It would have been rude not to take in a match while in Scotland, so I ended up in Livingston.
When I booked my trip to Edinburgh, there were no games scheduled as the top flight games were all post-split determined by League position, while the Lower League games would be all Promotion/Relegation Play-Offs.
I did hope that Hearts would be at home as I hadn’t been to Tynecastle since 2015, so i’d have been hoping for a long awaited return to Tynecastle.
That would not be an option, but Hearts would be an option for me.
This is what my options were:
Celtic v Hearts (Why are you laughing? I was planning a day trip to Glasgow during the trip), Hibs v Aberdeen, Rangers v Dundee United or Dunfermline Athletic v Queen’s Park.
Or, I could have went in a totally different direction to see Edinburgh v Wasps in Rugby, it was the equivalent of a UEFA Cup Quarter-Final.
There was a potential for an Edinburgh v Glasgow Semi-Final. I know, two Glasgow teams in European Finals three days apart. They both lost their Quarter-Finals though.
That was just in Scotland.
I had two other cities on my shortlist for this weekend away. Brighton, to try and blag a ticket for Brighton v United. In retrospect, it was a good idea not to go to Brighton.
Tallinn was also under consideration. The matches over this weekend I would have been there was Tallinna Kalev v Levadia Tallinn, Legion v Narva Trans, Nomme Kaliju v Tammeka and Flora Tallinn v Paide.
Yeah, I had to use Google and Wikipedia for that last paragraph.
In the end, I plumped for Livingston v St Johnstone, as this was a game that had something riding on it.
There were other factors in the decision as well. One was that I had never been to Livingston, and I love visiting new grounds. It was also easy to get to and easy to get a ticket.
I travelled by bus, a very scenic ride which left me at a shopping centre right beside the ground, very easy to find.
After a spot of lunch,, I headed to the ground.
You may have watched Livingston play Rangers or Celtic at home and wondered where their fans are.
I can verify that Livingston have fans, they just like to keep them hidden, hosting them in the stand along the side of the pitch where the TV cameras are, with the away fans on the stand at the side of the pitch on the other side.
Except of course, when they play Rangers or Celtic, who get both stands behind the goal as well.
This wouldn’t be my first time seeing St Johnstone play, but it would be the first time in a while, having last seen them play Linfield in a Pre-Season Friendly in the 1990s. 1997, I think.
There would be a familiar face on the touchline, with former Linfield goalkeeper Paul Mathers now Goalkeeper Coach at St Johnstone. At one point, he was one of three former Linfield goalkeepers at the club (Alan Mannus and Tommy Wright the others, since you ask)
St Johnstone made a quick start to the game, with Callum Hendry firing over from a cross inside the first minute.
Livingston’s best moment came in the second-half when Odin Bailey got in behind St Johnstone’s defence, but his low shot was saved by the legs of St Johnstone’s keeper.
This was a game lacking in any attacking quality. It was hard to see where a goal was coming from. It wasn’t for a lack of effort though.
Just as it looked like I would be signing off my football watching season with a 0-0 draw, the deadlock was broken.
It was the first real moment of attacking quality from St Johnston, when James Brown made space for himself and crossed perfectly for Glenn Middleton to head home from close range.
Livingston’s keeper actually made a good save. The problem was, he was well behind the line when he did so.
It was a vital goal for St Johnstone. As it stood, they were relegating Dundee and dragging Aberdeen into the mix for the Relegation Play-Off spot that they occupied.
A lead that St Johnstone held on for dear life, and it looked like they were going to leave Almondvale with three points.
Having seen St Johnston score with their only moment of attacking quality, Livingston thought they might as well do the same.
A cross from Jason Holt was headed goalwards, but St Johnstone’s keeper could only parry it to Jack Fitzwater, who finished like Fritz Walter to make it 1-1 as injury time approached.
Not sure how I managed to get in a 1950s West German football reference there.
Thankfully, it wasn’t “Fritz Walter Weather”.
Amazingly, in the time that remained, St Johnstone had a chance to win the game, clean through with only the keeper to beat, but it was missed.
You expected him to score but you just knew he was going to miss. It was just the way the game had gone.
It was a point that virtually avoided automatic relegation for St Johnstone, but it felt like two points dropped and an opportunity missed to drag Aberdeen into contention for a Play-Off spot.
St Johnstone would send Dundee down in the next matchday, but they would still need to beat Inverness over two legs to be absolutely sure, a year after winning the cup double.
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