After the injury-time win against Partick Thistle, Gary Bollan welcomed Raith Rovers to the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium for our second home fixture in a row.
After serving his suspension against Partick following his red-card in Dingwall, Paul Watson was drafted back into the starting team with Ross Docherty dropping out.
Raith started the match brightly and had the first chance of the game. Craig Barr’s clearance from William Dyer’s cross only went as far as Grant Murray but his long-range effort was easily held by McNeill.
After only 18 minutes, a familiar site to Livi fans was to occur again as Raith were reduced to ten men. Dougie Hill miscontrolled a ball forward from Johnny Brown and as he stretched to claim the ball back, he fouled Kyle Jacobs. Referee Willie Collum deemed the tackle to be worthy of a red-card and sent the defender off.
This didn’t seem to hamper the flow of play and Raith continued to dominate. Ex-Livi midfielder Joe Hamill was causing a lot of trouble in the middle of the park and was unlucky to see his 18-yard effort deflect wide for a corner after some good footwork on the edge of the area. His next effort was even closer, this time shooting just over the bar from 25 yards after a good knock down from John Baird.
Livi’s first real chance of note came late in the first-half. A high ball forward from Jason Talbot was headed down by Craig Barr but Kyle Jacobs didn’t connect well enough with his effort and could only watch as his shot flew wide of the post. This proved to be the last chance of a rather uneventful, red-card aside, first-half but Bollan would have been determined to see his players make the most of yet another one man advantage.
Hamill, again, was first to have a shot at goal in the second-half, collecting Liam Fox’s slack pass but his tame shot was gathered by McNeill. Fox nearly made amends for that misplaced pass as he himself had a crack at goal. Some good link-up play between Deuchar and Russell saw the latter chest the ball into Fox’s path, but his shot was beaten away by David McGurn in the Raith goal. From the resultant corner, the Lions really should have taken the lead. Bobby Barr’s cross found Craig Barr unmarked at the back-post but the big defender headed over when he really should have hit the target.
It looked as this stage as if Livi were really starting to take a hold of the game as another shot, this time from Iain Russell, was palmed over the bar by McGurn. This time, the resulting corner found Paul Watson unmarked in the box but McGurn dived well to his left to push away the downward header and prevent the goal.
Within minutes of each other, Jason Talbot and Liam Fox both sent Bobby Barr and Iain Russell free down the left but neither could take their chances with Barr firing straight at the ‘keeper and Russell trying to play in Scougall but over hitting his pass.
As so often proves to be the case in football though, if you don’t take your chances, they come back to haunt you. Completely against the run of play, Raith grabbed the lead. Some brilliant football saw Reece Donaldson find Allan Walker at the back-post, and he headed the ball down to Brain Graham who made no mistake, flicking the ball past the outstretched arm of McNeil.
In a bid to make sure Livi got something out of the game, Bollan threw on Marc McNulty in place of the tiring Deuchar, a decision which was to prove spot on from the manager. Some determined fighting on the edge of the Raith 18-yard box from, believe it or not, centre-back pairing Barr and Watson, saw the ball loop into the air. Stefan Scougall threw himself into its path which resultantly broke to Russell, whose tame effort goalwards deflected into the path of McNulty, and the prolific youngster smashed the ball into the ground, over McGurn and in off the bar.
The equaliser spurned Livi back into the game and Craig Barr had another chance to grab his first-goal of the season. Fox’s corner from the left found him in the middle of the 6 yard box but McGurn again made a terrific block on the line to stop the goal. Bobby Barr was then unlucky with a 25 yard drive which fizzled just wide but had McGurn scrambling.
However, despite this pressure, Raith really should have taken the lead with only minutes to go. Fox slipped in the middle of the park while in possession and gifted the ball to Walker. He broke forward playing the ball into Graham but Watson, Jacobs and Talbot all recovered well to get back and stop the attack.
The last chance of the game fell to Kyle Jacobs. Fox rolled the ball into him all of 40 yards from goal and he didn’t think twice before lashing the ball goal wards but another 90th minute winner wasn’t to be as his effort flew high of McGurn’s goal.
Livingston: McNeil, Brown (Boulding 79), C.Barr, Watson, Talbot, Ky.Jacobs, Fox, Scougall, B.Barr, Russell, Deuchar (McNulty 65)
Subs not used: Jamieson, Gray, Docherty
Raith Rovers: McGurn, Donaldson, Hill, Murray, Dyer, Davidson (Williamson 78), Ellis, Walker, Hamill, Graham (Reynolds 90), Baird (Thomson 81)
Subs not used: White, McBride
Ref: W Collum
Match report by Dave Black