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Martindale admits Stryjek was 'lucky' to escape red card at Aberdeen

The club accepted a retrospective two-game ban for the goalkeeper.

Martindale admits Stryjek was ‘lucky’ to escape red card at Aberdeen SNS Group

Livingston boss David Martindale has admitted his side got lucky when Max Stryjek escaped a red card at Aberdeen, but said he would rather have had that fortune earlier in the season.

The club accepted a retrospective two game ban for the goalkeeper who was charged after striking Aberdeen forward Vicente Besuijen on the face on Saturday.

Referee Grant Irvine booked both players for the first half incident.

Martindale watched the 2-1 victory from home after being treated in hospital for kidney stones, and he was relieved the decision went Livingston’s way.

He said: “I think that was when I turned round and Georgia (his daughter) was away, Martha, my wife, was away, and my dog ran away to another room!

“I think we were very, very fortunate. But, in saying so, my view was the opposite view from the referee and the linesman, because the linesman was looking behind Besuijen and it’s difficult for him to see Max’s right hand.

“I don’t think Max meant to hit the boy, but I think he’s overplayed the situation.  Stupid, stupid from Max, he’s got caught up in the situation.

“I can see why it wasn’t a red at the time but from me sitting in the house, with the view I had, I was delighted it wasn’t a red because, in my opinion, we could have been a man down, a penalty and potentially 1 nil down in that game.

“I’ve seen a few comments saying ‘How lucky was that?’ Do you know what? I would rather have had that luck before Matchday 33 and I’m sitting in the top six rather than Matchday 34 and I’m out of the top six.”

The ban for Stryjek means Russian goalkeeper Ivan Konovalov will be handed his chance against Hibernian this weekend.

The 27-year-old, signed from Rubin Kazan in January, has had to wait to make his debut.

“I needed a number one/ number two that was going to push Max.

“I was sitting with my best friend (Gary Maley), 39 years old who played junior football with me, as the second goalie.

“I’ve had a huge amount of interest in Max. There are three or four clubs down south that have shown major interest in Max so I knew there was a very good chance that I wasn’t going to have him in the summer.

“I knew I had to cast my net far and wide and try and bring in a goalie that, first and foremost, is looking to play in the top tier, and secondly is looking for that exposure in a market that potentially could lead to a bigger and better club in England or Scotland or Europe.

“Ivan ticked all those boxes. Having Max in the building allowed Ivan that adaptation period where he wasn’t just getting thrown into games and told to adapt to Scottish football.

“I know Max has got his two game ban, but to perfectly honest with you, whether he had the two game ban, three game ban or no ban, Ivan was starting on Saturday because I don’t think Max will be here next season and I need to get Ivan as much game time and game experience as possible.”

Konovalov has had to leave behind his wife and two year old daughter in Russia as they wait for a visa.

He said: “I’m not political and I don’t understand what is happening (between Russia and Ukraine). The only problem for me is I don’t see my family in Russia.

“Every day I stay in contact because I have a small daughter.

“For me, the only problem is I don’t see my wife and daughter and my parents because flights don’t go from Europe to Russia. I would need to go to Turkey first. After the last day of the season I will go home.

“My wife and daughter are awaiting a visa for the UK, they have been waiting for two months. It is so hard because the UK embassy in Russia is not open every day.

“It will not stop them getting a visa, I hope they will be here next season. I have a contract for two years.

“It is so hard because my daughter is two and I only see her on FaceTime. But I am a professional football player and I understand it’s my work. On the pitch I only think about football.”