St Mirren 3 - 2 Hearts

Match info: Scottish League Cup at St Mirren Park

Date: 17/03/2013 KO: 15:00 Ref: Craig Thomson

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers

St Mirren

Esmael Goncalves 37
Steven Thompson 46
Conor Newton 66

3
vs
2

Hearts

Ryan Stevenson 10,85

FT (ht: 1-1)

  • Last Updated: March 17 2013, 20:36 GMT

Danny Lennon admits he gave the half-time team talk of his life to cajole St Mirren into capturing the Scottish Communities League Cup for the first time in their history with a dramatic 3-2 win over Hearts at Hampden.

Lennon salutes cup heroes

The Paisley side froze in the early stages and were lucky only to be trailing by Ryan Stevenson's 10th minute opener before Esmael Goncalves scored out of the blue in the 37th minute to take the teams into the interval level.

The Buddies boss set about his players at the break and they responded magnificently.

Steven Thompson converted a Paul Dummett cross a minute into the second-half before Conor Newton drove in number three and although Stevenson reduced the deficit with six minutes remaining to ensure a nervy ending, the Paisley side held out to win the club's first major trophy since 1987.

Asked whether at the interval he gave the team talk of his life, Lennon had no doubt.

"Yes. I got into the players at half-time and reminded them that if they wanted to become legends there was a game of football to be played," he said.

"Our problem in the first-half was that we didn't pass the ball.

"Hearts came out the traps well, they were one-up, they had the better opportunities and probably the only opportunity we had, we took it.

"That would have deflated them a little bit and gave us a lift but it was not the lift that got us started, that came when we got them in at the break.

"There was a little bit of emotion, there were raised voices, some comforting words but more importantly, I reminded them that these opportunities don't come very often.

"Some players will play their full career and never get the opportunity to play in a national final in the national stadium.

"And the reality is that for some of these players it might be their last, so my message to them was make sure that it was a day that they could remember for the rest of their lives and to be fair they gave us and everyone associated with our wonderful football club a memory to cherish for the rest of our lives."

Lennon took a moment to savour the scenes when Newton grabbed the third although he admitted the final tense minutes when Hearts were pushing for an equaliser left him drained.

"I was taking it in," he said. "I hope it is the first of many, but I may not get to another cup final.

"I always said I would enjoy every goal if I got to a final and I wanted to enjoy it with the fans.

"I loved it, that is why you come into this game and there is no amount of alcohol will get me higher tonight than I am at this moment in time. I am on cloud nine.

"I am very proud, very emotional and absolutely thrilled that we are bringing the trophy back to Paisley for the first time in this club's wonderful 135-year history.

"I am also thrilled for the board. They had belief in me and gave me the great opportunity to serve this club and I am delighted that my staff and players could deliver the cup.

"We have waited a long 26 years for this piece of silverware so we are delighted but at the end I was kicking every ball, winning every header and every tackle - I have never won so many headers in my life."

Lennon was especially pleased for his 34-year-old Paisley-born striker Thompson, who had admitted "visualising" a glory day in the lead-up to the final.

"It is Roy of the Rovers stuff for him," he said.

"Before we came out for the second-half I said to him, 'it is written for you, you are living your boyhood dream'.

"It was a wonderful finish from him. I thought Conor Newton's goal was a wonderful bit of football but Stevie is a top player, he has had a wonderful career and we are getting the best out of him on a weekly basis."

Gary Locke, who was made permanent Hearts manager on Friday after being caretaker in the wake of John McGlynn's departure, bemoaned his side's sloppy start to the second-half.

"It is a sore one to take," he said. "Myself, the staff and the players are really hurting.

"I felt that if we could get the second goal we probably would have gone on to win it.

"We had a few chances and hit the woodwork two or three times but it wasn't meant to be.

"Full credit to the players they never gave up and that is the type of commitment and desire that is required but we shot ourselves in the foot by the way we started the second-half.

"I was disappointed with the first 10 minutes of the second-half because we just didn't get going at all and that cost us. That was the turning point of the game."

Meanwhile St Mirren midfielder Paul McGowan believes the players did the club proud by ending a 26-year wait for a trophy.

McGowan told BBC Scotland: "It's unbelievable.

"I'm so proud of every one of the players and it's a great day. We truly deserved it.

"It's been coming for St Mirren, they're a great club with great fans and it's been a great day.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try and win a cup here and we've done it and made every one of the fans and our families proud. I can't ask for any more."

Former Rangers and Burnley forward Thompson relived the moment he beat Hearts goalkeeper Jamie McDonald to give his side a lead they would never surrender.

"It's pretty much indescribable really," he said on BBC Scotland. "I've been dreaming about doing it ever since we beat Celtic and I won't lie, I've not had a lot of sleep.

"I made a near-post run and made sure I was really concentrating to make a good connection with the ball - you could probably see from my face that it was a dramatic moment.

"It's just an amazing feeling and in the next few days I'll realise what it means."

Of the fans, Thompson added: "I'm a supporter too and it's been a quarter of a century since we won a cup so it means everything to them.

"It's great to be part of the history of this football club and I'm bursting with pride."


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