Livi bounced back from their cup disappointment as they comfortably saw off struggling Dumbarton to move up to third place in the Ladbrokes Championship at a windswept Tony Macaroni Arena.
Goals from Alan Lithgow and Ryan Hardie in the space of six first half minutes were enough to hand the Lions all three points, though the margin of victory could have been even greater with the woodwork coming to the Sons’ rescue on two occasions.
David Hopkin made five changes to the side that started the 1-0 Scottish Cup defeat to Falkirk as new signings Hardie, Lee Miller and Jordan Thompson came in for their first starts alongside Nicky Cadden and Raffa De Vita. Scott Robinson and Steven Boyd dropped to the bench while Shaun Byrne and Jackson Longridge were suspended and Jack McMillan missed out altogether.
The wind was dominating proceedings in the early stages but it was Livi who had the first chance on seven minutes as Scott Pittman got in behind on the left hand side and he teed up Thompson to curl in a low effort that Scott Gallacher got down well to save. Another chance came Livi’s way four minutes later as De Vita’s free kick found Declan Gallagher at the edge of the box but his shot on the turn was comfortable for Gallacher.
The visitors’ first threat came soon after as Craig Barr got on the end of Tom Walsh’s free kick but his header flew harmlessly wide. Barr then tried his luck from 40 yards a minute later but his effort was well off target.
Craig Halkett picked up the game’s first yellow card on 20 minutes as he brought down Iain Russell at the edge of the box. Walsh took the resulting free kick but saw his low effort tipped wide by Neil Alexander. Livi countered quickly from the resulting corner and Miller released Hardie down the left hand side and he tried to tee up Pittman but saw his cross deflected through to Gallacher.
The wind played its part again a minute later as Gallacher misjudged Gregor Buchanan’s long ball and was forced to shank his clearance out for a corner. The resulting cross came to nothing but De Vita quickly forced another and this time the Lions took full advantage as De Vita’s cross found Lithgow at the back post and he rose majestically to bullet his header past Gallacher for his fourth goal of the season.
Dumbarton came close to drawing level on 27 minutes when Walsh’s cross from the left dropped to Stuart Carswell but his low volley was straight at Alexander. The Sons would quickly rue that miss as the Lions doubled their lead two minutes later when Dougie Hill and Gallacher made a mess of dealing with a ball over the top and Hardie was on hand to snatch possession before jinking away from Gallacher and slotting the ball into the unguarded net.
Liam Dick picked up the visitors’ first yellow card on 32 minutes for a foul on Pittman before Walsh tried his luck from 20 yards but saw his effort fly straight at Alexander. Livi broke quickly and Hardie showed great footwork to find space at the edge of the box before firing in a low shot that came back off the post with Gallacher beaten.
It was all Livi now and Thompson came close to a stunning third as he was set up by Pittman to curl in a tremendous effort that Gallacher had to stretch to tip over the crossbar and keep his side’s deficit at two at the interval.
Half-time: Livingston 2-0 Dumbarton
Livi picked up where they left off after the restart and Thompson came close again on 47 minutes when Lithgow’s long throw fell to him at the edge of the box but his first time effort swerved wide. The Lions were forced into a first change two minutes later as Buchanan picked up a knock and was replaced by Robinson with Gallagher dropping back to fill in at centre half. Livi were awarded a free kick 30 yards out a minute later but Cadden’s effort went straight into the wall.
Livi came within inches of a third goal on 57 minutes when Miller wriggled into space and fired in an effort that, perhaps with a little help from the wind, curled against the bar. De Vita did well to gather possession but fired his rebound across goal and wide. Thompson then released De Vita but Gallacher was out smartly to smother his effort before gathering the loose ball.
Hardie came close to his second on 62 minutes when he did well to find space at the far post but could only drag his effort wide. The visitors made their first change a minute later as Hill was replaced by Dimitris Froxylias before Livi went close again as Hardie held the ball up before finding De Vita who cut inside before firing an effort just over from the edge of the box.
The Lions passed up a big chance on 70 minutes as Cadden was released down the left and he got to the byline but his cutback was too far in front of Miller. Robinson gathered possession and teed up De Vita but his effort was blocked. Both sides made their second change on 73 minutes as Thompson was replaced by Boyd for the Lions and Calum Gallagher came on for Russell for the visitors. Livi’s final change came shortly after as Cadden was replaced by Josh Mullin.
Livi continued to dominate and came close again with ten minutes left as Boyd fed Hardie and he cut inside before shooting straight at Gallacher. David Wilson replaced Walsh in the Sons’ final change on 83 minutes before the Lions should have been awarded a penalty six minutes later when Hardie was hauled down in the box as he got set to shoot. The referee waved away the protests and the Lions were forced to settle for two as they made it three wins out of three against the Sons this season.
Full-time: Livingston 2-0 Dumbarton
Livingston: Alexander, Lithgow, Halkett, Gallagher, Thompson (Boyd 74), Pittman, Buchanan (Robinson 49), De Vita, Cadden (Mullin 79), Miller, Hardie
Subs not used: Maley, Mackin, Knox, Todorov
Goals: Lithgow (23), Hardie (28)
Dumbarton: Gallacher, Smith, Dowie, Carswell, Walsh (Wilson 83), Hutton, Hill (Froxylias 64), Dick, Russell (Gallagher 73), Nisbet, Barr
Subs not used: Johnston, Ewings, Handling
Referee: Colin Steven
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine