The two Championship new boys go head to head for the first time this season as League One champions Livi travel to face surprise play-off winners Brechin City.
The Lions head north on the back of the thrilling Betfred Cup win over Falkirk that extended their unbeaten run to 15 matches dating back to March but know they will be in for a tough challenge against a Brechin side very much on the up.
Twelve months after needing a run of eight wins in their last 10 matches to avoid relegation to League Two, Darren Dods led the Glebe Park men to an unexpected fourth place finish.
Even then, few gave them a chance of joining the Lions in the second tier but, after relegating Raith Rovers on penalties in the semi-final, they saw off Alloa in another shootout to seal their place in the Championship.
Let’s take a look at tomorrow’s opponents and preview the big match.
What have the Angus men been up to this summer?
It’s been a busy summer for the Hedgemen as they prepare for their first campaign in the second tier since 2006.
So far six new faces have arrived at Glebe Park including Livi’s League One title-winning captain from last season, Sean Crighton. Another member of last season’s Lions squad – Jordan Sinclair – followed suit a few days later. Ryan McGeever, Isaac Layne, Euan Spark and Kalvin Orsi have also been brought in by Dods ahead of the new season, while nine of last season’s heroes signed new contracts.
How have they fared so far?
Friendly wins over Spartans and Montrose (both 2-0) were followed by a defeat by the same score to Dundee in another warm-up match.
The Betfred Cup group stage proved a steep learning curve for City, their only success coming on penalties against Forfar Athletic after a 1-1 draw at Glebe Park. Defeats to Inverness (3-0), Stirling Albion (2-0) and Falkirk (3-0) saw them finish fourth in their group.
They opened their Ladbrokes Championship campaign with a long trip to Palmerston to take on Queen of the South, slipping to a 4-1 defeat. A Derek Lyle double plus one from John Rankin had the Doonhamers 3-0 up before Chris O’Neil pulled one back. Lyndon Dykes sealed the win for Gary Naysmith’s side.
What happened last time?
Four meetings last season brought four wins for the Lions as they romped to the League One title.
The sides first met in September at the Tony Macaroni Arena as goals from Danny Mullen and Scott Pittman gave the Lions a 2-1 victory – Alan Trouten grabbing the visitors’ consolation.
After a goalless first half in the second meeting, Livi eventually ran out comfortable wins as quickfire goals from Liam Buchanan and Jackson Longridge were added to late on by Shaun Byrne’s first Livi goal to seal a 3-0 success.
The Lions made a lightning start to the first meeting, going in front through Buchanan inside 25 seconds. Craig Halkett and Nicky Cadden completed the scoring in another 3-0 success.
The title was firmly in Livi’s side as they made their final trip to Glebe Park and a double from Buchanan did the damage in a 2-0 win that set the Lions up to secure the title the following week.
Any team news?
New Livi signing Joe Thomson comes straight into contention for a debut after joining on loan from Celtic. Ross Brown is still out.
It could be a big moment for Keaghan Jacobs as he will equal Liam Fox’s club appearance record if he features tomorrow. An appearance tomorrow would be his 219th in a Livi shirt, setting him to possibly break the record against Morton on Tuesday night.
Who is the man in the middle tomorrow?
The referee for tomorrow’s match is Gavin Duncan, who will be assisted by Frank Connor and Steven Strang.
The last time Mr Duncan took charge of the Lions was actually the last time they suffered defeat on their travels – the 2-1 defeat at East Fife on New Year’s Eve. Hopefully it’s not an omen!
How do the bookies see the match going?
League sponsors Ladbrokes see Livi as strong favourites to claim the victory tomorrow afternoon, available at just 3/4. Brechin are 16/5 to pick up their first second-tier win in 11 years while a draw is available at 5/2.
Livi won both Glebe Park meetings last season without conceding – if you fancy them to do so again you can back that at 11/5.
Looking at the Championship as a whole, Ladbrokes don’t expect either side to be anywhere near the promotion reckoning come the end of the season with Livi currently 20/1 to lift the second tier title for a second time. City are red hot favourites for an immediate return to League One, with odds of 200/1 on them being crowned champions in May.
What will it cost to get in to the match?
Gate prices have been confirmed as £13 for adults and £7 for concessions. A parent & child deal is available, costing £16 (+ £2 for any additional child). Admission is pay at the gate.
The Livi Lions Supporter’s Club is running a bus to tomorrow’s match, with pick-up times as follows:
- The Dreadnought (Bathgate) – 11:55am
- The Saltire (Carmondean) – 12:05pm
- Tony Macaroni Arena – 12:15pm
- Crofthead Farm (Dedridge) – 12:20pm
- The Black Bull (Mid Calder) – 12:25pm
- The Cawburn (Pumpherston) – 12:30pm
The fare is £11 per traveller and exact change is appreciated.
We hope to see you at Glebe Park tomorrow!