Livi secure Last 16 berth with victory over Cowdenbeath
Goals from Bruce Anderson and Craig Sibbald alongside an own goal from Cowdenbeath’s Jamie Todd secured Livingston’s progression to the knockout phase of the Premier Sports Cup as one of three best-placed runners up!
Livingston welcomed Cowdenbeath to the Tony Macaroni Arena in the hope of securing a spot in the Last 16 of the Premier Sports Cup, but would have to rely on other results going in their favour.
David Martindale made five changes to the side that drew with Raith Rovers on Wednesday night. Ayo Oblieye, Craig Sibbald and Christian Montaño replaced Jack McMillan, James Penrice and Adam Lewis, while there were also two additions in the form of debuts with goalkeeper Daniel Barden and defender Sean Kelly making their first Livingston appearances. Wednesday’s penalty hero Max Stryjek and Tom Parkes dropped to the bench.
The Lions were forced into an early change with Jackson Longridge making way for James Penrice after the defender had picked up a knock, and matters were made worse when they went a goal behind after just nine minutes.
Cowdenbeath’s little and large combination of Kris Renton and Liam Buchanan linked up well. Renton knocked the ball down for former Livi man Buchanan who hammered past Barden from close range to give the visitor’s a shock lead in West Lothian.
Livingston came back into the game though as they started to dominate possession and create chances.
Their first half-chance of the game came when Christian Montaño tried his luck after his cross was cleared back to him on the left-hand side of the box, but his shot flew over the bar.
Shortly after, Craig Sibbald played Bruce Anderson in behind the Cowdenbeath backline on the break. Anderson managed to get the ball under control, but was forced away from goal amidst a good piece of defending by Craig Barr.
The pressure and relentless controlling of the game paid off when Livingston levelled on 20 minutes from a set-piece. Andrew Shinnie’s brilliant delivery from a corner was sent into the net at the far post by Cowdenbeath’s Jamie Todd to give the hosts an equaliser.
Shinnie’s dead ball caused havoc seven minutes later when his cross found Montaño inside the box, but he had his header cleared off line.
Unfortunately though, that was Shinnie’s last action as the former Luton Town man was forced off on 32 minutes. Jaze Kabia was his replacement.
Seven minutes before the break Livi deservedly took the lead – and it was a fantastic team goal. A brilliant passing move from the hosts, which started near their own box thanks to a James Penrice nutmeg, ended with Scott Pittman playing in Jack Fitzwater down the right. The full back for the day unselfishly squared for Anderson who tapped home for his second Livingston goal, making it 2-1 to the Lions just before half time.
Half Time – Livingston 2-1 Cowdenbeath
After the break, Livi continued where they had left off as they looked to wrap the game up. A great piece of play by Penrice down the left wing saw the full back whip in a teasing low cross for Anderson, but on the stretch the striker’s volley hit the post and bounced away to safety.
Two minutes later, Kabia and Sibbald linked up for a short corner. After a one-two with Sibbald, the Irish winger cut inside and tried his luck with a low shot, but it deflected wide of the post.
On 53 minutes, more pressure and possession paid off as Livingston got that third goal they had been looking for. A nice move again down the right saw good combination play between Fitzwater and Kabia. The latter teed off Sibbald who made a yard for himself and curled an absolute beauty into the top corner, leaving Blue Brazil keeper Cameron Gill with no chance.
The Lions had the two-goal cushion, but still went in search for more. A minute after the third, it could’ve been four. Some more great work down the right allowed Fitzwater in behind the Cowdenbeath defence. He cut back for Anderson, but the striker blazed over the bar.
This was becoming a theme, and it probably should’ve been four again on the hour mark after yet another lovely move down the right. Fitzwater found Kabia in behind as the winger glided into the area and squared for Anderson, but, the number nine just couldn’t get any contact on the ball at full stretch. Kabia was perhaps unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when he was clattered just after his cut back, but the protests were waved away by referee Steven Reid.
On 64 minutes, David Martindale freshened things up in the West Lothian sunshine with a triple substitution. Fitzwater, Holt and Anderson made way for Jack McMillan, Adam Lewis and Gavin Reilly.
But, it was Cowdenbeath who created the next chance and Liam Buchanan will feel he could’ve grabbed his second goal of the afternoon. The striker was slipped in by Fraser Mullen but after a good first touch, he dragged his shot wide of the post.
Substitute Gavin Reilly had two good chances towards the end as the hosts went looking for their fourth. The striker was initially denied by a good stop from Gill after he’d had a go from the edge of the box, and then, from the resultant corner, he met Kabia’s cross but saw his header fly just wide.
That fourth goal didn’t come for The Lions, but they were relieved to learn at the full time whistle that they had done enough….JUST…as they scraped through to the Last 16 of the competition they reached the final of last year.
With eight points, Livi finished one point behind Group D winners Raith Rovers in 2nd place, but results elsewhere meant that David Martindale’s side were one of three best placed group runners up.
They made it hard for themselves, but the only thing that matters is Livingston have qualified from the group and into the knockout phase.
Up next it’s the opening weekend of the cinch Premiership, as The Lions travel to Ibrox to take on last season’s champions Rangers.
Match Report: Calum Brown
Livingston: Barden, Fitzwater (McMillan 65), Obileye, Kelly, Longridge (Penrice 5), Holt (Lewis 65), Pittman, Sibbald, Shinnie (Kabia 32), Montaño, Anderson ( 65)
Subs not used: Stryjek, Parkes, Williamson, Hamilton
Goals: Todd (20 OG), Anderson (38), Sibbald (53)
Cowdenbeath: Gill, Mullen, Clarke (Pollock 85), Todd, C.Barr, Miller (Swann 75), R.Buchanan, Hutton, Renton (Mahady 75), L.Buchanan ▊, B.Barr (Coulson 62)
Subs not used: McGurn, Collins, Glass, Watson
Goals: L.Buchanan (9)
Referee: Steven McLean