Livingston boss David Martindale has hailed the influence of Andrew Shinnie after admitting he was forced to rectify a managerial mistake in his side’s Premier Sports Cup triumph over St Mirren.
Shinnie was a late replacement for the Lions when he was introduced for debutant Harrison Panayiotou with just 12 minutes left in regulation time.
Panayiotou, signed from National League side Aldershot just 48 hours before kick-off, had himself been a second-half substitute but was replaced after 11 minutes.
It was a peculiar moment in a match that was eventually decided by the heroics of Livingston goalkeeper Max Stryjek in a dramatic penalty shootout.
However, Martindale was quick afterwards to accentuate the positives of Shinnie’s introduction and has confessed he was to blame for an error in judgement in not bringing the former Inverness and Birmingham player on sooner.
He said: “It was nothing really to do with Harrison. I have to take that on the chin, I made the wrong substitution.
“I threw the boy in at the deep end slightly when I should have put on Andrew Shinnie.
“I think you could see that when we put Shinnie on the park that we started to control the ball a little bit more. He’s a very, very clever player.
“He is one of those players you bring into the club and you don’t have to coach him too much.
“You can give him bits of information but he goes out and plays his natural game, whereas at Livingston you’re bringing in boys on £700 or £800 a week and there’s a lot of coaching there to get them up to the standards of the Premiership.
“We’ve been able to spend a bit more on Andrew for those reasons, because he brings a bit more quality to the final third.”
Alan Forrest put last season’s beaten finalists ahead but their attempts to defend the slender lead backfired when substitute Conor McCarthy bundled in the leveller for St Mirren eight minutes from time.
Penalties seemed inevitable in an energy-sapping extra-time but Livingston were convinced they had snatched victory, only for the officials to rule that Nicky Devlin’s close-range shot had not crossed the line.
It left the stage set for Stryjek, whose stoppage-time error seven days previously had cost the Lions a point in their 2-1 defeat to Aberdeen, and he redeemed himself with heroics in the spot-kicks.
St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin said: “It looked as if the tempo of the game and the intensity of the game took its toll on quite a few of the players, Livingston’s and ourselves.
“By the end of extra-time, we were quite happy to take it to penalties.
“We just need to dust ourselves down and go again next week – a nice easy one away to Celtic!”