Livi slipped to a damaging, if unfortunate, defeat as Dumbarton claimed a narrow victory at a windswept Cheaper Insurance Direct Stadium to cut the Lions adrift in the race to avoid the relegation play-off in the Ladbrokes Championship.
A fluke goal from Mark Docherty early in the second half handed the Sons their second win of the season over the Lions to leave David Hopkin’s side five points adrift in ninth place.
The Livi boss made three changes to his side as Osman Kakay made his debut following his loan move from QPR, Darren Cole made a long-awaited return from injury and Gary Glen returned to the side after missing the draw with Falkirk. Ben Gordon, Jackson Longridge and Mark Fotheringham were the ones to drop out of the matchday squad.
The match was in some doubt as, even after passing a 10am inspection, ref Crawford Allan felt the need to check again as fierce winds buffeted the stadium before giving the game the go ahead. Even after the match was underway, there was a brief discussion with the two managers on the possibility of an abandonment as any high balls from the right hand goal struggled to reach the halfway line.
As it was, the game went on and it was Livi who had the first effort as Glen whipped in a corner which was headed over by Danny Mullen. The Lions were getting a lot of joy down Dumbarton’s right as debutant Kakay showed his attacking qualities, not to mention silky skills, in abundance.
Dumbarton’s first effort came on five minutes as Fleming latched onto a loose ball to go clear but Marc McCallum did well to save. The resultant corner was cleared and Livi countered quickly, Jordan White playing in Liam Buchanan but his effort fizzed across goal and wide. Another Livi corner then fell for White but his snapshot was blocked and Dumbarton were able to clear.
White then showed real determination to force his way through but saw his cross towards Mullen blocked as Livi continued to enjoy the better of proceedings with the wind at their back. The wind was to hinder the Lions though as a Sam Stanton corner was caught by a gust and sailed all the way out of the ground.
The wind was beginning to dominate the game as the chances of flowing football grew less and less. Livi forced another effort on 26 minutes as Kakay’s quick feet and fighting spirit helped him find Stanton but his shot sailed over the bar. McCallum had been enjoying a fairly quiet afternoon but had to be alert to deny Grant Gallagher at his near post. Up the other end, Stanton tried his luck with another effort from distance which Jamie Ewings did well to save. Livi pressed hard as the half drew to a close, with White and Mullen both going close, but the sides went in all-square.
Half-time: Dumbarton 0-0 Livingston
Livi boss Hopkin made a double change at the interval as Mullen, who had picked up a knock just before the break, and Cole were replaced by Jordyn Sheerin and Morgyn Neill. The Lions continued to enjoy the bulk of the pressure despite now playing into the wind but couldn’t make the most of a couple of decent crosses early on. At the other end, a brave block from Craig Halkett denied Rangers loanee Tom Walsh when he tried his luck from range.
The wind continued to dominate proceedings and it was to be the deciding factor as Dumbarton took the lead on 56 minutes in highly fortuitous circumstances. Docherty swung in a corner from the right that was caught by the wind and sailed straight into the net with McCallum left grasping at thin air.
Livi were stunned by the loss of that fluke goal and continued to press with Buchanan and Stanton driving forward and the ball fell to Sheerin but his curling effort with the outside of his right foot flew wide. Sheerin then flicked a ball on for Buchanan who did well to find a shooting chance but his effort trundled wide. The home side remained a threat on the counter and McCallum had to be alert to save low to his left and then punch clear the resulting corner.
Livi made their final switch as Charlie Telfer made his debut in place of Scott Pittman, who hadn’t been allowed to exert his usual influence on the game. McCallum was then called into action once again to make a terrific double save, first denying Gallagher’s effort from distance and then reacting brilliantly to make a point blank stop from Walsh’s rebound.
A final chance came Livi’s way as a cross from Glen curled devilishly into the box and was cleared only as far as Declan Gallagher and his first-time effort was flicked wide by a Livi leg as time, and chances, ran out to save the day and the Lions were condemned to an agonising defeat.
Full-time: Dumbarton 1-0 Livingston
The Lions have a free weekend next Saturday as the William Hill Scottish Cup takes centre stage once again before they return to action in two weeks time with a visit from League Cup finalists Hibernian. The match is a 5.15pm kick and will be televised by BBC Alba.
Dumbarton: Ewings, Docherty, Saunders, Buchanan, Cawley (Taggart 71), Gallagher, Fleming, Routledge, Lindsay (Barr 78), Wright, Walsh (Heh 86)
Subs not used: Brown, Waters, McCallum, Kirkpatrick
Goals: Docherty (56)
Livingston: McCallum, Halkett, Cole (Sheerin 46), Gallagher, Kakay, Glen, Pittman (Telfer 78), Stanton, Mullen (Neill 46), White, Buchanan
Subs not used: Gibbons, Currie, Knox, Quinn
Referee: Crawford Allan
Match Report: Andy Crawford