Livi secured a Betfred Cup bonus point as they defeated Premiership rivals Hamilton Academical on penalties following a goalless draw at New Douglas Park.
After a dismal 90 minutes, Accies passed up two chances to win the shootout before Liam Kelly kept out Darren Lyon’s spot kick to seal an extra point for Kenny Miller’s side.
The Lions boss made one change from the side that opened their group campaign with a 2-1 win over Airdrie on Saturday as Callum Crane came in for his full debut in place of Alan Lithgow, who dropped to the bench.
Accies came into the match knowing that a victory was crucial to their hopes of reaching the knockout stages and came close to breaking the deadlock inside a minute when Rakish Bingham teed up Dougie Imrie but he fired over the bar. Darian McKinnon then found himself in space inside the box but sent his header harmlessly over the bar.
Livi had their first sight of goal on nine minutes as Lee Miller found Scott Pittman – he was crowded out but the ball fell for Scott Robinson who saw his effort well saved by Martin Woods. The resulting corner was flicked on by Craig Halkett for Declan Gallagher but he headed over. Another chance came the Lions’ way three minutes later as Crane drove forward and whipped in a cross but Nicky Cadden couldn’t get over the ball and sent his header over.
After a quiet spell, Kelly had to be alert to gather a dangerous cross from Aaron McGowan on 29 minutes as the hosts threatened to break the deadlock. Accies’ McCann then picked up a yellow card for a rash challenge on Robinson.
Livi enjoyed the better of proceedings as half-time approached and forced a chance three minutes before the interval as Kenny Miller and Pittman combined with the player-boss sending in a deep cross that was headed down by Crane to Cadden, but the winger’s effort flew high over the bar. The two Millers then combined shortly after as Kenny teed up Lee for a low strike that was well blocked as the teams went in at the end of an uninspiring first half level.
Half-time: Hamilton Academical 0-0 Livingston
The match continued in a similar vein after the restart with little action of note in either box, though Cadden did curl a free kick over the bar on 50 minutes after Imrie had picked up a yellow card for a foul on the Lions’ number 11.
There was a half chance for Livi on 62 minutes as Lee Miller flicked on for Kenny Miller but his touch was too heavy and Woods was able to gather. Shaun Byrne then wriggled into space a couple of minutes later but his effort from distance flew high over the bar.
The home side made their first change on 69 minutes as Mickel Miller was replaced by Ross Cunningham. A double change for the Lions followed shortly after as Jack McMillan and Jack Hamilton replaced Cadden and Lee Miller. Livi then passed up a good chance to break the deadlock on 75 minutes as Crane’s free kick from the left was met by Gallagher but his powerful header was straight at Woods.
Livi made their final change seven minutes from timing as Kenny Miller replaced himself with Craig Sibbald before Accies made their second switch a minute later, Lyon coming on for Tom Taiwo, who had picked up a yellow card moments earlier for a poor challenge on Pittman.
The Lions came agonisingly close to a fortuitous winner in the final minute of normal time as Robinson’s long-range effort deflected off Sibbald and wrong-footed Woods, only to trundle inches wide of the post. The final whistle sounded shortly after to secure both sides at least a point as they went into a bonus point penalty shootout.
The first six penalties were scored before Robinson saw his effort saved by Woods. Bingham then scored for Accies to leave them on the brink. Hamilton scored Livi’s fifth spot kick to ensure MacKinnon had to score to win it for the hosts but he tried to be too cute and chipped his penalty over the bar to take the shootout to sudden death.
Crane and Cunningham scored the first sudden death spot kicks before Gallagher blazed his effort over the bar. That gave McGowan another chance to win it for Accies but Kelly produced a fine save. McMillan scored Livi’s eighth penalty to pile the pressure on Lyon and his effort was saved by Kelly to seal a bonus point for the Lions
Full-time: Hamilton Academical 0-0 Livingston (Livingston win 6-5 on penalties)
The other match in Group F saw Annan Athletic thump fellow League Two side Berwick Rangers 4-0 at Galabank. That leaves Annan a point ahead of Livi at the top of the group ahead of the two sides’ meeting in Linlithgow on Saturday.
Hamilton Acadamical: Woods, McGowan, McMann, Gordon, Imrie, Bingham, Miller (Cunningham 70), Taiwo (Lyon 85), Penny, MacKinnon, Kelly
Subs not Used: Fulton, Phillips, Smith, Want, Sowah
Penalties: Imrie, Bingham, Kelly, Penny, MacKinnon, Cunningham, McGowan, Lyon
Livingston: Kelly, Lamie, Crane, Halkett, Gallagher, Byrne, Pittman, Robinson, Cadden (McMillan 73), L.Miller (Hamilton 73) & K.Miller (Sibbald 83)
Subs not used: Stewart, Lithgow, Saunders, Knox
Penalties: Halket, Lamie, Sibbald, Robinson, Hamilton, Crane, Gallagher, McMillan
Referee: John Beaton
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine