Falkirk 1-1 Livingston

Livi recovered from the loss of a 90th minute equaliser to beat League One side Falkirk on penalties and secure a bonus point in their Betfred Cup Group G curtain-raiser.

After Lyndon Dykes had marked his Livi debut with a first-half opener, Conor Sammon took advantage of a rare lapse at the back to snatch a draw for the Bairns in the final minute. Goalkeeper Matija Sarkic then became the hero with two saves in the shootout to give the Lions the extra point.

Livi boss Gary Holt handed starting debuts to four of his summer recruits, Dykes and Sarkic joined by Marvin Bartley and Cece Pepe. Jack McMillan also started having spent the second half of last season on loan at Partick Thistle.

The Lions made a bright start and forced a series of corners that came to nothing before the home side’s Aidan Connolly picked up a yellow card on six minutes for a rash tackle on Ricki Lamie. Good build-up play from Livi two minutes later then saw Scott Pittman slip in Scott Robinson down the right and his cross was agonisingly out of Dykes’ reach.

The Bairns forced the first save from either keeper on 10 minutes when one-time Livi loanee Charlie Telfer turned into space inside the box and curled in a good effort that was well tipped wide by Sarkic. Up the other end, Dykes almost latched on to a short back pass but Bairns keeper Cammy Bell was out smartly to clear the danger. Robinson then forced an error from the home defence before playing a one-two with Stevie Lawless and firing over the bar.

The deadlock was eventually broken nine minutes before the interval when a ball over the top released Dykes and, although Bell got a strong hand to his effort, it dropped below the bar to give the Lions a lead that they just about deserved.

The former Queen of the South frontman almost grabbed a second four minutes later when he was released down the left and cut inside before curling in a fierce effort that was pushed wide by Bell as the Lions’ lead remained just a single goal at the break.

Half-time: Falkirk 0-1 Livingston

Livi started the second half on the front foot and Dykes went close again two minutes after the restart but he lashed his shot over the bar from the edge of the box. Keaghan Jacobs then sent a low effort harmlessly wide five minutes later.

Debutant Bartley then tried his luck from 25 yards on 57 minutes but – having not scored in 124 appearances for Hibs – it perhaps wasn’t a great surprise that his effort flew high over the bar. The Lions then won a free kick on 68 minutes when sumptuous build-up play was stopped in its tracks by a crude challenge on Lamie by Paul Dixon for which the Bairns defender was booked. Lawless took the resulting free kick but his effort curled just wide.

The home side made the game’s first change with 20 minutes remaining as Denny Johnstone replaced Connolly before Livi were awarded another free kick a minute later for a foul by another ex-Lion in Gregor Buchanan. Lawless again took but this time his effort was too high. Livi then made their first switch two minutes later when Scott Tiffoney replaced Robinson.

Just before that change had been made, the Bairns somehow failed to draw level when the ball fell to Johnstone a yard out with the goal at his mercy but he could only steer his effort wide. The Lions then made their second change on 77 minutes as Aymen Souda came on for his Livi debut in place of Lawless. Lewis Toshney replaced Ross MacLean for the hosts three minutes later before Lee Miller replaced Dykes for Livi on 83 minutes.

The Lions looked to be comfortably holding on for the three points but were stunned in the final minute of normal time as the Bairns equalised when Sarkic – perhaps fearful of falling over the line with the ball – didn’t hold a headed effort and Sammon was on hand to fire home the loose ball.

Despite that shock, Livi almost won it in the 92nd minute when Souda’s cross was flicked goalwards by Tiffoney but Bell got across to push his effort away and send the teams to a penalty shootout for a bonus point.

Full-time (after 90 minutes): Falkirk 1-1 Livingston

Both sides started the shootout well, Telfer putting Falkirk ahead before Jacobs levelled things for Livi, but Sarkic made his first intervention from the next kick as he sprung to his right to parry Michael Tidser’s effort. Lee Miller took full advantage to put the Lions ahead.

Conor Sammon fired home to bring the Bairns level but it was only briefly as Lamie slammed his kick high into the net to make it 3-2. Ian McShane scores to bring Falkirk level again but Souda produced a superb kick, firing high into the roof of the net to put the Lions on the brink.

Souda’s successful kick piled the pressure on Toshney and he fluffed his lines, appearing to mishit his kick which allowed Sarkic to make a comfortable save low to his right and secure the bonus point for the Lions.

Full-time (after penalties): Falkirk 1-1 Livingston (Livi win 4-3 on penalties)

Falkirk: Bell, Doyle, Dixon, Buchanan, Durnan, Connolly (Johnstone 69), McShane, MacLean (Toshney 80), Tidser, Sammon, Telfer
Subs not used: Mutch
Goals: Sammon (90)
Penalties: Telfer, Tidser, Sammon, McShane, Toshney

Livingston: Sarkic, McMillan, Lithgow, Pepe, Lamie, Bartley, Jacobs, Robinson (Tiffoney 72), Lawless (Souda 77), Pittman, Dykes (Miller 83)
Subs not used: Stewart, Blues, Crawford, De Vita
Goals: Dykes (36)
Penalties: Jacobs, Miller, Lamie, Souda

Referee: Alan Muir
Att: 2,121
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine

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