St Mirren lifted their first major cup title for 25 years after an impressive turnaround saw the Buddies defeat Hearts 3-2 in a thrilling League Cup final at Hampden.
Goals from Esmael Goncalves, Steven Thompson and Conor Newton cancelled out Ryan Stevenson’s double for Hearts, completing a remarkable cup run for Danny Lennon’s side.
Having been named permanent Hearts manager on Saturday Gary Locke named a particularly physical frontline, selecting on loan Liverpool striker Michael Ngoo to play alongside John Sutton.
Lennon opted for a line-up that appeared reminiscent of the team that had defeated Celtic in the semi-final, with Goncalves and Thompson deployed as a mobile front two, backed up by Paul McGowan.
With St Mirren searching for their first major cup win since 1987 and Hearts aiming to claim the Scottish League Cup for the first time since 1962 the stakes were high for both sides at Hampden, but it was Hearts who started the better of the two.
The Jambos’ high pressing game was causing the Buddies problems and it bore fruit when Ngoo charged down a St Mirren clearance, affording Stevenson the space and time to twist and turn before firing past Craig Samson.
The opening goal only seemed to inspire Hearts further, who went close through Mehdi Taouil and Ngoo. It appeared Locke’s side were on course to lift a second cup title in less than a year.
However, with half time approaching St Mirren found a leveller against the run of play when Thompson released Gary Teale down the right wing before squaring for Goncalves to finish into the empty net.
And the Saints turnaround resumed after the break when Thompson got on the end of a low cross into the box to stab high into the net.
Hearts appeared shell-shocked as they tried to rediscover the game that had seen them look so dominant in the first half, but instead they fell further behind when Newton fired past Jamie McDonald following a give and go with Goncalves to give St Mirren a two-goal lead.
With 20 minutes remaining Locke replaced Darren Barr with Jason Holt in an attempt to retain the ball further up the pitch, with a deflected Kevin McHattie shot forcing Samson into an impressive reflex save.
Stevenson gave the Tynecastle side hope with five minutes of regular time to play, placing a shot into the net from a tight angle, before hitting the upright with an effort from an even tighter angle.
But St Mirren held on to put their name on the Scottish League Cup trophy following a truly enthralling match at the national stadium.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Steven Thompson (St Mirren) - Boyhood St Mirren fan Thompson provided an effective outlet for his teammates, not only relieving pressure but creating opportunities and of course getting on the scoresheet.
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- Steven Thompson