Livi finally claimed their first win of 2016 with a dominant display against relegation rivals Alloa that gives David Hopkin’s side a comfortable lead over the rock-bottom Wasps in the fight for Ladbrokes Championship survival.
The Lions headed across the Clackmannanshire Bridge still looking for a first win since Boxing Day and knowing that there would be no better time to get it than in the battle of the division’s bottom two sides.
Livi boss David Hopkin made three changes to his side from the 2-0 loss at Raith Rovers the week before as Charlie Telfer came in for his first start along with Jackson Longridge and Danny Mullen. Scott Pittman, Josh Mullin and Liam Buchanan all dropped to the bench.
The Lions were quick out of the blocks and Mark Fotheringham released Mullen with a smart first-time pass but Wasps keeper Scott Gallacher was out quickly to gather. Telfer then found himself in a great position inside the box but took too long to set himself and his shot was charged down. The ball then found its way to Longridge but his first time strike flew harmlessly wide.
Livi continued to dominate and Fotheringham’s free kick was headed down by Mullen and White took a touch before firing his effort across goal and wide. The deadlock was eventually broken on 11 minutes and it was the Lions who got what they deserved as Telfer forced the ball into the path of Longridge who calmly slotted under the advancing Gallacher for his first Livi goal.
The second goal arrived three minutes later and once again it was Livi who got it as Telfer curled a fine low cross in which was missed by Jason Marr, leaving Jordan White with a simple task to tap home and put Livi in control. They continued to press forward and Osman Kakay found Mullen but his shot was so wayward it went out for a throw-in further from goal that where it started.
For all Livi’s dominance they were caught out on 19 minutes when, after Marc McCallum had parried a low shot, Michael Duffy was on hand to tap home and reduce the deficit to a single goal. Livi weren’t overly fazed by the loss of the goal and continued to dominate proceedings – Ben Gordon was next to go go close with a header from a Fotheringham free kick which flew just over. Kakay was the next to try his luck with a strike from distance which Gallacher held easily. Gordon was then on hand at the other end to block an effort from Duffy.
That proved a rare foray forward for Jack Ross’ side as Livi continued to dominate. Kakay tried his luck from distance once again but his volley went over. He was then denied from closer in as he seemed to be impeded while trying to reach a Longridge cross and could only turn the ball into the keeper’s arms. Livi weren’t to be denied for long though as a lightning quick counter attack saw the outstanding Telfer play Mullen in down the left and he cut in before laying the ball back for Stanton to coolly slot home from the edge of the box.
Confidence was coursing through the Livi players’ veins now and Telfer showed nimble feet to find space and feed White but his curling effort went over as the Lions went in at the break with a two-goal lead.
Half-time: Alloa Athletic 1-3 Livingston
Alloa made a half-time change as Ryan McAusland replaced Ryan Finnie. The Wasps had a decent spell of pressure at the start of the half but failed to really threaten the Livi defence, with only a harmless long-range strike from Stephen Hetherington to show for their efforts. A second Alloa switch saw Colin Hamilton replaced by Iain Flannigan.
After that initial spell of pressure from the home side, Livi reasserted themselves quickly and Mullen set up Telfer who fired in a powerful strike from 25 yards which Gallacher held well. Fotheringham then whipped in a corner which was met by Gordon but Burton O’Brien was in the right place to clear his downward header off the line. Livi made their first change as Mullen was replaced by Liam Buchanan before Fotheringham was booked for a verbal spat with Alloa boss Jack Ross.
Scott Pittman came on for White in Livi’s second change before Fotheringham curled in a free kick which Gallacher held comfortably. Kakay then found himself in space in the box but his first touch was too heavy and the chance was gone. More Livi pressure saw Craig Halkett’s long throw flicked on by Gordon for Buchanan but his low shot was held easily by Gallacher. Buchanan then tried his luck with an audacious lob from 40 yards but got too much on it and the shot sailed over the bar.
Livi’s final change saw Ryan Currie replace Kakay and he had the next chance as he was played in by Telfer but he had to stretch to get his shot away and it cleared the bar. Buchanan then latched on to a short backheader but his touch round the keeper was too heavy and the chance was lost. He then fired in a powerful volley that Gallacher had to parry wide for a corner. Buchanan then had the final chance as he drove into the box and fired in a shot that was charged down for a corner which came to nothing. It mattered little as Livi secured a thoroughly-deserved victory that opened up a seven-point cushion over the Wasps at the foot of the table.
Full-time: Alloa Athletic 1-3 Livingston
Alloa Athletic: Gallacher, Hill, Hamilton (Flannigan 60), Marr, Duffy, O’Brien, Caddis (R.Crawford 74), McManus, Hetherington, Finnie (McAusland 45), Megginson
Subs not used: D.Crawford, Reintam, Holmes, Ferns
Goals: Duffy (19)
Livingston: McCallum, Halkett, Cole, Gordon, Longridge, Kakay (Currie 82), Telfer, Fotheringham, Stanton, White (Pittman 72), Mullen (Buchanan 66)
Subs not used: Quinn, Sheerin, Mullin, Neill
Goals: Longridge (11), White (14), Stanton (39)
Referee: Craig Charleston
Match report: Andy Crawford