Livi recorded a comfortable victory over Stenhousemuir during an afternoon of torrential rain at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
The Lions were unchanged from last week’s starting eleven and began the game at a high tempo. After only 4 minutes, a cross from Crighton found Danny Mullen inside the 6 yard box and his deft flick put Livi 1-0 ahead. The home side continued to control possession and almost doubled their advantage in the 18th minute when Buchanan’s shot was parried by Stenhousemuir goalkeeper McCabe, only for the rebound to be struck high over the bar by Mullen.
The front two exchanged passes a minute later, with Buchanan’s shot taking a deflection for a corner. Shortly afterwards, in the 23rd minute, Livi scored a well-deserved second goal. Scott Pittman found himself outside the penalty area and unleashed a fierce strike from 20 yards into the opposite corner of the net, giving the keeper no chance whatsoever.
If Livi thought that the points were safe, they received a timely reminder in the 25th minute from the visitors that 2-0 is a vulnerable lead. Ex-Lion Colin McMenamin was allowed time and space to work a shot and it took a good save, low at his left post, by Liam Kelly to deny the striker.
HT: Livingston 2-0 Stenhousemuir
Conscious that the home side held the same advantage in the first two games of the season, only to concede an early goal after half-time, the supporters were anxious to avoid a repeat performance. But it was Livi who came out the stronger, starting the second half where they had left off.
Only 4 minutes after the interval, an excellent tackle by Miller in the centre of midfield gave the Lions possession. He found Buchanan, who passed to Pittman and his unerring cross found Mullen lurking in the 6 yard box to score his second of the game to put the home side 3-0 ahead. The striker could, and should, have had his hat trick a short time later but shot over the bar from 18 yards.
Livi’s passing was, at times, superb and a passage of play involving five players almost resulted in a fourth goal for the home team but Byrne’s attempt was easily taken by McCabe in the Stenhousemuir goal. Like the falling rain, Livi’s domination continued. Efforts from Buchanan, Cadden and substitute Watt came to nothing but a fourth goal was only moments away.
In the 78th minute, Jackson Longridge’s low cross-shot, was drilled across the goalmouth and found the back of the net off the inside of the far post. Leading 4-0, and playing added time, some sloppy defending from Livi allowed the visitors to gain possession in the penalty area that resulted in a spot kick being awarded for a foul. The new double-jeopardy law meant that Lithgow only picked up a yellow card for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity.
Colin McMenamin made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Kelly the wrong way, to give Stenhousemuir some consolation with almost the last kick of the game.
The match ended in a comfortable 4-1 win for Livi, who find themselves top of League One after the first 3 games of the season.
Livingston: Kelly, Miiller, Lithgow, Longridge, Halkett, Buchanan (Watt 67), Byrne, Pittman, Cadden (Allan 76), Crighton, Mullen (Orr 80)
Subs not used: Maley, Sinclair, Neill, Mullin
Goals: Mullen (4 & 49), Pittman (23), Longridge (78)
Stenhousemuir: McCabe, McCormack (Sinclair 63), Hamilton, Meechan, Kerr, Berry (Roy 62), Millar, Stirling (Shaw 81), McMenamin, Gilhaney, Cook
Subs not used: Howarth, McRoary, Smith, McMaster
Goals: McMenamin (90 pen)
Referee: Gavin Duncan
Match report: Calum Brown