Livingston made the long trip to Aberdeenshire as they took on Cove Rangers in matchday three of the Premier Sports Cup, looking to put Tuesday’s disappointing defeat to Inverness behind then.
David Martindale made four changes to the lineup for this one. Ivan Konovalov replaced the suspended Max Stryjek whilst Phillip Cancar, James Penrice and Jason Holt made way for Ayo Obileye, Cristian Montaño and Andrew Shinnie.
The hosts created the first chance of the game early on. Fraser Fyvie drove forward and found Robbie Leith who took the ball brilliantly with a smart piece of skill, but fired just wide of the target.
After a half chance for the Lions saw Kelly’s free kick from wide beaten away, Gerry McDonaugh found Mitch Megginson who slipped in the overlapping Connor Scully down the left. The Cove midfielder’s strike flew narrowly wide.
On 24 minutes, Livi’s poor start was worsened when Esmael Goncalves was sent off for an ill-disciplined kick out after a grapple with Scott Ross.
Despite being a man down, the Lions nearly took the lead ten minutes before the break. An outstanding burst forward from Montano saw the left back beat three men before releasing Dylan Bahamboula down the left. The winger cut inside, beating a man of his own before flashing a shot across goal which flew agonisingly wide of McKenzie’s back post.
Livi were made to pay for not taking their chance when, right on half time, Iain Vigurs put Cove in front. After a corner was cleared to the edge of the box, the midfielder met the ball sweetly on the half volley to send his side 1-0 in front at the break.
Martindale made his first change of the afternoon as the sides came out for the second half, with Bruce Anderson replacing Bahamboula.
Straight after the break, ten man Livi threatened as Kelly’s corner was only half flicked away to the back post. Obileye met it with a header but the defender’s strike didn’t find the target.
Just two minutes later though, Livingston drew level. Again, Cove failed to clear their lines, and after a couple of ricochets, Obileye bundles over the line despite McKenzie’s best efforts.
Cove pushed to regain the lead as they looked to make the man advantage count once more. Megginson found Scully but Konovalov was equal to the midfielder’s strike.
Jim McIntyre’s men threatened again on 62 minutes. Some nice footwork from Robbie Leitch on the right granted the winger with a shooting opportunity but his strike smashed into the side netting.
Scully was causing problems driving forward from midfield, as he found Megginson in a dangerous area. The forward’s effort forced Konovalov into another stop as the Russian tipped wide. From the resultant corner, Leitch tried his luck again but couldn’t find the target.
After soaking up the pressure, the visitors pushed forward themselves. Anderson’s shot was blocked, and the rebound fell to Sean Kelly whose cut back took McKenzie out the game. Luckily for the Cove keeper, his defence were well positioned to divert the danger.
Livi came forward again and fashioned another opportunity. Shinnie slipped in Nicky Devlin down the right, but the full back smashed an effort over the bar.
With two minutes to go, Devlin was involved once more as he made amends for his earlier miss, netting the winner. Some great work from substitutes Jason Holt and Stephane Omeonga saw the latter progress with the ball on the counter. The Belgian slipped through Devlin whose touch took him onto his weaker left foot, but that didn’t stop him rifling a rocket past McKenzie into the top corner to put Livi 2-1 up and seal a crucial three points.
Despite making it difficult for themselves by going a man and a goal down, the Lions showed heart to complete an impressive comeback and keep their last 16 chances alive in Group G of the Premier Sports Cup.
Match Report: Calum Brown
Cove Rangers: McKenzie, Logan, Towler, Scully, Ross, Neill, McDonagh (McAllister 79), Megginson, Vigurs, Leitch (McIntosh 85), Fyvie
Subs not used: Masson, Thomas, Gourlay, Reynolds
Goals: Vigurs (44)
Livingston: Konovalov, Devlin©️, Fitzwater, Obileye, Montaño, Shinnie (Holt 85), Pittman, Kelly (Omeonga 72), Bahamboula (Anderson 45 (Bitsindou 89)), Gonçalves ▊, Nouble
Subs not used: Maley, Longridge, Brandon, Cancar, Mullin
Goals: Obileye (22), Devlin (88)
Referee: Willie Collum