Livi picked up their first league win of the season as they made it two wins from two visits to Cappielow to continue their encouraging start to life back in the Championship.
David Hopkin’s side returned to Greenock for the second time in the space of 11 days and emerged victorious again thanks to Danny Mullen’s second-half strike.
Hopkin made three changes to the side that lost 3-1 at home to St Mirren the week before as James Penrice came in for his debut along with Nikolay Todorov, a scorer in the Irn Bru Cup win against Jim Duffy’s side earlier in the month, and Alan Lithgow, who returned to the side having suffered an injury in that last meeting. Dale Carrick, Jackson Longridge and Joe Thomson dropped to the bench.
The debutant almost made a dream start when he latched on to Danny Mullen’s flick but his lob was just over the bar and landed on the roof of the net. There was a faint penalty shout for the home side on eight minutes as Jai Quitongo went down under pressure from Keaghan Jacobs but ref Euan Anderson was unmoved.
After Shaun Byrne was brought down 20 yards out, Jacobs stepped up and curled his effort just over the bar. The Lions forced another big chance on 23 minutes when Todorov drove towards goal from the left but he tugged his shot wide of the target. Josh Mullin was next to try his luck three minutes and his fine low effort was kept out by an equally-impressive save from Derek Gaston.
Mullen then came within inches of breaking the deadlock on 28 minutes when he showed excellent composure to beat his man on the right wing before curling a fine effort just wide. Declan Gallagher picked up the first yellow card on the half hour for a foul on the edge of the box but Neil Alexander was equal to the resulting free kick.
The Lions came close again on 35 minutes when a fine cross from Mullen was met by a terrific diving header by Scott Pittman that flew agonisingly wide of the post. Mullin then had another go from distance three minutes later but Gaston was able to save this effort far more comfortably. The home side picked up their first booking on 40 minutes as Doyle was carded for bringing down Mullen but the free kick came to nothing as the sides went in at the break all square.
Half-time: Greenock Morton 0-0 Livingston
The Lions had enjoyed the better of the first half but it was the home side who created the first chance after the restart as Robbie Thomson found space to get in behind the Lions defence on the left hand side but he lost his balance at the key moment and his effort flew high over the bar.
Livi had their first chance two minutes later as Gallagher did well to win the ball before charging down the right and firing in a cross for Todorov whose effort was blocked. Jacobs then did well to win possession and release Mullen but the linesman’s flag was up.
The Lions had Alexander to thank for keeping them on level terms on 55 minutes when Bob McHugh fired in a shot at goal from the right hand side that was met by a fine save. Livi burst up the other end and Todorov broke clear but, under pressure, he fired his shot wide.
The deadlock was broken on the hour mark as, after Lithgow did well to dispossess McHugh and clear, the resulting corner was cleared by Todorov and his ball found its way through to Mullen and he raced clear before coolly slipping the ball under Gaston to give the Lions the lead.
Morton looked for an instant response and Ross Forbes shot wide after a goalmouth scramble before Livi sent on Longridge in place of Penrice on 66 minutes. The home side should have drawn level three minutes later as Quitongo found himself with what looked like a certain goal until Gallagher appeared from nowhere to make an outstanding challenge and clear the danger.
The home side made a double change on 71 minutes as Gary Harkins and Gary Oliver replaced Michael Tidser and McHugh before Byrne was a shown a yellow card for a fierce challenge on Quitongo. The Livi man actually seemed to come off worst in the challenge and was replaced by Joe Thomson shortly after.
After Quitongo fired high over the bar at the back post, Livi made their final change as Raffaele De Vita came on for Todorov before Mullen went into the book for a foul on Doyle. Morton’s final change saw Jonathan Tiffoney replace Forbes with seven minutes left but it had little effect as the Lions held on for their first win back in the Championship.
Full-time: Greenock Morton 0-1 Livingston
Morton: Gaston, Murdoch, O’Ware, Lamie, Doyle, Forbes (Tiffoney 83), Quitongo, Thomson, McHugh (Oliver 72), Tidser (Harkins 71), Russell
Subs not used: Doohan, McManus, Armour, Iredale
Livingston: Alexander, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Mullin, Byrne (Thomson 77), Jacobs, Pittman, Penrice (Longridge 66), Mullen, Todorov (De Vita 79)
Subs not used: Maley, Cadden, Mackin, Carrick
Goals: Mullen (60)
Referee: Euan Anderson
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine