The Lions made 6 changes from the team that secured their title winning victory against Alloa last weekend. Craig Halkett, Declan Gallagher, Josh Mullin, Shaun Byrne, Raffaele De Vita and Danny Mullen all missed out.
There were rare starts for Jordan Sinclair and Matthew Knox, whilst Keaghan Jacobs returned to the Livingston starting eleven for the first time since his returning for a second spell at the club. There were also places in the starting eleven for Mark Millar, Nicky Cadden and Nikolay Todorov, who surprisingly started at centre back, as opposed to his usual position of striker. Scott Pittman captained the Lions for the first time.
The Livi faithful continued to be in full voice after last weekend’s celebrations, and the visitors started the more comfortable of the two sides. A half chance fell to last week’s goalscorer Scott Pittman who sent his shot over the bar, after the ball fell to him from a corner.
The Number 8 was not afraid to have a go following last Saturday’s goal of the season contender but this particular effort was less accurate. The best chance of the first half fell to the hosts, as Stenhousemuir cut open the Livingston back three. Alan Cook found himself one-on-one with Liam Kelly, but The Lions’ keeper rushed out quickly to prevent The Warriors from taking the lead. It was a let-off for Livi and ensured that they would not be allowed to be complacent against the League’s bottom side.
Jordan Sinclair was next to try his luck for the visitors, but his volley was met by Bowman in the Stenhousemuir goal who held comfortably. The first real chance for the League One Champions fell to top goalscorer Liam Buchanan. He was found by Millar, and curled a low effort with his left foot just wide of the goal. The first half ended goalless, with very to report in terms of goalscoring chances. However, there was always more promise going into the second forty five minutes.
HT: Stenhousemuir 0-0 Livingston
The hosts started the second period brightly, desperate for the points that would ease their relegation worried. They again came close and created the first real chance of the second half. Cook was involved once more, but his shot went just wide after a mix up in the Livi defence.
Matthew Knox found himself on the right wing, where he cut inside onto his left foot and drilled an inviting ball in for Buchanan. The Number 9 was agonisingly close to getting a touch but the delivery sailed past him and just wide of the post. In the 55th minute the Lions were awarded a corner and, in bizarre fashion, took the lead.
Nicky Cadden’s delivery found its way right onto the goal line, and Liam Buchanan headed home from point blank range. There is some debate as to whether the ball had already crossed the line from Cadden’s corner, with both claiming the goal. However, either way it put the visitors 1-0 up. With the league won and players being rested, boss David Hopkin continued to shake things up as he made 3 substitutions in quick succession.
Youngsters Kyle Sampson and Jack Ogilvie replaced Matthew Knox and Liam Buchanan, whilst the experienced Raffa De Vita came on for Sinclair who had played very well after a period on the fringes. Little happened as the game went on, with both sides creating half chances but nothing clear-cut. Stenhousemuir will feel unlucky not to have got something from the game, but the Champions secured the win and another clean sheet, making it 6 wins from the last 6 games. It’s an impressive statistic, making Livingston the most in-form team in Scotland at the moment.
Attention now turns to next weekend when The Lions play host to Queen’s Park, who are the only team the League One winners haven’t beaten in this season’s campaign, with The Spiders taking seven points from a possible nine.
Stenhousemuir: Bowman, Robertson, Duthie, Marsh, Kerr, Meechan (Mazana-Martinez 77), Furtado (Roy 85), Millar, McMenamin, Gilhaney (Shaw 67), Cook
Subs not used: McCormack, Grant Crawford, Smith
Livingston: Kelly, Sinclair (De Vita 70), Lithgow, Longridge, Jacobs, Millar, Knox (Sampson 66), Pittman, Cadden, Buchanan (Ogilvie 76), Todorov
Subs not used: Maley, Mullen, Halkett, Reid
Goals: Buchanan (54)
Referee: Colin Steven
Match report: Calum Brown