Livi’s poor start to the Ladbrokes Championship campaign continued as they slipped to a narrow defeat at home to Falkirk.
Lions boss Mark Burchill made two changes to his starting line-up from Tuesday night’s extra-time win over Queen of the South in the Petrofac Cup as Hugo Faria and Danny Mullen came in for Scott Pittman and Jordyn Sheerin. The Bairns arrived in West Lothian on the back of a 5-3 cup defeat to Rory McAllister on Tuesday night but protecting an unbeaten start in the Championship.
It was the visitors who made the brighter start and Mark Kerr almost released John Baird with a neat through ball but Ben Gordon was on hand to make a crucial block. Livi then broke up the other end and Jackson Longridge released Jordan White but he was denied by the linesman’s flag. The deadlock was eventually broken after 15 minutes and it was a goal fit to grace any game as the Bairns took the lead when Luke Leahy unleashed a thunderous effort which flew high past Darren Jamieson and into the net.
Livi responded and Myles Hippolyte tried his luck with a free kick from 30 yards which Danny Rogers saved with ease. The Bairns then went close when David Smith fired a low ball across goal but no one was on hand to turn it in. The Lions then passed up a big chance to draw level when White and Gordon linked up well but the latter sent his effort wide from close range. The first half petered out as neither side threatened further before the interval, Falkirk comfortably protecting their 1-0 lead.
Half-time: Livingston 0-1 Falkirk
Burchill made one change at the interval as Gary Glen replaced Spas Georgiev and it sparked a positive start to the half for the Lions as, after sending a free kick over the bar, Mullen brought Livi level on 51 minutes as he got the final touch in a goalmouth scramble to force the ball past Rogers and square the game.
Peter Houston’s side should have restored their lead within three minutes when Craig Sibbald was found unmarked but he could only send his header against the post. It was only a brief respite for Livi though as Falkirk made it 2-1 on 61 minutes when a cross wasn’t dealt with and Will Vaulks slammed the ball beyond Jamieson from close range.
Livi battled hard in search of a second equaliser and came close when Mullen looped in a header which Rogers did well to save. Sibbald then picked up the game’s first booking for a foul on Hippolyte before Burchill made a double substitution, sending on Sheerin and Liam Buchanan for White and Longridge.
Falkirk went in search of a killer third goal and Baird tried his luck from distance but Jamieson was equal to his effort. Livi then went up the other end and Sheerin did well to find space and get a cross in but Mullen fired his volleyed effort over the bar. Livi picked up their first caution of the game as Faria was booked for a foul on the keeper.
The visitors came close to a third once again as Vaulks sent in an effort from the edge of the box which Jamieson did well to palm over before Sheerin tried his luck with a spinning volley from 20 yards which flew just wide of the post with Rogers beaten. That proved to be the last chance of the match as Falkirk held on to claim all three points.
Full-time: Livingston 1-2 Falkirk
Unstoppable in the cups, the Lions have found league duty much tougher going and remain pointless after three games following this latest reverse. Next up is another double-header, this time in the shape of back-to-back trips to Paisley, first up on League Cup duty on Tuesday before a league encounter next Saturday.
Livingston: Jamieson, Gallagher, Sives, Gordon, Longridge (Sheerin 67), Faria, Cole, Georgiev (Glen 45), Hippolyte, Mullen, White (Buchanan 67)
Subs: Gould, Millen, Neill, Gibbons
Goals: Mullen (52)
Falkirk: Rogers, Leahy, Vaulks, Taiwo, Alston, Baird, Sibbald, Kerr, Grant, Smith (Muirhead 82), Watson.
Subs: Bowman, McCracken, Miller, Shpherd, Blaird, Cooper
Goals: Leahy (16), Vaulks (62)
Referee: Andrew Dallas
Match report: Andy Crawford