A First Home Win Against the Lions - 2017

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Livingston, 20th February 2021)

In their first ever meeting in 1995, Livingston defeated St. Mirren at Almondvale in the second round of the League Challenge Cup. For the next 22 years, both clubs played out a remarkable series of fixtures in which the home side always failed to win. Away victories in the first two meetings of season 2017/18, one in the League Cup group stages and one in the Championship, extended the run to twelve games.

The sides were due to meet for the third time on league business at the Paisley 2021 Stadium on 11th November 2017, but the match was postponed due to Scotland U21 call-ups for Saints players Liam Smith, Kyle Magennis and Lewis Morgan. The fixture was rearranged for Tuesday, 28th November by which time Saints had been knocked off the top of the Championship by Dundee United and were looking to make their game in hand count against the team from West Lothian. A win for either team would put them top.

It began to look like the away team dominance in this fixture would continue when, on the half-hour mark, Craig Samson failed to hold a Josh Mullin shot and Dale Carrick pounced on the rebound to give Livingston the lead, which they held until the interval.

Adam Eckersley nets St. Mirren second goal

Adam Eckersley nets St. Mirren's second goal

However, Saints came roaring back in the second half. On 51 minutes, Lewis Morgan played a one-two at a short corner with Liam Smith. He drove into the penalty box and unleashed a left foot shot which Neil Alexander couldn’t keep out and the scores were level. Fifteen minutes later, Morgan set up Adam Eckersley to burst through from the left and his shot ended up in the net via a Livingston defender and goalkeeper Alexander to put the Buddies ahead. The points were secured in the 76th minute when a St. Mirren free-kick close to the corner flag on the right was floated into the box and, in the melee, Jack Baird was pushed to the ground. Ian McShane stepped up to net the resultant spot kick, sending Alexander the wrong way.

St. Mirren v Livingston  2017

St. Mirren v Livingston 2017

The 3-1 final score gave St. Mirren their first-ever home win over Livingston and put them two points above Dundee United at the top of the Championship, a position they were to maintain for the remainder of the season.

The 48-page full colour match programme was entitled “The Saint PA3 1RU” (reflecting the postcode of the stadium) and featured Dale Hilson on the cover. After the obligatory Club Directory and contents, “The Gaffer” presented Jack Ross’s views on the previous month’s league matches against Morton, Dundee United and Inverness, and the Scottish Cup win over non-league Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale. He acknowledged Livingston’s challenge in the evening's fixture and showed his appreciation for the fans’ patience during recent matches.

Following the “Buddies News Update” page, “Last Time Out” gave a detailed account of the 7-1 win in the Scottish Cup-tie in text, pictures and stats. There were two pages on the visitors, featuring photos of their key players, and “From the Archives” looked back at a 1-1 draw between the sides from 2015. The subject of “Hall of Fame” was former striker Mark Yardley and this preceded an interview with current striker Cammy Smith. The centre spread photo featured full back Stelios Demetriou.

The second half of the programme provided news from the St. Mirren Supporters Trust and “Fans Corner”, along with the necessary Player Kit Sponsorship pages, Marketing Matters and season stats. In amongst the adverts, the highlight was Alan Gallacher’s “Football Bloody Hell’, in which he related his personal experience of visits to the Nou Camp and Bernabeu stadia in Spain. The programme closed with the usual listing of the two playing squads, managers and match officials.