Viaplay Cup: Steven MacLean launches furious St Johnstone tirade after shock loss, Livingston and Kilmarnock get through

St Johnstone boss Steven MacLean was far from impressed by his team's performance against Stirling Albion.St Johnstone boss Steven MacLean was far from impressed by his team's performance against Stirling Albion.
St Johnstone boss Steven MacLean was far from impressed by his team's performance against Stirling Albion.
Top-flight sides Livingston, Ross County, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and St Mirren and Championship outfits Ayr, Partick Thistle and Airdrie all booked their places in the second round of the Viaplay Cup in a dramatic group-stage finale.

The eight group winners were all guaranteed to progress through to the knockout stages, along with the three best-placed runners-up.

Ayr were 6-0 winners over Alloa to win Group A on 11 points but cinch Premiership side St Johnstone, already out, suffered a stunning 4-0 home defeat to Stirling Albion, who claimed one of the three best runners-up slots.

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“I take full responsibility, it’s my team,” said Saints manager Steven MacLean. “The stick lies with me and I am all in for them. I will give them everything I’ve got and I expect the same in return. I don’t think I’ve had everything in return from them. I need a reaction. We’ve had a chat about it, they know my feelings. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

“There’s a lot at the root of it. We had enough good players there to go and win the game. It’s simply not good enough. We lost poor goals and we don’t do enough to score. We were poor all round - poor passing, poor energy levels and poor commitment. I think I know who’s ready and who’s not. And I think I know who’s good enough and who is not.

Partick Thistle beat the Spartans 2-1 to win Group B with nine points, with Falkirk winning 4-1 at home to Peterhead.

Livingston’s 1-0 home win over Clyde left them top of Group C with 10 points. Hamilton – who needed a win to usurp Livi – drew 2-2 with Cove Rangers, with the Aberdeenshire side winning the bonus point in the penalty shoot-out.

In Group D, Ross County lost the penalty shoot-out and bonus point to Kelty Hearts following a 3-3 draw, but the Staggies remained top of the section with 10 points with Morton finishing second on nine points following a 4-1 win over Edinburgh City – their goal difference of plus seven taking them through as a best runner-up.

Airdrie emerged from their trip to Bonnyrigg Rose with a 1-0 victory which gave them an impressive 12 points from 12 in Group E, while Kilmarnock battled to a 2-1 win over Albion Rovers to clinch Group F with 10 points, with Raith Rovers finishing on nine with a 3-2 success at Annan Athletic.

Motherwell’s 3-0 win over East Fife at Fir Park saw them win Group G with 11 points. Queen’s Park were beaten 2-1 at home by Queen of the South. St Mirren beat Forfar 4-0 in Paisley to leapfrog the visitors to the top of Group H on goal difference, with both sides on nine points. Arbroath beat Montrose 3-0 in the other tie.

The three group winners with the best records – Airdrie, Ayr and Motherwell – will join European qualifiers Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs as seeded teams for Sunday’s draw.

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Dundee can go on to nine points with a Group E home win over Inverness on Sunday and if they overcome Raith Rovers’ goal difference of plus three – the Dens Park men are on plus two – they will take the third best runner-up spot.