REACTION: Martindale & McGlynn reflect on Scottish Cup cracker

David Martindale and John McGlynn were both proud of their sides after Livi’s 2-1 extra time win over Raith in the Scottish Cup. Cameron Wanstall reports.

(Photo Credit – Paul Devlin/SNS Group)

Betfred Cup finalists Livingston booked their place in the Scottish Cup fourth round with a 2-1 victory, after extra time, over Championship play-off hopefuls Raith Rovers on Saturday afternoon. 

Raith took the lead at the Tony Macaroni Arena through a superb Lewis Vaughan free kick, before the home side found an equaliser in the second half from an acrobatic Jack Fitzwater finish. 

Each side had plenty of chances to win the game in normal time but it was the visitors, struggling with fatigue, who finally crumbled. An 110th minute winner from substitute Matej Poplatnik won the tie for the hosts. 

Both managers had plenty to say after the exciting clash, with both teams now preparing for the run-in in their respective leagues. 

A Frustrating Start

Despite winning the tie, Livingston manager David Martindale was still frustrated by the goal conceded by his side in the first half. However, he did accept his team done well to get back into the game. 

“It was a bad goal. I hate losing goals like that, just really cheap. Like our second, I think, is a fantastic goal. Losing goals like that you don’t mind so much, it’s good play.” said Martindale. “Fair play to the kid from the free kick but it is two yards inside the front post. I never seem to get they goals, I’d love them!

“There was a wee ten-to-fifteen minute spell where we found it hard to get to grips with Raith, I think they got a wee kick out of that and they got a lift of confidence from it. There was a spell where they popped the ball about for fun, they done really well but I thought it was probably a penalty with Alan Forrest so they got a wee bit lucky with that. 

“When we got our goal, I told the boys: ‘just keep doing the same thing.’ Because I thought Raith had played a lot of football as of late – I’ve been in their shoes and it’s difficult.” Martindale admitted. “They were struggling to get out to initiate their press so I was quite confident once we got the equaliser we’d probably go on to win the game to be honest.”

Missed Opportunities

Raith manager John McGlynn was pleased with his team’s effort but could not hide his disappointment after failing to see off Livingston early in the tie. A first half injury to loanee striker Jamie Gullan affected the visitors’ attacking output. 

“I thought we were excellent first half. Very, very good first half. Lewis Vaughan executed the goal very well but Jamie Gullan was causing them a lot of problems. It was a blow to us to lose Jamie – a big blow cause he was causing all kinds of problems in between the right-back and the right centre-back.” said McGlynn. “We probably didn’t take advantage of that as much as we should’ve.

“The opportunities we got were good, better than half chances but we didn’t make enough of them. We could have easily been going in at half-time with a two goal cushion. Second half didn’t go quite as much to plan, we didn’t create as much in the second half of the game.”

Regarding extra time, McGlynn revealed fatigue may have been a factor in his side’s defeat. “Maybe, just all the games we played recently maybe just caught up with one or two of us in the second half whereas Livingston were fresh. They managed to create a good goal by getting in behind us down the right side and getting the ball across.”

Injury Woes in Kirkcaldy

An injured Kieron MacDonald was removed from the starting eleven before kick-off, while Jamie Gullan was substituted in the first half after picking up a knock. McGlynn gave an update on both after the match. 

On Gullan, McGlynn said. “He took a bit to his back and hip, which sent a reaction down to his hamstring. It doesn’t look too bad but it was bad enough that he couldn’t continue. We’d hope he’d be okay for next week because he did exceptionally well on Tuesday night and it was looking like he was on fire in this game today until he had to come off.”

“Kieron came off on Tuesday night and we knew he had a groin injury. Kieron’s part-time so we seen him on Thursday night only.” McGlynn said of MacDonald, “It was a little bit of a gamble to put him in the starting eleven – a gamble that we thought was worth taking but during the warm-up we realised he was only going to make it worse, so we made the change. It wasn’t ideal. 

“It’s good for Iain Davidson who comes in and gets his 500th game but I would’ve liked to have had a natural left-sided player in there and Kieron been doing really well recently. It was a blow to lose him, a blow to lose Jamie Gullan and these are things that did have an affect on our performance.”

Good Mood Martindale

David Martindale, still visibly pleased with Livingston’s win, was full of praise for his opponents. “I think we deserved to win the game but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Raith Rovers in the Premiership next year. They’d be a fantastic addition to the league and the average age of their squad – take away Benedictus, Davidson and Jamie (MacDonald) – they’ve got a right good young squad so fair play to John and Smudger (assistant Paul Smith) for the team they’ve built.”

However, the Livi boss gushed even more over one of his own: advanced wing-back Nicky Devlin. Martindale said, “Nicky, for me, is an eight out of ten every week. Then there is the weeks where you’ll get nines and tens out Nicky. He can be fantastic, a minimum eight out of ten. He’s one of the first names on the team sheet because defensively he gives you everything he has got and offensively he’s always an option. He’s done absolutely brilliant this year for us.”

Looking Ahead

Speaking of his squad’s Premiership aspirations, McGlynn said. “I think the players will take belief from this. We came here today and matched a Livingston side sitting fifth in the table, the fifth best team in Scotland right now… We could compete against one of these (Premiership) teams and play well. 

While Raith push for promotion, Livingston are pushing for European qualification. With major big six clashes to come, an excited Martindale said. “I don’t mean this disrespectfully but we could be travelling to an away game at Ross County. We’re going away to Parkhead; away to Easter Road; coming to meet Rangers here. It’s brilliant. It’s absolutely fantastic that we’ve managed to get ourselves in the top six. 

“I’ve spoken to the boys, we need to try and go for fourth. We might finish sixth, might finish fifth but we’re definitely going to try our best to get fourth. I think these games suit us, playing bigger opposition and we are the underdog. Those games are always a wee bit more open and expansive and it suits our style of play.”

For the Scottish Cup – after confusion on whether the fourth round draw would be made on Sunday or Monday – Martindale cares only about Saturday’s triumph. “We’re in the hat in the next round. That’s all that matters at the end of the day.” 

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