Rory Boulding marked his second debut with a potentially crucial late strike to rescue a point for Livi in their bottom-of-the-table clash with Alloa at the Indodrill Stadium.
Livi seemed destined for a defeat which would have dealt the Lions’ survival hopes a surely-fatal blow before Boulding’s late intervention kept the survival fight interesting ahead of next week’s Petrofac Training Cup Final.
Lions boss Mark Burchill made one change to his side from last week’s agonising home defeat to Dumbarton as Jordan White replaced Danny Mullen and he saw his side start brightly and force a free kick in a dangerous position on the right hand side. Jason Talbot stepped up and whipped in a vicious delivery that fizzed inches past the far post with Craig McDowall well beaten.
Livi forced another chance through good build-up play between White, Ibra Sekajja and Darren Cole which set up Kyle Jacobs but he could only sidefoot his effort over the bar from the edge of the box. An even better chance fell Livi’s way soon after when Craig Sives broke out from defence, played a neat one-two and fired in a low effort which was blocked only to Keaghan Jacobs but he opted to pass and the chance was lost.
Alloa captain Ben Gordon was shown the game’s first yellow card by ref Willie Collum for an awful challenge on Sekajja which forced the Ugandan striker to be substituted with a shoulder injury, Danny Mullen coming on in his place, though not before Sekajja had valiantly attempted to carry on. The final chance of the half fell Livi’s way and what a big chance it was as Talbot swung a corner in from the right and found Kyle unmarked in the six yard box but his downward header bounced up and flew over the bar to ensure the sides went in at the break all-square.
A huge half lay in store for the two sides and Livi nearly made the perfect start to it as Cole worked some space on the right and swung in a fine cross to Mullen but his header was straight at McDowall. Livi’s luck all season was summed up as Alloa went straight up the other end and took the lead as Liam Buchanan fired home. It was almost 2-0 right away as a cross from the right took a huge deflection off Sives and crashed back off the crossbar.
It proved a valuable let-off as Livi showed commendable fighting spirit to draw level almost instantly. A cross from the right caused problems and, after White’s header was blocked by McDowall, the ball cannoned off Gordon and bounced in for the equaliser in a rare moment of good luck for the Lions. Livi almost grabbed a quickfire second as Mullen held the ball up well, created space and curled in a 20-yard effort which crashed agonisingly back off the post.
Livi’s luck turned on them again in sickening fashion shortly after as referee Collum, not for the first time in recent weeks, missed a clear foul which led directly to a goal as, after Darren Jamieson blocked an initial effort, Buchanan reacted quickest to clip the rebound home to restore the Wasps’ lead. Desperate for a reaction Burchill made two quickfire changes, bringing Myles Hippolyte on for Cole before replacing Callum Fordyce with Boulding.
The two quickly made an impact to bring Livi level for a second time with just two minutes to go as Hippolyte’s long throw caused chaos in the home defence and the ball broke to Sives, who fired the ball across goal for Boulding to force it home and give Livi renewed hope. A final big chance could, and perhaps should, have won it for Livi as another Hippolyte throw-in caused more mayhem at the back and Sives was once more on hand to cut the ball back to Mullen but he was leaning back as he got the shot away and he could only send his shot high over the bar.
A point is far from the ideal result for Livi but, when a defeat could have been fatal, to at least have avoided that doomsday scenario means that hope, however faint, still remains of a great escape. Next up for both sides is next week’s reunion in Perth as the two sides go head-to-head in the Petrofac Training Cup Final.