Kyle McAllister’s timing could not have been better. Just a day after returning to St Mirren on loan, and with just three minutes remaining of a compelling, topsy-turvy Scottish Cup tie, the winger jigged in off the right touchline before unleashing a shot with such precision that it broke Alloa Athletic hearts.
From being five minutes away from landing one of the shocks of the round, the Championship side instead found themselves dumped out of the competition.
St Mirren will take all the breaks they can get right now but can perhaps consider themselves fortunate. Deservedly two goals behind and playing with just 10 men after debutant Brad Lyons was sent off, there had looked little sign of the stirring comeback that was soon to unfold.
Cody Cooke, however, was sufficiently diligent to follow in Simeon Jackson’s shot and reaped his reward when goalkeeper Neil Parry spilled it into the striker’s path. That goal belatedly ignited the fire in St Mirren bellies but salvation arrived late. With time ticking away, Ethan Erhahon drew them level following an assist from Stephen McGinn, before McAllister timed his shot perfectly to produce the winner.
“I have been in cup competitions long enough that I would have taken 2-2 and then dealt with the replay,” said Kearney. “But it was a grandstand finish from us. The new players don’t have the scars from the past and we have a [strong] mentality there now.
“Kyle has had a tough few years since leaving St Mirren with injuries but he has character. What an end to a lovely week for him because he is a St Mirren fan so to come on and do that was quite special.”
McAllister’s late intervention denied Jim Goodwin the perfect homecoming. The former St Mirren cup-winning captain had looked set for a famous victory after first-half goals from Alan Trouten and Kevin Cawley – either side of Lyons’ red card for simulation – only for his changes at half-time to have an unsettling effect on his players. The manager held his hands up and took responsibility for the loss.
“I’ve enjoyed a lot of plaudits in the last two or three months but today I need to take responsibility for that second half,” said the Irishman. “Full credit to St Mirren for not throwing in the towel but it’s going to take me a few days to get over this one.”