Livi returned to winning ways as a goal in each half saw them ease past bottom side Brechin City at Glebe Park to move back into the playoff places in the Ladbrokes Championship.
Craig Halkett’s early penalty set the Lions on their way after Jackson Longridge had been brought down by Conor McLennan but it took until midway through the second half for Scott Robinson to seal the points for David Hopkin’s side.
The Lions boss made four changes to his side from the disappointing defeat to Queen of the South as new signing Gregor Buchanan came in for his debut alongside Declan Gallagher, Keaghan Jacobs and Steven Boyd. James Penrice, Nikolay Todorov, Dylan Mackin and Raffaele De Vita dropped out, the latter three to the bench with Penrice having returned to his parent club.
The home side started the game brightly and conjured up an opportunity within the opening minute. McLennan collected a pass from Aron Lynas out on the right before dribbling inside however his resultant powerful effort was straight down the throat of Neil Alexander.
With 12 minutes on the clock, the visitors were awarded a penalty when McLennan was adjudged to have bundled over Jackson Longridge in the box. City players protested furiously against the decision, with keeper Graeme Smith cautioned for his reaction, but it mattered not as Lions captain Halkett expertly slotted his spot kick low into the corner despite Smith guessing correctly.
Chances were few and far between for both sides. Paul McLean sliced a volley high and wide of the goal after a cross had been headed out to him and Declan Gallagher did likewise at the other end of the park. McLean picked up a yellow card on 25 minutes for handball before Jacobs followed suit for dissent.
Shortly before the half hour mark, Andy Jackson diverted a cross-cum-shot from Paul McLean into the net for the home side but the linesman had already flagged for offside. Several minutes later, Neil Alexander had to be alert to tip a dangerous Sinclair cross over the bar.
Five minutes before the interval, Smith was called into action when Robinson skipped past a couple of challenges on the edge of the box but his effort was straight at the City keeper. Robinson saw his name taken just before the interval as Livi went in with their narrow lead intact.
Half-time: Brechin City 0-1 Livingston
Two minutes into the second period, Steven Boyd tried his luck from the edge of the box but it didn’t trouble Smith. Longridge picked up a yellow card on the hour before Livi made their first change soon after as De Vita replaced Jacobs. Ex-Livi man Jordan Sinclair was then replaced by Isaac Layne on 65 minutes.
The Lions doubled their lead in the 69th minute when the visitors doubled their advantage following a defensive error. Lynas got his feet caught in the surface and left his pass-back horribly short and Robinson was on hand to capitalise as he latched onto the loose ball and slotted past the on-rushing Smith from the edge of the box.
Livi made their second change on 72 minutes as Dylan Mackin replaced Boyd before Brechin followed suit four minutes later as Kalvin Orsi replaced Andy Jackson. The home side were finding it difficult to get any fluency in their play as a hard working midfield and well drilled defence were quick to close them down at just about every opportunity.
Ten minutes from time, skipper Paul McLean had one of his trademark surging forward runs which saw him skip past two players but his strike from the edge of the box was gathered easily by Alexander. Three minutes later, Callum Tapping was next to try his luck when he cut in from the left hand side but his effort curled just past the far post.
As the game approached stoppage time, Brechin really should have pulled a goal back as Orsi showed some trickery on the right before providing an inch perfect cross for the unmarked Smith but from just a few yards out he somehow screwed the ball wide when it looked easier to score as Livi claimed the points and moved back into the Championship’s top four.
Half-time: Brechin City 0-2 Livingston
Attention now turns to the William Hill Scottish Cup as the Lions entertain Championship rivals Falkirk this coming Saturday.
Brechin City: Smith, McLean, Dale, Tapping, Graham, Jackson (Orsi 76), Lynas, Spark, McLennan (Smith 85), Crighton, Sinclair (Layne 65)
Subs not used: O’Neil, Dyer, Fusco, Watt
Livingston: Alexander, Lithgow, Halkett, Gallagher, Byrne, Pittman, Buchanan, Longridge, Jacobs(De Vita 61), Robinson (Todorov 82), Boyd (Mackin 72)
Subs not used: Maley, Thompson, Mullin, Cadden
Goals: Halkett (12 pen), Robinson (69)
Referee: Craig Charleston
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine