Dunfermline Athletic 3-1 Livingston

A lacklustre first half display condemned Livi to first league defeat in seven games as Dunfermline leapfrogged them into second place in the Ladbrokes Championship table.

After falling behind to a fortuitous Kallum Higginbotham goal inside two minutes, a further strike from Fraser Aird and one more from Higginbotham had the Pars out of sight by half time, Danny Mullen’s late strike proving mere consolation for the Lions.

David Hopkin made one enforced change from the fine 2-0 win over Dundee United as Dale Carrick replaced Nicky Cadden, who had gone off injured early in the win over United.

The Lions started very brightly and put their hosts under significant pressure in the early stages but were stung inside two minutes by a bizarre goal as keeper Neil Alexander delayed his clearance and when he blasted the ball it rebounded off Higginbotham into the net to give the Pars a fortuitous lead.

Livi pushed forward undeterred by the early set back and Sean Murdoch did well to keep out a Josh Mullin effort at the far post in fifth minute. The Lions spent most of the next five minutes camped in Dunfermline’s half but their momentum was stalled by a break in play for an injury to Jackson Longridge.

Dunfermline`s efforts to get back up the park were led by Aird and Higginbotham but the latter was eventually dispossessed by Penrice. Danny Mullen was able to break into the Pars box in the 19th minute only to be closed out, although Shaun Byrne`s challenge on Lee Ashcroft`s clearance spun the ball back towards goal but Murdoch came to the rescue.

Next Aird burst through the middle and with the defence parting tried a crack at goal but his effort was much too high. As the midpoint of the first half passed Higginbotham threaded a fine ball through for Ryan Williamson to run on to and cross but there was no one in the vicinity of his delivery to take advantage.

The Pars doubled their lead on the half hour was a fantastic solo effort from Aird. The Canadian internationalist met a pass from Jason Talbot on half way, made a strong run up the left, cut inside and when he saw the opportunity, he placed the ball in the top right of the Livi net to make it 2-0.

The second goal allowed Allan Johnston’s side to relax but a swift interchange from Aird to Clark and back set up the pass to Higginbotham 20 yards out and he fired a fine strike into the corner of the net to make it 3-0.

The Pars saw the half out to go in at the interval in total command with Livi left to rue a mix of bad luck and sloppy defending.

Half time: Dunfermline Athletic 3-0 Livingston

David Hopkin shuffled his pack for the start of the second half, sending on Declan Gallagher and Jack McMillan for Josh Mullin and Dale Carrick. Nikolay Todorov returned to his favoured role up front.

Within two minutes of coming on Gallagher was shown the first yellow card of the game for dumping Aird on the track. Aird had the first chance to add to the Fifers tally but slipped as he shot from 15 yards and was off target. There was a 52nd minute chance for Callum Smith when Clark cut back from the right goal line but the youngster skied his effort. Livi made their final change on 54 minutes as Raffaele De Vita replaced Longridge.

The first Dunfermline corner of the afternoon in 57th was blown up by referee Andrew Dallas before it could reach the six yard box for some over enthusiastic challenges. Next minute Aaron Splaine benefited from a fine square ball from Nat Wedderburn to Williamson who then sent the midfielder through on goal but his effort flew high into the Norrie McCathie Stand.

Clark came closer in 61 minutes after Talbot evaded a rash Todorov challenge to set up the striker but his effort went wide off the post. In 64 minutes Aird sent on a cross that found the head of Clark and he made Alexander tip the ball over his crossbar for another corner from the right, from which Clark’s shot was blocked.

Two minutes later the Lions got their best chance this far when De Vita took the ball to the left goal line and cut back for Mullen but from the edge of the six yard box, he failed to take the chance.

Todorov headed over the bar when De Vita sent in a 71st minute corner from the right. Sub Jack McMillan might have done better had he chosen to shoot when the ball fell to him five minutes later but he chose to cross instead and the chance was gone.

As time ticked down the result seemed inevitable but the Lions added a modicum of intrigue to the final few minutes as they pulled a goal back. Todorov headed down McMillan`s cross from a corner on the left and Mullen turned the ball in from six yards.

Livi pushed up for another but it was far too late for a dramatic finale as the Pars saw out the final minutes to claim the points and move ahead of the Lions into second spot.

Full-time: Dunfermline Athletic 3-1 Livingston

Dunfermline: Murdoch, Williamson, Talbot, Morris, Ashcroft, Aird (Cardle 81), Higginbotham, Wedderburn, Clark, Splaine, Smith (Ryan 81)
Subs not used: Gill, Martin, McManus, Sheils, Mvoto
Goals: Higginbotham (2 & 38), Aird (30)

Livingston: Alexander, Todorov, Halkett, Lithgow, Mullin (McMillan 45), Penrice, Pittman, Byrne, Longridge (De Vita 54), Mullen, Carrick (Gallagher 45)
Subs not used: Maley, Jacobs, Mackin, Knox
Goals: Mullen (87)

Referee: Andrew Dallas
Att: 5,059
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine

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