Livi were knocked out of the Scottish League Cup despite pushing Inverness Caledonian Thistle all the way on a frustrating night at The Tony Macaroni Arena.
The Lions more than matched last season’s Scottish Cup winners but were left to rue missed chances and defensive sloppiness as ex-Livi boss John Hughes marked his return to West Lothian with a victory.
The current Lions gaffer Mark Burchill made two changes to the side that lost out narrowly to Hibs at the weekend as Jordyn Sheerin and captain Darren Cole came in for Hugo Faria and Liam Buchanan.
It was the Premiership side who started the brighter and on-loan Celtic man Ryan Christie came close with a fine curling effort that forced Darren Jamieson into a diving save. The deadlock was broken on 12 minutes and it was a moment to forget for Morgyn Neill as his back-header was fractionally underweight which allowed Miles Storey to nip in ahead of Jamieson and, after almost making a pig’s ear of it, tap home.
Livi responded well to the loss of the goal and Sheerin teed up Myles Hippolyte but his effort on the stretch didn’t trouble Owain Fon Williams in the Caley Thistle goal. Cole then released Jackson Longridge down the left and, after beating his man, he curled in a fine cross for Jordan White but his header was blocked. Sheerin then came close to an equaliser when Ross Millen’s free kick landed at his feet and, after his first shot was blocked, he could only scoop the rebound over the bar.
The Lions were enjoying a good spell of pressure and Scott Pittman did well to tee up Gary Glen but he could only fire over the bar. Glen went even closer barely a minute later when Hippolyte found him with an inch-perfect cross but his powerful downward header was brilliantly tipped away by Fon Williams. Another chance came Livi’s way soon after as Millen free kick found Neill unmarked with his back to goal and his flicked header looped goalwards but dropped agonisingly onto the roof of the net.
Livi were left to rue their missed chances as Caley doubled their lead on 42 minutes when Danny Devine was left unmarked at the back post to head home a free kick and make it 2-0 at the interval.
Half-time: Livingston 0-2 Inverness CT
Livi knew an early goal was crucial if they were to have any chance of getting back into the game and they were almost gifted a lifeline when David Raven tried to head a free kick clear but instead sent it just over his own crossbar. Glen then fired in an acrobatic effort which flew inches wide of the post. Caley were content to hit Livi on the counter and almost grabbed a third goal when Greg Tansey curled an effort just wide of Jamieson’s post.
Both sides made their three changes in fairly quick succession as Buchanan, Ryan Currie and Spas Georgiev replaced Glen, White and Hippolyte for Livi while the visitors sent on Liam Polworth, James Dani Lopez and Andrea Mutombo in place of Storey, James Vincent and Carl Tremarco. Caley’s latter two replacements almost had an instant impact as Mutombo released Lopez but he could only shoot wide. Mutombo then forced a chance of his own but hit the post, much to his manager’s frustration.
In the end the misses mattered little as Caley cruised through the latter stages and sealed their place in the quarter-finals, inflicting Livi’s first cup defeat of the season in the process.
Full-time: Livingston 0-2 Inverness CT
For Livi, attention now turns to the vital double-header as trips to Alloa and Dumbarton loom large – first up is the trip to the Indodrill Stadium this Saturday.
Livingston: Jamieson, Millen, Longridge, Cole, Pittman, White (Buchanan 74), Hippolyte (Georgiev 73), Gallagher, Neill, Sheerin, Glen (Currie 83)
Subs not used: Gould, Gordon, Faria, Gibbons
Inverness CT: O.Williams, Raven, Tremarco, Meeking, Draper, Vincent (Mutombo 87), Devine, Tansey (Polworth 76), D.Williams, Christie, Storey (Lopez 87)
Subs not used: Esson, Foran, Wedderburn, Horner
Goals: Storey (12), Devine (43)
Referee: Alan Muir
Match Report: Andy Crawford