LIVINGSTON boss David Hopkin says he is “running out of superlatives” for his players after they came from behind to beat Partick Thistle in the first leg of the Scottish Premiership play-off final.
The Championship side were the better team at the Tony Macaroni Arena but went behind early on after Kris Doolan’s header.
However they continued to show why they had surprised everybody in the Championship with a typically powerful performance, getting stronger as the game went on to eventually win 2-1 and set themselves up for the second leg at Firhill on Sunday where they will be just 90 minutes from the Premiership.
“I asked the players to make sure they were in the tie on Sunday and they came up trumps,” said Hopkin, who led the side to promotion from the third tier last season.
“I am running out of superlatives for them because they keep running and never know when they are beaten.
“I was thinking ‘I’d be happy with this’ at 1-1 but they went again and scored a fantastic goal, so great credit to them.”
The short turnaround will be of concern to Hopkin after seeing his squad leave everything out on the pitch.
But he is confident they have enough in the tank to get the job done after goals from Keaghan Jacobs and Scott Pittman gave them the advantage.
He said: “They are knackered but I know they will go again. I am delighted and really proud of the players.”
Thistle boss Alan Archibald was left scratching his head at the Jags’ performance, in which they never adapted to the physical threat posed by Livi.
The hosts forced the Premiership side into playing them at their own game, and Archibald admits it was not something he had planned on.
He said: “We didn’t pass the ball at all. We got drawn into playing long balls onto their three centre halves and that wasn’t the plan of playing two strikers.
“We couldn’t get our creative players on the ball.”
He added: “Livingston are a good team and are good at what they do. We have to make sure we pass the ball a bit better and at the right times.
“Yes you have to do the combative stuff as well, which we did at the right times but we just never passed it.”