Livi slid into the Championship relegation zone after a tame second-half performance in losing 1-0 to Alloa at the Indodrill Stadium, a tenth game in a row without a win.
The Lions welcomed back defensive lynchpin Declan Gallagher from a knee injury and he started ahead of Simon Mensing in one of three changes from last week’s Cup defeat at Annan, David Robertson and Danny Mullen also coming in for Myles Hippolyte and Craig Sives, as they went in search of a first 90-minute win since the 4-0 win over Barry Smith’s side way back on 13 September. Jason Talbot regained the captain’s armband despite his absurd outburst at Galabank last week.
It was the hosts who started the brighter though and they claimed for a penalty early on as Kevin Cawley went down but referee Mat Northcroft, who seemed to go out of his way to be the centre of attention throughout the match, was unmoved by his claims. Daryl Meggatt then tried his luck from distance with an effort which Darren Jamieson was able to save comfortably. Talbot then had Livi’s first effort of the match with a swerving strike from the edge of the box which ex-Livi stopper Craig McDowall did well to tip over the bar.
Livi were on top and should have taken the lead on 36 minutes when Gary Glen made a fine run down the left and cut the ball back for Jordan White but his effort flew high over the crossbar. The same two players both came close again soon after as Glen had a shot well saved by McDowall before an Alloa defender blocked White’s follow-up effort. White came closer still with a low effort which was scrambled off the line by Stephen Simmons to ensure the sides went in at the break all-square at 0-0.
Livi had looked the more dangerous side in the first half but, rather than building on their momentum after the break, they found themselves a goal down less than five minutes into the second half as Cawley played the ball through to one-time SPL striker Liam Buchanan and he slipped a low finish beyond Jamieson and into the far corner of the net. Livi were presented with a golden chance to draw level soon after as the ball broke to Danny Mullen inside the box but he could only fire his effort harmlessly wide. They followed that up with a flurry of corners which came to nothing.
Another double chance fell Livi’s way when White knocked the ball down to Mullen and, after his shot was blocked, Glen missed the target with the rebound. Alloa then went up the other end and, for the first of many times throughout the half, saw an effort cleared off the line as Talbot got back to clear Jonathan Tiffoney’s effort after Jamieson was beaten. Burton O’Brien was the next to come to the rescue as he cleared Ben Gordon’s header off the line. Livi then made a double change as Michael McKenna and Mark Burchill replaced Glen and Robertson. Keaghan Jacobs then came close to a fluke goal as his corner almost snuck in before McDowall gathered.
Alloa had another effort cleared off the line as Jason Marr rose to meet a corner but O’Brien was once again in the right place at the right time to clear. Despite late Livi pressure, there was little to threaten McDowall’s goal and it was the Wasps who came closest to scoring again on the counter attack as time ticked down, with both Tiffoney and Buchanan seeing efforts cleared off the line in quick succession.
Livi’s miserable afternoon was completed when the returning Gallagher was shown a straight red card for something said to the overly-precious far-side linesman as Alloa climbed to seventh and sent Livi into the relegation play-off spot. The upcoming games against relegation rivals Dumbarton and Cowdenbeath now take on yet more significance for John McGlynn as he battles desperately to halt the Lions’ alarming slide.
Alloa: 2 Tiffoney, 4 Gordon, 5 Meggatt, 6 Simmons, 7 Cawley (Hetherington 90), 10 Holmes (Docherty 45), 12 Weatherston (McCord 71), 15 Marr, 17 Doyle, 19 Buchanan, 21 McDowall
Subs not used: 11 Ferns, 20 Asghar, GK Couser
Livingston: 1 Jamieson, 3 Talbot, 5 Fordyce, 6 Ky.Jacobs, 7 Kn.Jacobs, 8 O’Brien (Hippolyte 82), 10 Robertson (Burchill 71), 14 Gallagher, 18 White, 19 Glen (McKenna 71), 20 Mullen
Subs not used: 2 Sives, 15 Praprotnik, 16 Beaumont, 21 Grant
Referee: Mat Northcroft
Match report: James Lothian