The Scottish Cup failed to provide respite from Livi’s recent league woes as they suffered an embarrassing defeat at League Two Annan Athletic in the Third Round.
Despite making a strong start and taking an early lead through Keaghan Jacobs, Livi failed to build on it and the bottom-tier side stormed back to book their place in with the big guns in round four.
The Lions started strongly and for the opening 15 minutes it was one way traffic with Annan forced to defend deeper and deeper. They didn’t have to wait long for a reward as Keaghan Jacobs broke the deadlock in the 12th minute with a superb low shot to round of a well-worked move. Livi should have built on their early momentum and taken the game away from their lower-league opponents but instead they allowed the Galabankies back into things within ten minutes as Peter Weatherson curled a fine free-kick into the bottom corner from fully 30 yards to square things up. The momentum switched almost instantly and the home side were suddenly well on top
Peter Watson was proving a threat from the wide areas and swung in a dangerous cross soon after the goal which prompted a flurry of corners, from one of which Lions keeper Darren Jamieson had to be alert to tip over to prevent David Hopkirk’s cross from going straight in. Watson then came close with a header from Stuart McColm’s cross which flew just past the post.
Annan’s increasing dominance eventually paid off with a goal that Jamieson will quickly want to forget. Steven Sloan fed Martin McNiff down the left and his cross was met by Weatherson whose header should have been meat and drink for the Livi no.1 but he allowed it to squirm through his hands and into the net. The error prompted a disgusting reaction from Lions vice-captain Jason Talbot who, rather than offer encouragement to Jamieson, chose instead to shove his keeper while berating him in the process.
Livi attempted to respond before the break and almost grabbed an equaliser as Gary Glen blasted in a shot which was destined for the top corner but for a tremendous save from Annan keeper Alex Mitchell.
The Lions looked to maintain their momentum as the second half got underway and, after a corner broke to the edge of the box, Keaghan curled in an effort which flew comfortably over the bar. Annan continued to offer more in the way of a threat, though, with Hopkirk particularly dangerous and it was he who fashioned the next chance with an effort from inside the box which flew over the bar. McColm then tried his luck with a low effort which Jamieson did well to tip over for a corner. There was a huge let off for the home side on 56 minutes, though, as Myles Hippolyte appeared to run from behind the last defender to head home only for it to be inexplicably ruled out for offside.
It proved a crucial moment as just two minutes later Annan opened up a two-goal cushion. After his first-half double, Weatherson turned provider as he flicked on a long through-ball to McColm and he got a run on the returning Simon Mensing before firing a fine low effort into the bottom corner from distance. The home side almost bagged a fourth soon after as Weatherson missed out on his hat-trick when he headed a McColm cross over the bar.
Livi upped their game in the final ten minutes and put the hosts’ goal under intense pressure, forcing several corners. Eventually they got some reward as Danny Mullen prodded the ball home from close range after a scramble in the goalmouth. As Livi poured forward in search of an equaliser they left themselves vulnerable on the counter-attack and Annan almost sealed it with an angled drive from Hopkirk which cannoned off the crossbar.
In the end it was too little, too late for Livi as the League Two side advanced to the Fourth Round for the first-time in their history. Livi were left to rue failing to make the most of their early dominance as they slumped to a ninth game without a win (excluding penalty shootouts) and they now head into a crucial run of fixtures against the three sides around them in the league at a low ebb.
Annan: 1 Mitchell, 2 Black, 3 Chisholm, 4 McNiff, 5 Watson, 6 Sloan, 7 Flynn, 8 Logan, 9 Weatherson (Todd 80), 10 Hopkirk, 11 McLom
Subs not used: 12 Brannon, 14 Davidson, 15 McStay, 17 Omar, 18 Wood, 21 Murray
Livingston: 1 Jamieson, 2 Sives, 3 Talbot, 4 Mensing (Mullen 64), 5 Fordyce, 6 Ky.Jacobs, 7 Kn.Jacobs (McKenna 64), 8 O'Brien, 11 Hippoloyte (Robertson 73), 18 White, 19 Glen
Subs not used: 14 Gallagher, 16 Beaumont, 21 Grant, 27 Burchill
Referee: Euan Anderson
Match report: James Lothian