Last time out, Livingston recorded an impressive 1-0 victory to leapfrog Hibernian as they jumped up to 7th place. Scott Pittman netted the only goal of the game on a record-breaking afternoon for the stalwart.
David Martindale made two changes from his side’s 2-1 victory at Pittodrie. Morgan Boyes made his first start for the club, replacing Adam Lewis who dropped to the bench, and Ivan Konovalov made his Livingston debut in the absence of the suspended Max Stryjek.
Captain Nicky Devlin was in line to make it 100 appearances for The Lions, and Scott Pittman would also hit a milestone as he became Livingston’s record top flight appearance holder, with 124 Premiership outings, overtaking the legendary Oscar Rubio.
It was the home side who created the first real opening of the afternoon. Some good hold-up play from Joel Nouble saw him switch the ball to Devlin, and the full back burst beyond Josh Doig down the byline. The skipper flashed a teasing low ball across the six-yard box but neither Pittman or Odin Bailey could get on the end of the delivery.
Hibs had their first chance shortly after. Ewan Henderson robbed Jason Holt of possession in the middle of the park, and drove into the box unchallenged. The midfielder saw a shooting opportunity open up, but overcooked the effort which flew over the bar.
Nouble came close to netting his first Livi goal after he met a ball over the top from Devlin to get in behind the Hibs defence. Matt Macey rushed out to close down the striker, who tried to lob the onrushing goalkeeper but his headed effort didn’t have enough power as Paul Hanlon got back to clear.
Harry Clarke was causing a few problems and had a couple of chances to put the visitors in front, but it was the second half in which Hibs came closest to troubling Konovalov. A nice turn allowed Joe Newell to let rip from distance, but the midfielder’s powerful strike flew just over the bar.
On 57 minutes, Livingston took the lead through who else but Scott Pittman. Some lovely passing on the left wing finished with Andrew Shinnie cutting back to Pittman, and the midfielder smashed home in typical fashion to net his 40th goal for the club on appearance 299.
The Lions went close to doubling their lead a few moments later. After Boyes’ ball into the feet of Nouble, the striker spun Hanlon and made space for the shot, but Macey was there to divert away from close range.
Substitute Alan Forrest then came even closer to doing what Nouble couldn’t and putting Livingston 2-0 to the good. A slack pass from Newell on the edge of his own box presented Forrest with a golden opportunity to slide the ball into the empty net but, on the stretch, the winger saw his strike go wide of the post.
This nearly came back to bite the hosts as Ewan Henderson’s inviting cross was met by Elias Melkerson up the other end, but the Norwegian couldn’t find the target with an outstretched leg.
Forrest was involved again for Livi, but this time fashioned an opening for himself after he was gifted one earlier. He beat a couple of Hibs defenders on the edge of the box before curling a strike which looked destined for the top corner, but Macey flew across to tip behind.
That was the last chance of the match in what was another superb win for Livingston, who have now matched last season’s final points tally of 44 with three games to play.
The victory moves Martindale’s men up into 7th position as they aim to finish the season strongly with the prize being ‘best of the rest’ at the top of the bottom six.
Match Report: Calum Brown
Livingston: Konovalov, Devlin, Fitzwater, Obileye, Boyes, Holt ▊, Kelly ▊, Pittman ▊, Bailey (Forrest 66), Shinnie (Sibbald 84), Nouble (Soto 90)
Subs not used: Maley, Lewis, Longridge, McMillan, Montaño, Chukwuemeka
Goals: Pittman (57)
Hibernian: Macey, McGinn, Hanlon, Clarke ▊, Stevenson (Mitchell 81), Doyle-Hayes, Newell, Doig, Henderson, Scott (Jasper 61), Melkersen ▊
Subs not used: Dabrowski, Mueller, Allan, McGregor, Campbell, Rocky, Delferriere
Referee: Chris Graham