striker to slot the ball under the advancing Langfield and into the net.
There was a huge let-off for Livi on 88 minutes as Saints took advantage of a defensive lapse to go clear but Jamieson was at his very best to produce a stunning double save to protect Livi’s lead. The real controversial moment came right on 90 minutes when Mullen took less than kindly to St Mirren not returning the ball after an injury and caught Jordan Stewart with a reckless challenge. Regardless of the circumstances, it was an ugly tackle and he could have no complaints when referee Colvin produced a straight red card. Stewart was stretchered off after lengthy treatment meaning both sides would finish the game with ten men.
Mark Burchill responded to the red card, and the eight added minutes signalled by the fourth official, with a double change as Buchanan and Millen were replaced by Sives and White. In the end the Lions saw out the added time fairly comfortably to book their spot in the third round and a home tie with old rivals Inverness Caledonian Thistle on 22 September. Before that, the Lions return to Paisley on league business on Saturday, still searching for their first point of the season.
Full-time: St Mirren 2-3 Livingston
St Mirren: Langfield, Kelly, Goodwin (Carswell 44), Thompson, Howieson (McMullan 59), Mallan, Baird, Morgan, Watson (Cuddihy 46), Gallagher, Stewart
Subs not used: Ridgers, , Gow, Agnew, McLear
Goals: Gallagher (16), Mallan (45)
Livingston: Jamieson, Millen (White 90), Longridge (Georgiev 77), Gordon, Gallagher, Cole, Pittman, Gibbons, Mullen, Hippolyte, Buchanan (Sives 90)
Subs not used: Gould, , Faria, , Sheerin, Glen
Goals: Buchanan (41), Mullen (45), Gallagher (84)
Referee: Brian Colvin
Match report: Andy Crawford