After impressing in the group stage, finishing top of a section including Premiership side Partick Thistle, the Lions look to reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred Cup for the first time since 2005 as they travel to Championship rivals Falkirk this evening.
That run, which eventually ended in the semi-finals, was a rare highlight during the club’s dismal final season in the top flight but has proved to be the closest the club has come to lifting the trophy for a second time.
The Lions have reached the last-16 in four of the last five seasons, losing to top flight opposition on each occasion (Hearts, Motherwell, Aberdeen and Inverness) – here’s hoping we can go one step further tonight against a divisional rival!
So let’s take a look ahead to tonight’s match.
How have the Bairns fared so far?
Peter Houston’s side cruised through their Betfred Cup group, winning all four matches to ensure they advanced as one of the seeded group winners.
After opening with a comfortable 4-1 win over League Two Stirling Albion, courtesy of goals from Nathan Austin, Joe McKee (once of Livi), Alex Harris and Aaron Muirhead, Falkirk took control of the group with a 2-0 win at Inverness, Austin and McKee again on the scoresheet.
Another ex-Lion, Myles Hippolyte, bagged a hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Forfar that secured their progress (Austin bagging the other) before a 3-0 win at newly-promoted Brechin City ensured they would be seeded for the last-16 draw. Lee Miller, McKee and Harris were the scorers at Glebe Park.
Their impressive form in this competition didn’t transfer over to the league, though, as, despite taking an early lead against St Mirren thanks to another from Austin, goals from Stelios Demetriou, Cammy Smith and Gavin Reilly gave the Buddies a 3-1 win. The result was compounded when Muirhead was sent off late on, meaning he will be suspended for tonight’s clash.
What happened last time we met?
The two sides last met in March 2016 and it ended in a dramatic win for the Lions at the Falkirk Stadium.
Jordan White gave Livi the lead 14 minutes from time, steering the ball home from Liam Buchanan’s cut back. When Sam Stanton slammed home a low drive from 20 yards in the final minute the victory looked secure but they didn’t count on the extraordinary events that happened in injury time.
Will Vaulks headed home in the first added minute to halve the deficit and it looked as though the Bairns might salvage an unlikely point when they were awarded a penalty when Jackson Longridge fouled Lee Miller. The Livi defender was sent off but Lions stopper Marc McCallum made an excellent save to keep out Baird’s penalty as David Hopkin’s side held on for an unlikely 2-1 win.
Overall, Falkirk hold the upper hand on the head to head record, having come out on top in 17 of the 32 previous meetings dating back to 1999. The Lions have won nine of the meetings, with six draws. This will be the first time the sides have met in a cup competition.
What do the bookies think?
The Bairns are heavy favourites for tonight’s match with tournament sponsors Betfred, who rate Peter Houston’s side as an 8/11 chance to advance to the last eight. Livi are available at 7/2.
If you fancy a repeat of the result from our last visit to the Falkirk Stadium, a 2-1 Livi win can be backed at 14/1.
Looking at the tournament as a whole, Falkirk are available at 33/1 to win the trophy while the Lions are seen as the rank outsides, with odds of 150/1 on a second Hampden success in November.
Who is the man in the middle?
Tonight’s referee will be Andrew Dallas, who took charge of our friendly defeat to Motherwell back in early July. He will be assisted by Sean Carr and Brian Templeton, with Mat Northcroft serving as fourth official.
How much is it to get in?
Prices have been slashed for tonight’s clash, and are as follows:
Admission is pay-at-the gate. There is no need to buy tickets in advance.
Both home and away fans will be accommodated in the main stand at the Falkirk Stadium, with Livi fans housed at the north end of the stand (the end nearest the usual away stand).
Hope to see you there!