It was a case of ‘after the lord mayor’s show’ for Livi as they followed up their biggest win of the season with a disappointing home defeat to Raith Rovers.
Rovers had suffered a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Rangers the week before and arrived in West Lothian determined to bounce back, though in the end they were perhaps fortunate to leave with all three points.
Livi started the match strongly and came close inside two minutes when Burton O’Brien curled in a free kick which Ross Laidlaw did well to tip over. Kyle Jacobs then passed up a golden chance to give the Lions the lead on nine minutes when Jason Talbot’s corner found him unmarked but he could only head the ball wide of target.
Despite Livi’s strong start it was Rovers who took the lead on 18 minutes as one of the many former Lions in Grant Murray’s side came back to haunt his former club. Martin Scott took advantage of a fortunate bounce in the box to prod the ball home and followed it up with a classless celebration in front of the fans who used to chant his name. Raith were boosted by the goal and came close to a second when Kevin Moon dragged a volleyed effort wide.
Livi continued to threaten and came within inches of an equaliser on the half-hour mark when David Robertson ran in behind the Rovers defence but fired his shot inches wide. Kyle then set up Gary Glen but he could only head wide on the stretch as Livi went in at the break a goal down.
The Lions continued to push forward as the second half got underway and good link-up play between Glen and Jordan White ended with Glen firing a shot into a crowd of Rovers defenders. Livi made their first change soon after as Myles Hippolyte took the place of Michael McKenna. Rovers then passed up a golden chance to put the game to bed as Darren Jamieson became Livi’s penalty hero once again. The award was soft as Christian Nade made the most of minimal contact from Lions defender Craig Sives but justice was done as Jamieson sprung to his right to deny Calum Elliot with a spectacular save – his EIGHTH from thirteen penalties faced in his career!
Boosted by the penalty let-off, Livi surged forward in search of an equaliser and came close when White flicked a header on to the roof of the net. Raith continued to threaten on the counter though and Elliot fired wide after good build-up play from Nade down the right. Ryan Conroy then curled a free kick inches wide after ref Bobby Madden had made another bizarre decision to penalise Talbot for handball. Mark Burchill then came on in place of Robertson as Livi went for broke.
Burchill was quickly involved in the action as he burst down the right and whipped a fine ball in to Glen, but the ex-Hearts man’s control let him down and the ball rolled harmlessly out of play. Elliot then brought the curtain down on another lamentable display as he was replaced by Mark Stewart. Raith sub Barrie McKay wasted a golden chance to kill the game off soon after as he lashed a shot high over the bar with only Jamieson to beat.
Livi continued to press and Burchill did well to flick the ball on to White but his shot flew wide. Keaghan then caught Scott in possession in midfield and fed Burchill but the Livi frontman’s shot was held by Laidlaw. Burchill was involved again soon after as he drove at the Rovers defence and fired in a piledriver which sailed over the bar. Burchill and Keaghan then linked up to feed the Hippo but his shot was held by Laidlaw.
The Lions’ final change saw Rob Ogleby replace Glen, and he was straight into action as he did well to keep the ball in at the byline and whipped in a fine cross which Burchill could only head wide.
As Livi poured men forward, Raith hit on the counter and Talbot produced a fine last-ditch challenge to deny Stewart a killer second. White then passed up Livi’s final chance as he met a long ball from Burchill but could only head straight at Laidlaw. The final chance of the match fell to Rovers as Stewart ran clean through on the counter but couldn’t find a way past Jamieson who produced a stunning one-handed stop to ensure that Rovers left West Lothian with only a single-goal win.
Livi could probably consider themselves unlucky not to have claimed a point but at the same time they failed to test Rovers keeper Laidlaw enough on a frustrating afternoon for the Lions.
Livingston: 1 Jamieson, 2 Sives, 3 Talbot, 5 Fordyce, 6 Ky.Jacobs, 7 Kn.Jacobs, 8 O'Brien, 10 Robertson (Burchill 71), 17 McKenna (Hippolyte 56), 18 White, 19 Glen (Ogleby 80)
Subs not used: 16 Beaumont, 20 Mullen, 21 Grant, 31 Rutherford
Raith Rovers: 17 Laidlaw, 2 Thomson, 4 Watson, 23 McKeown, 24 Ellis, 6 Fox, 8 Moon (McKay 61), 11 Scott, 14 Conroy, 10 Elliot (Stewart 74), 27 Nade (Callachan 90)
Subs not used: 7 Anderson, 12 , 16 Vaughan, 20 McGurn, 32 Bates
Referee: Bobby Madden
Match report: Andrew Crawford