Livi made the most of their Irn Bru Cup reprieve as they comfortably saw off Northern Irish champions Crusaders to set up a quarter-final with TNS next Sunday.
For the third match running, the Lions turned a goalless first half into an emphatic win as David Hopkin’s much-changed side eased into the last eight. The Livi boss made a total of seven changes from the win at Brechin, making full use of his squad during a hectic run of games.
It was Livi who created the first half-chance inside two minutes as Liam Watt tried his luck from the angle of the box but saw his effort trundle wide. Alan Lithgow then tried an ambitious effort from halfway that dropped the wrong side of the bar. The Lions then survived a scare when Gary Maley scuffed a clearance straight to Carvill but he shanked his effort out for a throw-in.
Dale Carrick was next to go close, heading over the bar after Morgyn Neill had flicked on Josh Mullin’s corner. Carrick and Nicky Cadden then had long range efforts saved by Michael Dougherty. Livi had Maley to thank for two fine saves late in the half – first he parried out Carvill’s shot before, from the resulting corner, Carvill’s shot was turned goalwards by Marcio Soares and Maley spread himself well to make the save and keep the scores level at half time.
Half-time: Crusaders 0-0 Livingston
Livi wasted a great chance to take the lead early in the second half when Watt headed a long throw into space but could only prod his shot wide from six yards. Watt was replaced by Danny Mullen soon after and the sub was immediately involved as Livi took the lead, getting to the byline and cutting the ball back for Cadden to slot home at the near post.
That was Cadden’s last involvement as he was instantly replaced by Raffa De Vita and he had a similarly instant impact as Carrick did brilliantly down the left and fired in a low cross for De Vita to fire home under Dougherty for his first goal back in Livi colours.
Livi’s final change saw Liam Buchanan replace Jordan Sinclair and he almost made it three straight away, wriggling into space but seeing his shot smothered by Dougherty. Crues were almost handed a lifeline in bizarre circumstances when Maley clearance cannoned off Jallow but dropped the right side the post.
The win was secured for Livi in the final minute as Buchanan beat Dougherty to Mullin’s through ball and tapped home into the unguarded net for his 13th goal of the season.
The Lions saw out the three added minutes with ease, to secure a first clean sheet as a professional for Maley and, more importantly, once again secure a last eight tie against TNS next Sunday.
Full-time: Crusaders 0-3 Livingston
Crusaders: Dougherty, McClean, McCreery, McAnulty, Kerr, Gault, Carvill (Mitchell 76), Forsythe (Smith 74), Cushley (Nimick 86), Jallow, Soares
Subs not used: O’Neill, Doyle, Anderson, Clarke
Livingston: Maley, Neill, Crighton, Lithgow, Halkett, Mullin, Byrne, Cadden (De Vita 67), Sinclair (Buchanan 77), Watt (Mullen 64), Carrick
Subs not used: Kelly, Longridge, Pittman, Currie
Goals: Cadden (66), De Vita (74), Buchanan (89)
Referee: Nick Pratt (Wales)
Match report: Andy Crawford