Livingston increased their lead at the top of the second division table with a surprisingly comfortable victory over title challengers Ayr United. Goals from Bobby Barr, Kenny Deuchar and Liam Fox ensured the points returned to the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium.
The first half was an even encounter with both sides having multiple opportunities to open the scoring, but neither having any great chances.
Kyle Jacobs, one of three starting Jacobs brothers, was the first to have a chance with a run down the left, knocked away by the advancing keeper, David Crawford. However, it wasn’t long until Ayr responded with Mark Roberts sending a dangerous ball across the goalmouth, but there were no takers much to the relief of the visitors.
Livingston, once again, came close to opening in the scoring 12 minutes into the match, an accurate shot from Keaghan Jacobs was successfully held by busy Crawford.
Ayr were next to have a chance. Ryan McCann’s effort from the right and edge of the 6 yard box, was comfortably held by Lions keeper Tony Bullock.
Deuchar perhaps had the best chance of the opening 45. After two corners by Joe Hamill, Keaghan Jacobs pinpoint cross saw a spectacular overhead kick by the Livi striker unlucky to crash off the bar and out for a goal kick.
Ayr should then have opened the scoring not long after, with Michael Moffat missing an open goal. Minutes later, Bullock pulled of a vital save to deny Roberts in a 1-on-1.
Impressive midfielder, Kyle Jacobs came close again, with a well controlled shot unlucky to be straight at the United keeper.
Ayr’s Jonathon Tiffoney had the last attempt of the half, seeing the ball go just over the bar from a long range shot.
The second half opened brightly, with Bobby Barr coming close to opening the scoring just seconds after the whistle, seeing his shot stunningly saved by Crawford after some excellent play by Iain Russell.
Ayr United came close again: a corner from the opposite side of the box, ending up from a great shot resulting in a good save by Tony Bullock.
The visiting support were not made to wait long though, with Bobby Barr finding himself in the right place at the right time to get on the end of a perfect cross from Iain Russell and put it comfortably past Crawford, doubling his goal tally for the season.
Twelve minutes later, the Lions doubled their advantage, a Keaghan Jacobs cross was nodded on by Iain Russell for the towering Kenny Deuchar to head into the back of the net.
Kyle Jacobs once again came close to scoring, with an excellent long range shot, failing to result in a goal.
There were furious cries from the Ayr support with 14mins to go, calling for Bullock to be sent off for an apparent handling of the ball outside his box, but play was waved on by referee Iain Brines.
The two substitutes Robbie Winters and Liam Fox combined successfully to make it 3-0. Winters ran brilliantly down the right hand side, sending an excellent cross into Liam Fox who volleyed the ball brilliantly into the back of the net, in what has to be a contender for goal of the year.
There were late calls for a penalty by the United fans, with cries of handball, but these again were waved away by the referee.
This was a comfortable victory for the Lions, over the side that hammered us so successfully earlier in the season. There were chances for both sides, but it was the boys from Livingston that got the goals and took the points in a crucial victory in the challenge for the 2nd Division title. The games come thick and fast over the coming weeks, with two home games this week. Two great victories in a week, manager Gary Bollan will have to make sure the teams carries on in a similar manner.
Ayr United: Crawford, Tiffoney (Easton 63), Malone, Lauchlan, Smith, Robertson, McCann, McLaughlin, Bannigan (Rodgers 65), Moffat, Roberts
Subs Not Used: McWilliams, Woodburn, Kelly
Livingston: Bullock, C.Barr, Hamill, D.Jacobs, Talbot, Ky.Jacobs (Cowan 86), Watson, Kn.Jacobs, B.Barr (Winters 83), Russell, Deuchar (Fox 75)
Subs Not Used: McDowall, De Vita
Report: Chris Naismith