Livi endured a miserable afternoon at the Falkirk Stadium as the Bairns ran riot to secure an emphatic victory, as the Lions suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since August.
After an impeccably observed minute’s silence in memory of our country’s fallen war heroes, it was Livi who were first to threaten and looked impressive coming down their right flank, with a couple of early crosses causing difficulties in the Falkirk box before ultimately being cleared to safety. Both sides had early goals disallowed for infringements before a sickening collision between Coll Donaldson and Falkirk’s Steven Kingsley saw a lengthy delay for treatment to both players, with Donaldson eventually replaced by Kyle Wilkie.
It was a very scrappy affair with both sides knowing the importance of three points in this incredibly tight Scottish Championship. With half an hour gone, both sets of supporters would have been reasonably pleased with their side’s showing although there had been few direct shots on goal. Falkirk’s Jay Fulton should have scored after 35 minutes when Pip Roberts cut in beautifully from the right after a powerful run and cut the ball back to him but his placed shot slid wide of the left hand post.
With Falkirk slowly gaining control, it seemed only a matter of time before they took the lead and it eventually happened on 36 minutes when Livi skipper Simon Mensing was penalised for a foul on Roberts and, from the resulting free kick, the ball broke to Will Vaulks six yards out and he made no mistake to send Falkirk in 1-0 up at the break.
Livi came out for the second half looking to get back into the game but instead it was the home side that came out stronger and more determined to put the game to bed. It didn’t take them long to do so either as they doubled their lead less than ten minutes into the second half. After going close with a low strike minutes earlier, former Rangers youngster Rory Loy took advantage of hesitation in the Livi defence to fire home from close range.
Livi were rattled and Falkirk smelled blood and should have well and truly killed the game a few minutes later when Loy turned provider for Fulton, but his attempt at the spectacular ended well wide of the goal with Jamieson helpless. That was a let-off for Livi but it was only a brief reprieve as the rampant hosts killed the game on the hour. Connor McGrandles drove at the visitors’ defence and teed up Craig Sibbald who slammed a fine low drive into the corner of the net.
With the cushion of a three goal lead, Falkirk turned on the champagne football and Livi had no answer to the skill and youthful exuberance of Gary Holt’s side. The inevitable fourth game with 20 minutes left as Roberts, Loy and Fulton combined well to set up Loy who slammed in his second and the home side’s fourth. Livi had offered very little threat but did pull a goal back, albeit with a fair degree of fortune as a defensive scramble saw the ball squirm in off the luckless Vaulks, who achieved the rare feat of scoring at both ends.
A sobering afternoon then for Livi, and one which saw hopes of leapfrogging the Bairns into fourth place end with a five-point deficit in the race for the play-offs as the Lions slipped into the bottom half of the Championship table ahead of a crucial run of games against the sides around the bottom end of the league table.
Falkirk: McGovern, Duffie, McCracken, Vaulks, Kingsley, Fulton (Flynn 83), Millar, McGrandles, Sibbald (Alston 80), Roberts (Bingham 76), Loy
Subs not used: Bowman, Durojaiye, Dick, Grant
Livingston: Jamieson, Talbot, Mensing, Fordyce, Scott, Jacobs, O'Brien, McNulty (Mullen 74), Scougall (McDonald 74), Donaldson (Wilkie 19), Barrowman
Subs not used: Walker, Beaumont, Praprotnik, Lander
Referee: Euan Anderson
Match report: Andrew Crawford