Livi missed the chance to cut the deficit on the sides above them as they slipped to a fourth consecutive defeat against Queen of the South, who enjoyed their first win over the Lions in five attempts this season.
With Alloa and Cowdenbeath both suffering defeats, a Lions win would have moved them within three points of the Blue Brazil at the foot of the table and they looked on course to achieve it with a dominant start to the second half, only for late double salvo to instead hand victory to Queens.
Livi made a decent start to the match and had a strong shout for a penalty inside two minutes when Danny Mullen was brought down just inside the box but referee Greg Aitken, with the first of several baffling decisions, chose to wave play on. Both sides forced a few corners without any real pressure on each other’s goalkeeper as the game swung from end-to-end but it was another ten minutes before another real chance came along and it came the way of Livi as Jordan White took advantage of a defensive mix-up to go clean through but the angle quickly narrowed and Queens keeper Zander Clark was able to gather at the second attempt.
The home side created and wasted a golden chance barely a minute later as a low cross from the right found Gavin Reilly unmarked but he could only send his header high over the bar when it seemed easier to hit the target. Mark Durnan then passed up a decent chance when he rose highest at a corner but could only loop his header across goal and wide. Queens were building up a head of steam by now and Reilly muscled Declan Gallagher off the ball and squared for Derek Lyle who saw his effort from the edge of the box well blocked by Simon Mensing.
Gary Glen passed up a big chance to break the deadlock for Livi as he went clean through down the left but, in trying to find a better shooting angle, he ran right across the Queens box before eventually conceding a foul. Callum Fordyce then dispossessed ex-teammate Iain Russell on the right and swung in a fine cross which White rose to meet but he couldn’t get enough power on the header and it flew well wide. Queens broke straight up the other end and Reilly was released by a fine ball over the top but his shot flew across goal and wide.
It proved only a momentary let-off for the Lions as Queens broke the deadlock two minutes later when the Lions defence failed to heed previous warnings and left Andy Dowie unmarked at a corner and he bulleted a header into the top corner despite Darren Jamieson getting a hand to it. Livi tried to mount a response and Burton O’Brien swung in a free kick which Gallagher did well to flick on but Clark was out sharply to collect. Livi were then forced into their first change as Gary Glen, who had picked up a knock a short while earlier, was replaced by David Robertson.
The game had seemed set to peter out through to half-time before Livi equalised out of nowhere as Durnan badly misjudged a header back to Clark and White was alert to flick a header over the advancing keeper and into the net to send the teams in at the break all-square, though not before Russell had picked up the game’s first yellow card for a reckless challenge on Hippolyte.
Livi started the second half strongly and somehow failed to go in front five minutes after the restart when White broke through down the left and sent a fine ball across to Mullen but, from barely a yard out, the youngster managed only to divert the ball against the post and wide. Queens keeper Clark came off worst in the scramble and had to be replaced by Jim Atkinson. White was the provider again soon after, this time finding Hippolyte but the Englishman’s shot took a big deflection and looped onto the roof of the net. Despite their dominance, Livi almost shot themselves in the foot from a set-piece again as Dowie was again left unmarked but this time he could only head high over the crossbar. The Lions then headed straight up the other end and passed up another massive chance as Hippolyte sent a fine low cross in to White but the big striker’s effort was straight at Atkinson. White was off target again soon after as he met a fine Mullen cross from the right but again didn’t get enough on it and it drifted wide.
Livi were eventually punished for their wastefulness as Queens regained the lead when Reilly broke clear down the left and cut the ball across goal to the unmarked Lyle and the veteran hitman had an easy tap-in to make it 2-1. There appeared to be a clear foul on Robertson in the build-up but referee Aitken chose not to give it. The loss of the goal rocked Livi but they responded well and White was played clear down the left but the angle was too tight and his effort was blocked by Atkinson’s legs.
Queens were enjoying more pressure as Livi committed men forward in search of the equaliser and Lewis Kidd came close to a third when he curled a free kick just over the bar before Reilly broke clean through but saw his effort blocked by Jamieson before Shaun Rutherford cleared the ball off the line. Only a good advantage played by the referee spared Mensing a red card as he held back Reilly before he wriggled free to get the shot away. Once again it proved only a brief let-off for Livi as the killer third goal arrived shortly after when Livi surrendered possession in their own half and the ball found its way through to Russell who coolly slotted the ball past the advancing Jamieson and into the net.
Livi responded by making their second change as Rob Ogleby replaced Hippolyte and he quickly got involved in the action but his tame header following a goalmouth scramble was comfortably held by Atkinson. Queens nearly bagged a fourth as a weak defensive header from Robertson dropped to Russell and he curled in a fine effort from outside the box which fizzed just wide. It proved to be the last action of note in the match as Queens secured a first win in four games, leaving Livi adrift at the bottom.
Next up for the Lions is a crucial home double-header against Alloa and Cowdenbeath. Anything less than six points from those two games will leave our survival hopes hanging by a thread.
QoS: 1 Clark (Atkinson 52), 3 Holt, 4 Dowie, 5 Durnan, 6 Higgins, 10 Reilly, 11 Russell (Dzierzawski 88), 12 Kidd, 17 Carmichael, 18 McShane, 19 Lyle (Paton 78)
Subs not used: 9 Baird, 22 Hooper, 24 Smith, 28 Pickard
Livingston: 1 Jamieson, 4 Mensing, 5 Fordyce, 6 Ky.Jacobs, 8 O'Brien (Praprotnik 87), 11 Hippolyte (Ogleby 76), 14 Gallagher, 18 White, 19 Glen (Robertson 35), 20 Mullen, 31 Rutherford
Subs not used: 2 Sives, 16 Beaumont, 17 McKenna, 21 Grant
Referee: Greg Aitken
Match report: James Lothian