St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson hopes the Betfred Cup can have another positive effect on their league season after his side reached the final with a 3-0 win over Hibernian.
Saints produced their biggest win against top-flight opposition since November 2018 as headers from Jason Kerr and Shaun Rooney and a Craig Conway strike propelled them into their third League Cup final.
The group stages of the competition provided a much-needed chance to boost Saints’ confidence and it did so.
The Perth side had lost four games in a row and only scored once in seven matches before beating Kelty Hearts 2-1 in their opening game, and thrashed Brechin 7-0 days later. That was the start of an 11-game unbeaten run and they put five goals past Hamilton in their subsequent Scottish Premiership game.
They are now five games unbeaten after dispatching Hibs and Davidson wants his team to take confidence from their ultimately comfortable triumph by continuing that run ahead of the final on February 28.
“It put us on a good run beforehand when we played the cup competition at the start of the season,” Davidson said.
“So I hope the players have belief that they are a good team, that they believe in themselves and each other. Because I certainly do.
“Hopefully we can start a little run. We are four unbeaten in the league now so make sure we carry on and win games of football.
“The way we performed for 60 minutes, it has got to give them a lot of confidence.
“We were shaky to start but once they settled down, you saw how well they played, on a big occasion. I know the supporters weren’t here but it’s a big occasion to get to a final, especially for a club like St Johnstone. Hopefully they can use that to go and try and win it.”
The occasion can be a major moment in the careers of some of Davidson’s younger players, especially Rooney, who was named man of the match after heading home the second and crossing for Conway to net.
The 24-year-old played second fiddle to Danny McNamara at the start of the season and had to rely on the Betfred Cup for four of his first five starts following his summer move from Inverness.
But he got into the team in central defence and appears to be revelling in a more natural wing-back role following McNamara’s departure while showing his threat at set-pieces.
“Shaun has been excellent at right centre-half and he showed his versatility playing at wing-back,” Davidson said.
“His energy levels are tremendous and he is great in both boxes, which does help as well.
“It’s a vital part of the game which we probably haven’t been as good at this season. It’s something we have looked at.
“When you have got the likes of Shaun, Muzz (Murray Davidson) and Jason Kerr in there, and Jamie McCart and Liam Gordon with them, it’s a good attacking threat.
“Becoming a good team in both boxes is something we need to get better at.”