Scottish League Cup: St Johnstone lose opener as Hearts, Livingston and Ross County win

Hearts' Craig Halkett scores
Craig Halkett scored on his Hearts debut in a win over Cowdenbeath

St Johnstone opened their season with a shock defeat away to Montrose in the Scottish League Cup group stage as Scottish Premiership rivals Hearts, Livingston and Ross County all won.

There were blows too for Championship sides Queen of the South and Alloa Athletic as they were held at home by League Two outfits Annan Athletic and Elgin City respectively.

Terry Masson scored the only goal for League One side Montrose, while County thumped Brechin City 4-0 to record their second win in a row in Group B.

Hearts eased aside hosts Cowdenbeath to stay top Group A ahead of Dundee United, who also won away to another League Two side, Stenhousemuir.

Livingston edged out Championship side Ayr United to go top of Group G, while there was a penalty shoot-out won 11-10 by a goalkeeper.


Game of the evening

Having already been held to a draw away to League One side Falkirk on Saturday, Livingston again found the going tough against lower-league opposition.

They and Ayr both topped their groups last season and the Championship side arrived on a high after their 7-0 mauling of Berwick Rangers,

There was no place in Livi's match-day squad for Ibrahima Savane, the former Beziers left-back signed earlier in the day, but Aymen Souda made the most of his first start to fire the hosts into the lead - and the former Dunarea Calarasi midfielder was impressing the fans in Almondvale.

Souda tweet

Andy Murdoch stabbed home from close range to equalise shortly after the break, but the hosts, who also handed debuts to summer signings Nicky Devlin and Robbie Crawford, edged a close contest with Ricki Lamie's back-post finish with seven minutes remaining.

Biggest upset

Montrose, thumped 4-1 by County in Dingwall on Saturday, were only able to field five of the permitted seven substitutes and must have feared the worst against a top-flight side at near-enough full strength.

However, manager Stewart Petrie would have reminded his players that they only lost 1-0 at home to St Johnstone in last season's group stage and counterpart Tommy Wright had warned his side they faced another stiff test.

So it turned out in a tight affair in which the Perth side had most of the pressure but the hosts found the only goal, veteran midfielder Terry Masson with the clinical finish after 72 minutes.

Montrose tweet

Saints were runaway winners of their group last season but already find themselves six points behind County, although they do have a game in hand.

'Liqud football', debut goals and shoot-out drama

Former Livingston centre-half Craig Halkett scored on his Hearts debut, while teenage midfielder Anthony McDonald grabbed his first goal for the club as manager Craig Levein made a happy return to his former Cowdenbeath home.

But what on earth is "liquid football"?

Hearts tweet

Brechin manager Barry Smith had to come out of retirement to fill his side's bench on Saturday but wasn't needed this time after international clearance was received just in time for two new defenders - Christopher McLaughlin, formerly of Stirling Lions in Australia, and Luke Watt, previously of Novigrad in Croatia.

They couldn't prevent the hosts, who could still only fill four substitute slots, totting up seven goals against without reply in two games as a Ross Stewart double helped visitors Ross County ease to victory.

Greenock Morton got their season off to a flyer and veteran defender Brian McLean will have been pleased to have completed his switch the previous evening from visitors Dumbarton.

Brian McLean

Summer signings Peter Grant and Kyle Jacobs got among the goals, with coach John Sutton grabbing his first since being persuaded to come out of playing retirement, while birthday boy Bob McHugh completed a 6-1 drubbing for the visitors from across the River Clyde.

Stephen Dobbie was equal top scorer in the group stage last season and it looked like his influence was leading Queen of the South to an easy win over neighbours Annan.

The veteran striker set up Connor Murray for the opener, Scott Mercer added the second after Dobbie had a shot parried by the goalkeeper and the 36-year-old grabbed his first of the season after the visitors pulled one back through an own goal.

However, goals from Lewis McLear and Jordan Holt took the tie into penalty kicks, although Queens did manage to take the bonus point after a 5-4 win.

There was similar drama between Alloa and Elgin, with the League Two side coming out top 6-5 in the shootout after their 3-3 draw.

Alan Trouten was equal top scorer in the group stage two seasons ago and the midfielder found the net in his first competitive game of the season for a sixth successive year.

Former Falkirk striker Kevin O'Hara, signed just before kick-off, set up Kevin Cawley for what looked like the winner, but Stephen Bronsky secured a draw for Elgin after 90 minutes.

There was stalemate at Peterhead as they and visitors Inverness Caledonian Thistle fought out a 0-0 draw.

However, the sides still couldn't be separated deep into the penalty shoot-out until visiting goalkeeper Mark Ridgers' miss, which allowed Peterhead counterpart Greg Fleming to give the League One side the bonus point - 11-10 to the League One side.

Peterhead tweet

Declan McManus made an immediate impression for Falkirk, scoring the only goal of the game against Stranraer on his debut hours after the striker joined on loan from County.

Veteran former Scotland striker Kenny Miller scored his first goal since joining Partick Thistle from Dundee and, while Salim Kouider-Aissa notched his first goal since signing from Kilsyth Rangers, it was not enough to prevent Queen's Park losing the Glasgow derby 2-1.

What's next?

There's five more League Cup group games on Wednesday, with new Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley coming up against a Dundee side now led by James McPake, who he signed for the Dark Blues as a player in 2014.

Meanwhile, having signed from Morton, Arbroath goalkeeper Derek Gaston will be hoping to make his debut away to Stirling Albion despite being spotted with an unusual pre-match meal.

Gaston tweet