St Johnstone have won the Betfred Cup after Shaun Rooney’s header earned a 1-0 victory over Livingston at Hampden Park.
In a final devoid of any real quality, it was a header from a corner which earned Saints the spoils and their second ever trophy – their other being the 2014 Scottish Cup.
Managers Callum Davidson and David Martindale both started the game looking to bring home silverware in their debut campaigns, with the showpiece match the first Celtic haven’t contested in five years. With two fresh faces taking part, it was Livingston who had the first real chance of the game.
A long ball dropped to Josh Mullin, who nipped in front of an opposing defender before sending a strong effort towards the far corner. Goalkeeper Zander Clark was on hand to produce a fine fingertip save and send the ball round the post.
Not long afterwards, St Johnstone scored the goal which would end the game as the winner. Craig Conway sent in a corner won by Rooney himself, with the 24-year-old holding off John Guthrie before powering a header goalwards. Robby McCrorie managed to get a hand to the ball, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Rooney writing his way into the headlines.
Livingston were nearly dealt an injury blow on the stroke of half-time when Efe Ambrose was hacked down by David Wotherspoon, but the Nigerian was able to continue after treatment.
Martindale had made pre-game defensive changes to his lineup in an apparent attempt to limit Rooney’s impact on the match, but they severely hampered Livingston’s chances at mounting a second half comeback. Instead, it was St Johnstone who looked the more likely to add to their tally.
McCrorie was forced into a fine save before Wotherspoon went down in the Livingston box, and was lucky to escape without a yellow card for simulation.
Davidson’s side were comfortable for the remainder of the match, with Martindale unable to inspire a revival despite a number of substitutions. The honeymoon phase he embarked on now looks to be well and truly over, with Livingston winless in their last four. This final defeat will hurt the most.
For Davidson, delivering a trophy in the first season of his coaching career will both etch him into St Johnstone history and enhance his managerial profile. While no doubt disappointed at being unable to attend such a historic day, Saints fans will bask in this glory for a long time.
St Johnstone now return to Premiership duties against Hamilton Accies, while things don’t get any easier for Livingston as they host Rangers.