Livingston welcomed Arbroath to the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium for the first time in over 12 years on Saturday and after the demolition job they received, the Lichties surely won't be in any rush to return.
Our first home, competitive match of the new campaign was seen as a potential banana-skin given that Arbroath had taken Dundee to extra-time the week previous. However, with only two minutes on the clock, new signing Rory Boulding had eased some of those nerves. A huge clearance from debutant goalkeeper Andy McNeill appeared seemingly danger-free as it looked to bounce out of play. Boulding thought differently though and after chasing to keep the ball in, the striker cut between two defenders, shifted onto his right foot and fired a strike in off the post from the edge of the area.
Boulding had barely finished celebrating before he got himself involved with goal number two. After latching on to a wayward pass from Keith Gibson, he slipped a terrific through ball to Iain Russell who made no mistake in rolling it through the keeper’s legs and into the net.
Seven minutes gone and it looked like game over already but it was Arbroath who created the next chance at goal. Wide man Josh Falkingham smashed the ball across the goalmouth and player-manager Paul Sheerin bulleted a header goalwards only for McNeill to produce an absolutely unbelievable save to palm off the line and to safety.
Had that header nestled in the net, it could have been a very different game. However, Russell wasn't long in grabbing his second of the game and all but sealing the win only 22 minutes into the match. After Bobby Barr was fouled on the left wing, David Sinclair whipped a low cross into the box and Russell managed to steal a yard on his defender and expertly flicked the ball off his heel and beyond the reach of Darren Hill in the Arbroath goal.
Arbroath still weren't caving in but found McNeill in exceptional form in the Livi goal to deny them yet again. Lee Sibanda turned Paul Watson in the middle of the park and after driving forward he drilled a low shot at goal. McNeill got down well but could only parry across the goalmouth as Sheerin came thundering in. The veteran forward had the goal at his mercy and as he side-footed the ball into the seemingly unguarded net, McNeill threw himself from nowhere to push the ball round the post and cling on to his well deserved clean-sheet.
If the game wasn't already safe at 3-0, Keaghan Jacobs made sure of it shortly after the half-hour mark. Another kick from McNeill was pulled down by Russell who dinked the ball down the flank for Bobby Barr to run on to. The pacy winger only needed one touch to square into the box as Jacobs ran in and knocked the ball home.
It was always going to be difficult for Arbroath to lift themselves in the second half and Livi continued to pile on the pressure. It was, however, in bizarre fashion that the Lions made it 5. A long switch of play from Jacobs was headed back towards his own goal by Sheerin. As goalkeeper Hill rushed to prevent the ball rolling out for the corner, he slipped, gifting Jason Talbot the ball out on the right touch line. The left-back curled an effort at goal and despite it looking as if Sibanda had an easy enough clearance to deal with, the forward seemed to misjudge the bounce of the ball and watched in agony as it rolled past him and into the net.
By this stage it was completely one way traffic and it was no surprise that a sixth goal was soon scored. Kenny Deuchar and Marc McNulty replaced Russell and Boulding and it was those two who linked up for number six. Deuchar dispossessed Falkingham in the middle of the park and rolled the ball into McNulty's path and the young front-man made no mistake as he fired into the top corner to open his account for the season.
The game did end on a sour note though. After battling hard to win back possession in his own half, Keaghan Jacobs knocked the ball past Steven Doris, and as he looked to drive forward, Doris scythed him down, earning himself a straight red card from referee Crawford Allan.
A great team performance from Livi with goals aplenty ensured a safe passage into round two of the Scottish Communities League Cup and rounded off the perfect preparation for our assault on division one.
Livingston: McNeil, Brown, Talbot, Sinclair, C.Barr, Watson, Fox (Ky.Jacobs 79), Kn.Jacobs, Boulding (Deuchar 59), Russell (McNulty 68), B.Barr
Subs not used: Jamieson, Travis
Arbroath: Hill, Baxter, Malcolm, Wedderburn, McAnespie, Gibson (Bryce 46), Falkingham, Kerr (Elfverson 46), Sibanda (Girvan 72), Sheerin, Doris
Subs not used: White, Birse
Ref: C Allan
Match report by Dave Black