Hot Toddy at the Double Keeps Livi’s Spirits High
Following Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Hampden against Queen’s Park, The Lions had the task of hosting Albion Rovers in a rearranged match after the fixture had been postponed twice before.
The previous meetings between the sides had seen the points shared, with Livi winning 1-0 in Coatbridge but Rovers defeated The Lions in the last meeting at The Tony Macaroni Arena. Consequently, despite the hosts sitting at the top of the table and the visitors in second bottom place before kick-off, there was no room for complacency.
Livi made three changes from Saturday’s starting eleven, with Declan Gallagher, Nicky Cadden and Nikolay Todorov replacing Jackson Longridge, Raffaele De Vita and Danny Mullen. The home team started the better of the two sides, and were dominant in the opening few minutes. However, they had a scare in the 8th minute when top scorer Liam Buchanan picked up a knock, but luckily he continued after running off a sore knee.
Nikolay Todorov was making himself a physical presence up front, and was involved in the first real chance of the evening. He knocked down the ball well to Scott Pittman but the midfielder couldn’t get his shot away after a slight miss control. The Lions continued to dominate and had the majority of possession. Alan Lithgow tried a very speculative effort from way out which didn’t trouble Stewart in the visitors’ goal. With no goals to show for all their possession, the home fans began to transmit their nervousness onto the pitch.
Rovers sensed an opportunity to pounce and, with a few corners in a short space of time, they nearly took advantage but the Livi defence held firm. Shortly afterwards, and excellent piece of play almost led to the opening goal. Shaun Byrne played a wonderful pass through to Scott Pittman, who connected well with a volley, but Stewart made a fantastic diving save to push the ball wide for a corner.
The next chance again fell to the hosts, when Nicky Cadden tried to catch out Stewart with a free kick from the left hand side, but the Rovers Number One was equal to it. Livi’s dominance paid off in the 34th minute as they finally had the ball in the back of the net. Hearts’ loanee Nikolay Todorov pounced on a loose ball and poked home for his first Livingston goal, which was well-deserved given the run of play. The Lions comfortably held out until half time, and Rovers knew that they faced a lot of work to get back into the game.
HT: Livingston 1-0 Albion Rovers
The second half started as the first had ended, with The Lions in full control. Despite plenty of possession, very few clear-cut chances were created in the opening spell of the second period. Declan Gallagher worked some space on the right hand side. His excellent cross found an unmarked Todorov but the Bulgarian mishit his attempt and the chance was wasted.
The first change for Livingston came on the hour mark, when Liam Buchanan made way for Danny Mullen, who came on for his 150th appearance for The Lions; a great achievement for the youngster who’d only recently celebrated his 22nd birthday.
Rovers started to come back into the game, as they made two changes with Davidson and Willis coming on for McCann and Fisher. The visitors started to pressed their hosts more, testing their possession under pressure, as Rovers looked to get back into the game. However, they couldn’t create a clear cut chance of their, in what was a nervy spell for Livingston.
Two changes in quick succession came for the league leaders, with Longridge and Mullin replacing Cadden and Millar. Substitute Josh Mullin made an instant impact, as his wonderful pinpoint cross found Danny Mullen who was unmarked in the six yard box.
The striker chested the ball in from close range to mark his 150th appearance for The Lions and put the hosts 2-0 ahead and secure the victory. With only a few seconds left, it became 3-0 for the side at the top of League One. Josh Mullin’s superb delivery again, this time from a corner, found a Livi shirt. This time, it was met perfectly by Todorov, losing his marker and thumping the ball into the back of the net with a bullet header to get his second of the game and Livi’s third.
It was a comfortable win in the end for The Lions, who go 10 points clear at the top of League One. Next up, an equally important game against East Fife on Saturday at the Tony Macaroni Arena awaits.
Livingston: Kelly, Crighton, Lithgow, Gallagher, Halkett, Cadden (Longridge 72), Byrne, Pittman, Millar (Mullin 82), Buchanan (Mullen 60), Todorov
Subs not used: Maley, Knox, Sinclair, De Vita
Goals: Todorov (34 & 90), Mullen (88)
Albion Rovers: Stewart, Reid, Turnbull, Fisher (Willis 67), R.Dunlop, M.Dunlop, McCann (Davidson 67), Ferry, Stewart, Wallace (Ferguson 89), Archibald
Subs not used: Gilmour, Smith, Potts
Referee: Nick Walsh
Match Report: Calum Brown