Alloa Athletic 2-2 Livingston

Livi were held to their first draw of the season as Alloa struck late to ensure a share of the spoils at the Indodrill Stadium to cut the Lions’ lead at the top of Ladbrokes League One by a point.

The Lions had ended their hosts’ 10-match winning streak on their last trip over the Clackmannanshire Bridge and were looking for their third win of the season over Jim Goodwin’s side after a pair of 3-1 successes so far. Unsurprisingly, David Hopkin went with the same side that comfortably saw off Brechin 3-0 at home the previous week.

The Wasps came into the match 11 points adrift of the Lions in the League One title race, meaning their need was far greater, and they made the far brighter start, forcing a half-chance inside two minutes when Alan Mackin found space in the box but his shot didn’t trouble Liam Kelly. They came close again two minutes later when Stefan McCluskey headed over the bar from close range.

The Lions stormed up the other end and passed up a huge chance to take the lead when Danny Mullen latched on to Shaun Byrne’s ball over the top to go clear but he could only shoot straight at ex-Lion Craig McDowall in the Alloa goal. Livi then had Kelly to thank for a fine save as he kept out Jordan Kirkpatrick’s header on nine minutes. Up the other end Mark Millar’s free kick was deflected through to McDowall.

Another big chance went begging for Livi on 12 minutes when Nicky Cadden did well down the left and his cross was flicked on by Mullen to the unmarked Sean Crighton but his first-time effort flew high over the bar. The deadlock was eventually broken on 25 minutes as a long-range strike from Kirkpatrick squirmed through Kelly’s grasp and flew into the net.

Livi almost drew level six minutes later when fine build-up play saw Mullen played clean through down the right but his low, angled drive fizzed inches past McDowall’s far post. Steven Hetherington picked up the first yellow card for the home side for a mistimed tackle on Mullen. The resultant free kick from Cadden was comfortably saved by McDowall.

The Lions eventually got their reward on 36 minutes as they drew level when Alan Lithgow curled in a terrific cross to the far post which was met by the unmarked Mullen who looped a fine header back across goal into the corner of the net. They almost took the lead four minutes later as Liam Buchanan intercepted a throw-in and raced towards goal but his shot was off target.

The home side came within inches of regaining the lead on 42 minutes as Mackin met a low cross from the left with a neat flick that cannoned back off the post and rolled along the line into Kelly’s grateful arms. The final chance of the half saw Crighton meet Millar’s free kick but head just wide.

Half time: Alloa Athletic 1-1 Livingston

The Lions got the second half off to the perfect start as they took the lead within three minutes of the restart. Crighton found space down the right and curled in a fine cross to the far post which was headed down by Cadden for Buchanan to volley into the bottom corner from 12 yards.

It was almost 3-1 three minutes later as another terrific cross from Crighton found Cadden at the far post but his shot rolled inches wide of the far post. Crighton came close to a fortuitous goal on the hour mark as his cross from the right almost deceived McDowall but landed on top of the net. The Wasps then enjoyed a spell of sustained pressure but the attack came to an end with a soft header over the bar.

Livi made their first change on 66 minutes as Rafa De Vita came on in place of Cadden before a second switch followed two minutes later, Nikolay Todorov coming on for Mullen. Millar came so close to his first Lions goal on 76 minutes when Buchanan teed him up but his ferocious effort from the edge of the box flew just wide of the post. Another chance followed a minute later as Crighton’s header was palmed to safety by McDowall.

David Hopkin made his final change with 12 minutes to go as Buchanan made way for Josh Mullin. Seven minutes later a fine whipped cross from Lithgow was met by Todorov but he headed wide. It proved a crucial miss as the home side went up the other end and squared the game when Mackin spun into space at the edge of the box and curled a low shot into the bottom corner.

The draw still suited Livi far more than the Wasps and that was never more evident than in the first minute of stoppage time when the home side threw most of their outfield players forward for a corner, allowing a Lions counter attack that came within inches of winning the game. De Vita burst forward and played in Mullin who took the ball round McDowall and fired the ball goalwards but Andy Graham got back in the nick of time to clear the shot off the line.

That was the final chance of the match as the Lions were held to their first stalemate in 39 matches stretching back to last March. The result keeps Livi ten points clear of Airdrie, with a game in hand, with three months of the season to go.

Full-time: Alloa Athletic 2-2 Livingston

Alloa Athletic: McDowell, Taggart, Waters, McKeown, Graham, Holmes, Cawley (Longworth 84), Hetherington (Spence 66), Mackin, McCluskey (Flannigan 66), Kirkpatrick
Subs not used: Wilson, Robertson, Marr, Hoggan
Goals: Kirkpatrick (25),  Mackin (86)

Livingston: Kelly, Crighton, Lithgow, Gallagher, Halkett, Byrne, Cadden (De Vita 67), Pittman, Millar, Buchanan (Mullin 78), Mullen (Todorov 69)
Subs not used: Maley, Longridge, Knox, Sinclair
Goals: Mullen (36), Buchanan (48)

 Referee: Kevin Graham
Att: 565
Match Report: Andy Crawford

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