Livingston slumped to their third defeat in as many matches, falling 1-0 to Hearts at Tynecastle in their first midweek game of the season. Kenneth Vargas’ strike 10 minutes from time saw the hosts take the three points, despite a valiant defending display from the Lions.
David Martindale made wholesale changes from the side that faced Dundee, with Shamal George, suspended Cristiano Montano, Bruce Anderson, Daniel MacKay, Steven Bradley and Luiyi De Lucas dropping out for Jack Hamilton, Scott Pittman, Stephen Kelly, debutant Mile Welch-Hayes, Mo Sangare and Andrew Shinnie.
Both teams started fairly cautiously, although Livingston did have a speculative effort through Stephen Kelly. His strike from 25 yards was high and wide, and had no chance of troubling Zander Clark in the Hearts goal.
Quarter of an hour on the clock and Hearts had a great chance, with Lawrence Shankland receiving the ball on the edge of the box, his shot looked lasered into the top left corner, however Michael Devlin managed to get his head on the shot to deflect it wide for a corner.
Five minutes later and the hosts would again have the chance to open the deadlock. Former Lion James Forrest would collect the ball just inside the box, his shot was blocked and after a melee it fell sweetly for Shankland, whose driving effort crashed off the crossbar and away.
The Hearts captain was causing all sorts of problems for the Livingston defence and five minutes to half time he again collected the ball at the edge of the box. He unleashed a ferocious shot which looked destined for the top corner, but an inspired save from Jack Hamilton kept the hosts out.
Hearts picked up where they left off in the second half, and had a great opportunity just minutes after break. Stephen Kingsley would try an effort from all of 30 yards, however his effort was again saved well by Hamilton.
The visitors would get forward in an attempt to shock the home support. Mo Sangare played a beautiful reverse ball to Stephen Kelly in the box, however his first touch took him wide. His resultant back heel seemed to stump both the defence and the Livi attack, and ended up rolling past the far post.
The Jambos really had a hold of the game and it appeared a case of when not if they would take the lead. Half time substitute Jorge Grant had a stinging effort whistle past the post, as well as an audacious outside of the boot effort being easily saved by Hamilton.
The deadlock would eventually be broken, but it would take until the 79th minute to come. Some patient build up play on the left side of the box went unchallenged, and this allowed Grant to curl a lovely low ball across the face of goal to the back post, where Kenneth Vargas was waiting to knock the ball home.
And a minute later it was almost two, with Shankland and Grant combining on the edge of the box to lay up Calem Nieuwenhof, but his low drive was wide to the left of the goal.
Livingston pushed on looking for an equaliser, bringing on Bruce Anderson and Danny Lloyd, however despite some late pressure in stoppage time they were unable to get the goal they needed, and travel back along the M8 looking to buck the trend as they travel to Dens Park on Sunday.
Match Report: David Hastie
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN
Clark, Kent, Kingsley, Baningime ▊(Nieuwenhof 76), Shankland ©️, Boyce (Vargas 69), Devlin ▊ (Grant 45), Rowles, Forrest (Oda 62), Cochrane, Lowry (Halliday 90+4)
Subs not used:
Hamilton, Devlin ©️, Pittman, St.Kelly (Brandon 67), Welch-Hayes (MacKay 89), Holt ▊(Lloyd 82), Nouble, Sangare, Shinnie ▊ (Anderson 82 ▊), Sn.Kelly, Penrice ▊
Subs not used:
|Referee: Chris Graham | HT: 0-0 | Att:|