The ‘free weekend’ that we allegedly had after the 3-0 loss up in Dingwall turned out to be busier than a normal match day. With Gary Bollan and Scott Paterson being relieved of their duties, Brian Welsh was handed the reigns for the visit of Partick Thistle.
A last gasp Kyle Jacobs strike was enough to seal the three points the last time Thistle came calling and Welsh set out his stall in attempt to complete the double over the Glasgow side here at the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium. Bobby Barr and Marc McNulty were restored to the starting line-up along with Ross Docherty, whose only other start this season was in that 2-1 win last time round. This meant that Iain Russell dropped to the bench, Rory Boulding took a seat in the stand and of course Maurice Ross had since left the club.
The opening stages saw both sides go close in what was a very even period of play. Marc McNulty forced ‘keeper Scott Fox into miskicking a pass-back but luckily for the Jags, Scott Robertson made a block before Liam Fox could capitalise on the error. Down the other end, Kyle Jacobs’ slack pass gifted Chris Erskine possession and he rifled a shot goalwards, which clipped the top of the bar with McNeil beaten. Erskine came close again moments later as he jinked between Craig Barr and Liam Fox before firing a shot away but Paul Watson made the block before getting the ball clear.
Half chances went begging from both teams before Livingston did take the lead. Bobby Barr tracked back and dispossessed Stuart Bannigan in the Livi penalty box before driving forward and switching the play to Keaghan Jacobs. Jacobs beat his man before returning the ball to Barr who slipped in Stefan Scougall to shoot at goal. And when Fox could only parry his effort, Marc McNulty was on hand to roll the ball home from a tight angle. With only six minutes remaining until the interval, it was a great time for the Lions to grab a goal and one that was enjoyed by the all players as they all rushed to celebrate with McNulty.
Into the second-half and anyone who’d got stuck in the pie queue for their half-time refreshments would have missed the home side doubling the lead. Bobby Barr’s corner from the left was met by Paul Watson who rose highest to head the ball beyond Fox and claim his first goal of the season. He did pick up a booking for his celebration though, lifting his top to reveal a thank you message aimed at Bollan and Paterson.
Hopefully anyone who did miss the second goal had managed to get back to his or her seat shortly after as it was only 5 minutes later when Livi grabbed goal number three. Ross Docherty’s headed clearance was met by Scougall who nodded the ball wide to Bobby Barr. The winger used his skill and pace to break down the right wing before squaring the ball to Kyle Jacobs who stroked a fine 25-yard effort in off the post. It was another super strike from Jacobs who, as previously mentioned, put Thistle to the sword with a cracking goal earlier in the season too.
With confidence high and the game all but sealed, the Lions were able to relax and play some flowing football. A clearance from Paul Watson was picked up by Barr who played a brilliant one-two with Scougall and found himself beyond the Thistle back-line and one-on-one with Fox but he could only shoot straight at the ‘keeper when you’d have put money on him to make it four. He did collect the rebound before playing in Kyle Jacobs but his shot trundled wide of the goal.
Kyle and Keaghan then linked up in the middle of the park with the latter slipping an excellent pass through to Barr but Fox was again equal to his effort and parried the thunderbolt out for corner.
As the game neared an end, the Lions could be accused of turning off slightly and this allowed Thistle a couple of late chances. Craig Barr misjudged Fox’s high kick, allowing Kris Doolan to get in behind the defence but when he squared to Christie Elliot, the striker wasn’t quick enough to react and Paul Watson was able to get make the block before Elliot got a shot away.
Bobby Barr had another chance to make it four as he drove forward with the ball, leaving three Partick defenders trailing behind him but it just wasn’t to be his day for getting a goal as Fox made the save again.
That chance actually lead to Thistle going up the park and nicking a late consolation goal. After Barr’s shot was cleared, the ball was eventually worked out wide and when a deep cross was headed back across goal by Doolan, Paul Cairney was on hand to drill a low shot past McNeil.
The Livi defence would have been disappointed to concede a goal so late after such a solid performance throughout the game but nothing could be taken away from the side as they closed out a fantastic victory and celebrated a first win of 2012.
McNeil, McNeil, Docherty, Talbot, Watson, C.Barr, Ky.Jacobs, B. Barr, Fox (Cummings 81), McNulty (I.Russell 70), Scougall (Easton 89), Kn.Jacobs
Subs not used: Fordyce, Jamieson
Fox, O'Donnell, Paton, Robertson, Cole Cairney, Welsh (Naismith 63), Rowson (Elliot 46), Bannigan (Griffin 56), Voolan, Erskine
Subs not used: Scully, Stewart
Ref: S Conroy
Match report by Dave Black