ST MIRREN staged a second-half fightback to stave off a potential Petrofac Training Cup upset at Galabank last night.
The Paisley side, who have lost their first two Championship games, looked to be in trouble when they trailed League 2 side Annan at the interval. However, goals after the break by Jordan Stewart and Alan Gow ensured Ian Murray’s side made it to the last eight and gained a much-needed morale boost ahead of Friday’s Renfrewshire derby at Morton.
Despite a difficult start to the season, the St Mirren manager took the opportunity to field some of his fringe men. In total, there were seven changes to the side that lost 2-1 to Dumbarton on Saturday, with right-back Jason Naismith among those to drop out after learning yesterday morning that he will be out for six months with knee ligament damage.
Goalkeeper Jamie Langfield, who joined from Aberdeen last week, came in to make his debut and, remarkably, the veteran’s first task was to pick the ball out of the net after Annan raced into a shock lead. With just 16 seconds on the clock, Jim Goodwin was judged to have fouled Josh Todd in the box and a penalty was awarded. Former Morton striker Peter Weatherson made no mistake in firing the underdogs ahead from the spot.
The League 2 side were more than holding their own against their full-time opponents and they almost doubled their lead in the 28th minute when Todd pinged a 25-yard shot towards the top corner but Langfield did superbly to claw it away for a corner.
Saints threatened in the 39th minute but Gow’s strike from just outside the box was palmed away by Jordan Hart, and a minute later the goalkeeper had to tip over a Calum Gallagher header. Annan started the second half on the front foot, with Todd seeing a shot from 18 yards out clawed over by Langfield before Rabin Omar fired a low 30-yarder just past.
However, St Mirren drew level in the 51st minute when left-back Stewart arrived to rifle in a superb low shot after Barry Cuddihy’s cross from the right was headed out to him on the edge of the box.
Langfield had to make a vital save to stop Weatherson bundling in a Martin McNiff cross in the 59th minute. It was to prove a pivotal moment as St Mirren edged ahead seven minutes later when Gallagher burst down the right and into the box before cutting the ball back for Gow to fire a low angled shot beyond Hart from eight yards out.
Annan: Hart, Black, Swinglehurst, McNiff, McColm (McDonald 82), Sloan, Omar, Flynn (Watson 82), Weatherson, Todd, Osadolor. Subs not used: Currie, Wadge, McStay, Norman, Park.
St Mirren: Langfield, Kelly, Goodwin, Gow, Howieson (Morgan 90), Mallan (Agnew 84), Baird, McLear (McMullan 67), Cuddihy, Gallagher, Stewart. Subs not used: Ridgers, Conlan, Carswell, Barrowman.
Referee: Don Robertson.