League Cup final: Goodwin relieved to join ‘legends’
JIM Goodwin smiled as he revealed how referee Craig Thomson told him to “just go away and stop bothering me” in the frantic last few minutes of the Scottish Communities League Cup final.
The St Mirren skipper was constantly asking Thomson how many minutes were left, as the prospect of the Buddies first League Cup final win became ever more real.
Hearts midfielder Ryan Stevenson’s second goal of the afternoon after 84 minutes, though, had meant things became a lot more anxious for the Paisley team, who had led 3-1 from the 65th minute.
“The first half flew in but the end was so nervy it dragged on,” said Goodwin. “I kept asking the referee how long was left and eventually he told me to just go away. I was so desperate for him to blow the whistle. The last five minutes felt like 15.”
Goodwin saluted the spirit of his team, who recovered from the loss of a goal after just ten minutes. “Many teams would have crumbled but we didn’t,” he said. “We didn’t turn up in the first half but we were fantastic after the equaliser.”
The 31 year-old Irishman savoured the moment afterwards. After a long career, playing for the likes of Stockport County, Huddersfield Town and Hamilton Accies, he relished the opportunity to do something that he never felt he would have the chance to experience, which is hoist a major trophy towards many thousands of delirious fans.
“I have watched so many football legends walk up those stairs and lift a cup aloft,” he said. “I’ve dreamt of following in their footsteps and now I have achieved what has been a lifelong goal. To lead a team full of great boys to victory, in front of all those St Mirren fans, including my wife and my family, who are all over from Ireland, is an amazing feeling.
“It’s fantastic but it’s all about the team and Paisley as a community,” he added.
“What we lack in fanbase and budget we compensate for in spirit. I’m delighted we’ve repaid everyone associated with the club, and who have waited a long time for this day.”
St Mirren: How they rated
• Craig Samson: Beaten twice, but also pulled off a number of important saves, including right at the death as Hearts fought to force the game into extra time. 7/10
• David Van Zanten: Solid in defence after a shaky start, the full-back was only rarely put under real pressure. 7
• Mark McAusland: Found his feet after looking all at sea in the opening half-hour, and worked with his captain at the heart of defence. 7
• Jim Goodwin: The captain’s attempted clearance inadvertently found Stevenson for the opening goal of the game, but he played a more positive part thereafter as his team came back. 8
• Paul Dummett: Stevenson’s goal found the net via the back of his leg after the left-back had failed to usher the Hearts player wide, but after that he looked more steady. 6
• Gary Teale: Broke free of Kevin McHattie to set up Goncalves’ goal, and often troubled the Hearts defence with his pace. 7
• John McGinn: Had some impressive runs up the left in the second half after hardly featuring in the first. 6
• Conor Newton: Had hardly been noticed in the game when his one-two with Goncalves ended with him blasting home his team’s third goal – his first for the club. 7
• Paul McGowan: His team’s most technically gifted player had the first attempt on goal of the game with an early chip, and was an important influence in their fightback. Was voted the man of the match. 9
• Esmael Goncalves: A handful at times for Dylan McGowan, he shot calmly into the empty net for his team’s equaliser after ensuring he stayed onside. 7
• Steven Thompson: The Paisley team’s lone striker pulled free of his marker to put his team in the lead 44 seconds after the restart, and also helped out to good effect in defence when needed. 8
Hearts: How they rated
• Jamie MacDonald: Left exposed by his defence at times and could hardly have done more to keep his team in the match. 6/10
• Dylan McGowan: Passed a fitness test to play at right-back and had some important interventions to break down opposition attacks. 6
• Andy Webster: The Hearts captain looked unruffled as always, but was caught flatfooted at times as St Mirren seized hold of the contest in the second-half. 6
• Danny Wilson: Like centre-half partner Webster, the on-loan defender was controlled at times but almost seemed too calm at others. 6
• Kevin McHattie: Exposed for lack of pace at times, and did better going forward than defending. First-half free-kick from right almost sneaked in at far post before Samson blocked it. 6
• Ryan Stevenson: Showed drive and determination throughout, opening the scoring after ten minutes, hitting the bar in the closing stages and then scoring the second. Hearts’ most impressive performer by some way. 8
• Darren Barr: Had to work hard to get a grip on midfield, and looked overrun at times in the second-half as St Mirren gained the ascendancy. 6
• Mehdi Taouil: A crucial influence in the first half-hour as Hearts bossed the game, the midfield playmaker was unable to spark a fightback after they had gone two goals down. 7
• Jamie Walker: Crossed for Sutton header that came back off the post in the first- half, and shot wide himself early in the second. Made way for Novikovas with more than 25 minutes to play after running out of steam. 6
• John Sutton: The striker headed off the back post from a Walker cross, but faded the longer the game went on. 6
• Michael Ngoo: The big striker played a vital part in build-up to first goal, and had several chances to get on the score sheet himself, but sometimes tripped over his own feet. 6
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