Livingston secured safe passage to the fifth round of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup, coming from behind to beat Raith Rovers 2-1. First goals for the club for Jamie Brandon and Dan MacKay cancelled out a fifth minute Jack Hamilton strike as the former Lion threatened to cause an upset at The Tony Macaroni Arena.
It was Livingston’s first game coming back from the winter break and it showed that Rovers did not have such a pause, racing out the traps from the go and applying the early pressure on the hosts. It wouldn’t take long to take the lead, a long ball fired over the top of the Livingston defence was met by Jack Hamilton, who took the ball down beautifully on his chest before slotting under keeper Shamal George to send the away fans into raptures.
Livi managed to get a handle of the game from that point and settled into some secure possession, a Stephen Kelly free-kick threatening to cause trouble in the Raith box, however Michael Devlin’s header was wide of the mark.
The visitors would still threaten however and George had to be on his toes as an Aidan Connolly shot from 20 yards flashed narrowly passed the near post.
The hosts had a perfect opportunity to level the scoring midway through the first half. Raith midfielder Kyle Turner was caught in position by Andrew Shinnie on the edge of his own box, and in a haste to put right his error felled the Livi midfielder, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. It was Shinnie himself who stepped up to take the penalty, which struck the left post before hitting Kevin Dabrowski’s right boot and cleared away by a grateful Raith defence.
Lewis Vaughan had a golden opportunity to double the visitors lead, rushing through one on one with the Lions keeper before perhaps bizarrely choosing to square the ball to the back post when a shot looked more likely; this being easily cleared by the Livi defence.
Just after the half hour mark, and the Lions were level. Dan Mackay pounced on a loose ball on the left side of the box, before looping a cross over to Jamie Brandon who took a deft touch before striking the ball past Dabrowski into the net, although perhaps aided by a deflection.
Despite the Lions really taking control of the match, Raith were crying for a penalty part way into the second half. Nice forward play by Vaughan saw him drive forward before being fouled by Scott Pittman on the edge of the box, leaving the referee with a decision to make, however he was quick to point for a freekick, which was subsequently placed over the bar.
Stephen Kelly forced Dabrowski into a smart save shortly after, receiving the ball just in the box, although the angle may not have been kind to the number 10, he lashed a shot goalwards which secured a corner for Livi.
And Kelly had an even better opportunity moments later. Mackay, who put in a man of the match performance received the ball in midfield and after a clever one two with Mo Sangare cut the ball back to Kelly, who got his shot from the penalty spot all wrong and screwed it high over the bar.
Defender Liam Dick called George into action again as both sides pressed for a winner. Picking up the ball from his half way line, he drove uninterrupted to the edge of the box before lacing a strike which had to be tipped over by the Livi number one.
With extra time looming, the Lions finally got the breakthrough they needed. A cross from the right found Kelly who laid off Mackay whose strike was blocked in the box. Ricocheting off the Raith defender it was crossed once again into the box, although missed by all it found Kelly on the left side of the box. His cross to the six yard box found the head of Mackay, who nodded the ball down off the turf and into the net to secure the Lions a spot in the next round.
Match Report: David Hastie
George, Montaño (MacKay 29 ▊), Devlin ©️ (Donnellan 62), Pittman, St.Kelly (Penrice 88), Brandon, Holt, Sangare, Nottingham, Shinnie ▊, Guthrie (Anderson 45)
Subs not used:
Dabrowski, Millen, Brown ©️, Dick, Connolly, Byrne (Gullan 83), Turner (Easton 66), Mullin, Vaugha, Hamilton, Smith ▊
Subs not used:
|Referee: Grant Irvine | HT: 1-1 | Att: 2,580