Livi’s defence of the Petrofac Training Cup ended in a gallant defeat at Ibrox as Rangers edged through to a home semi-final with St Mirren.
It was a real backs-to-the-wall performance from Mark Burchill’s side as they kept the runaway Championship leaders at bay until late on when Nicky Clark’s long-range effort squirmed through the despairing hands of Marc McCallum for the only goal.
Burchill made two changes to his side from the weekend defeat to St Mirren as Ross Millen and Jordan White came in for Scott Pittman, who was suspended, and Jordyn Sheerin.
Kieran Gibbons was perhaps a bit fortunate to avoid a card inside the first minute when he caught Nathan Oduwa with a late challenge which ref Andrew Dallas penalised with only a foul. Rangers quickly assumed control and captain Lee Wallace was the first to try his luck with a low effort which was deflected into the arms of McCallum.
The home side came even closer when a fine cross from Oduwa was met by a header from James Tavernier which beat McCallum only for Ben Gordon to appear almost from nowhere and hook the ball over the bar for a corner. Livi forced their first half chance on 19 minutes when Gary Glen’s ball into the box found White but he couldn’t adjust his feet and rolled his shot harmlessly wide. Livi skipper Declan Gallagher picked up the games first yellow card shortly after for a foul on Oduwa.
Ex-Livi man Andy Halliday had a half-chance with an effort from distance which bounced through to McCallum before neat play from Jason Holt ended with him feeding the ball to Martyn Waghorn but his touch let him down and McCallum gathered. Nicky Law then passed up a golden chance to break the deadlock on 39 minutes when he was found unmarked in the box but fired high over the bar.
Livi ended the half strongly and Jackson Longridge did well to win the ball from Oduwa and tee up Liam Buchanan but the ex-Alloa man saw his long-range effort held by Foderingham. Buchanan was then inches away from getting on the end of a fine cross from Glen as the teams went in at the break all square.
Half-time: Rangers 0-0 Livingston
Rangers made a half-time change as Clark came on for Oduwa and the hosts were soon on top and McCallum produced a fine block to deny Waghorn as he raced in on goal. Gallagher then made a fine tackle to deny the ex-Wigan striker a clean strike at goal. Substitute Clark then passed up a chance as he was found in the box but couldn’t get the connection he would have wanted and the chance was gone.
Livi finally managed a foray forward just after the hour mark when Faria broke up a Rangers attack and played in White but his long range effort flew high and wide. It was only a brief respite though as McCallum had to be at his best to block an effort from Law before Clark sent the rebound over.
Rangers were becoming increasingly reliant on long-range efforts and Law was unlucky with a thumping effort which fizzed across goal and just wide. It was only a matter of time, though, and Livi’s brave resistance was finally broken on 75 minutes when Clark fired in a low effort from just outside the box which went through Faria’s legs and past the unsighted McCallum, who got a hand to it but couldn’t keep it out.
Burchill responded with his first change as Sheerin came on for Buchanan before making a further double change with five minutes left when Spas Georgiev and Ryan Currie came on for Millen and Glen. It did little to turn the tide, though, and Clark should have made it 2-0 when he was found unmarked but could only send his header wide. Sheerin did force a half-chance with a neat turn in the box but his low effort trundled across goal and wide as Livi’s grip on the Petrofac Training Cup was finally broken and Mark Warburton’s side limped into the last four.
Full-time: Rangers 1-0 Livingston
The Lions return to action on Ladbrokes Championship duty this coming Saturday as they make the trip south to Dumfries to take on Queen of the South at Palmerston. The two sides have enjoyed one away win apiece in the two meetings so far this season, here’s hoping we head back up the M74 celebrating a second success on Saturday night.
Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Wallace, Ball, Law, Oduwa (Clark 45), Halliday, McKay, Holt, Waghorn
Subs not used: Kelly, Miller, , Aird, Hardie, Thompson, Walsh
Livingston: McCallum, Millen (Georgiev 85), Longridge, Gordon, Faria, White, Gallagher, Neill, Gibbons, Buchanan (Sheerin 77), Glen (Currie 86)
Subs not used: Jamieson, Duckrell
Referee: Andrew Dallas
Match Report: Andy Crawford