Livingston’s lacklustre cup form continued into another season as Third Division Annan Athletic sent the Lions crashing out of the Ramsden’s cup at the first hurdle. A 74th minute goal from substitute Graeme Bell was enough to see the home side through to the next round.
The first half was an even affair, with Annan dominating possession without particularly testing Andy McNeil or his young defence. Meanwhile man of the match Alex Mitchell kept the score even with some highly impressive saves at the other end.
Mitchell’s first great save came just five minutes in, Marc McNulty, turned the defence and sent a 20 yard shot in which the keeper did well to tip over the cross bar. Annan’s first significant attack came from Graeme Ramage, but the forward was ruled offside, though McNeil proved equal to his shot anyway.
Though Annan saw the most of the ball, Livingston continued to threaten the home goal. Marc McNulty back footed an effort into the keeper’s hands from a Bobby Barr cross. Tony Andreu, making his competitive debut, was next threaten, but was defended in the goalmouth after Barr played him in.
It was Mitchell to the rescue again for Annan, saving two quick shots by McNulty inside the box. The Annan central defence was next to thwart the Livingston attack, sliding the ball away from the feet Iain Russell - on as a substitute for injured Keaghan Jacobs – who was advancing on a well-placed cross from Kevin McCann.
Calum Fordyce, having moved into central defence to cover for suspended Craig Barr, pulled off a great tackle to prevent Michael Daly getting off a shot just in front of goal, before Annan passed up a good chance seconds later.
The afternoon didn’t look to be going Livingston’s way as Russell missed a golden opportunity to put the Lions ahead, sending a header at the back post just wide.
Just past the half hour mark, Annan began to creep back into the game, with a dangerous corner by Ramage being tipped wide by McNeil.
As half time approached young Livi defender, Connor McDonald, sent in a dangerous cross, which McNulty sent over the cross bar with a header. Moments later, Scott Chaplain sent a similar effort over the Livi goal.
Livingston opened brightly in the second half, with Russell the first to test the keeper with a soft shot from a tight angle, but the keeper had no problem denying the experience Livi striker.
Bobby Barr then sent a dangerous cross straight across the face of goal which any touch at all would have sent straight into the net, but only trundled out for a goal kick. A few minutes later Jordan Morton, also making his competitive debut, tried his luck with a 20 yard effort which was deflected out for a corner.
Livingston continued to threaten without really testing, Morton sending in a free kick which was easily cleared to Russell and back out to Morton whose shot was comfortably held by the keeper.
Morton’s form continued as he set up McNulty, whose shot was comfortably held by Mitchell and cleared quickly.
Livi defender Paul Watson passed up the best opportunity of the game to score, finding himself at the back post with a free header from a corner, the centre back glanced his effort wide of the post.
Livingston were to rue their missed chances as substitute Graeme Bell send a thundering long range shot straight past the Livi defence and Andy McNeil into the back of the net.
Iain Russell had a chance to draw the score level in added time, sending a volley from a McCann cross wide without even testing the keeper.
Livingston fans went home disappointed as the thought of another cup run was thwarted at an early stage. The fans and team will be hoping to see improvements at next week’s meeting with Stranraer (4th August).
Mitchell, Blake, Thorburn, Swinglehurst, McGowan, McKechnie, Love (Bell 62), Chaplain, Daly (McGachie 76), Ramage (Steele 62), Murray.
Subs not used: Jardine, Summersgill
McNeil, McCann, McDonald, Watson, Fordyce, Andreu, B.Barr (Downie 78), Kn.Jacobs (I.Russell 24), McNulty, Scougall, Morton (Beaumont 75).
Subs not used: Docherty, Hurst
Referee: Paul Robertson
Official Attendance: 572
Match report: Chris Naismith