Livi ended their run of four consecutive defeats in the Ladbrokes Premiership as a resolute performance secured a richly-deserved goalless draw with Heart of Midlothian at Tynecastle Park.
The Lions were back to their resilient best to keep the Jambos at bay and remain unbeaten in the league against Craig Levein’s side. They could even have won it in the second half with Ryan Hardie and Hakeem Odoffin both going close.
There were three changes to the Livi side from the defeat at Motherwell as Steve Lawson, Odoffin and Ricki Lamie came in for Chris Erskine, Craig Sibbald and Scott Tiffoney.
The hosts started strongly and had their first effort on goal inside four minutes when John Souttar tried his luck from 25 yards but saw his strike fly harmlessly wide. Steven Naismith then thought he’d given Hearts the lead five minutes later when he glanced home Oliver Bozanic‘s free kick only to see his effort chalked off for offside.
Jake Mulraney was next to be halted by the linesman’s flag on 13 minutes although his effort was saved by Liam Kelly anyway before, up the other end, Alan Lithgow suffered a similar fate as he headed wide but was also flagged for offside.
After Sean Clare and Shaun Byrne were both treated for head knocks, the game somewhat died a death for a 15-minute spell before bursting into life again on 38 minutes when Declan Gallagher picked up a yellow card for a foul on Naismith. Olly Lee then saw a long range effort well saved by Kelly five minutes later.
The Lions finished the half strongly and went close when Lithgow released Stevie Lawless down the left with a well-disguised pass and his cross just evaded Odoffin at the far post. Odoffin then whipped in a superb cross from the opposite flank two minutes but the home defence was able to clear as the teams went in at the break level.
Half-time: Heart of Midlothian 0-0 Livingston
Livi continued to threaten after the restart and had their clearest sight of goal on 56 minutes when tigerish work from Lawson saw the ball break to Odoffin inside the Hearts box but his low, angled drive fizzed across goal and a couple of yards wide. Hardie, Lawless and Scott Pittman then saw efforts charged down at the edge of the box as the Lions laid siege to the Hearts goal.
Craig Halkett tried his luck from 35 yards on 63 minutes with a ferocious effort that Colin Doyle did well to hold on to before the home side made their first change two minutes later as Uche Ikpeazu returned from injury to replace Bozanic.
The Lions then came within a whisker of taking the lead with 20 minutes to go when Halkett produced a marauding run down the right wing before curling in a fine cross for Hardie who saw his looping header brilliantly tipped over by Doyle. Lawson’s resulting corner was met by Lithgow at the back post but his header was kept out on the line by the Hearts ‘keeper.
Livi made their first change on 72 minutes as Keaghan Jacobs came on for Odoffin before Hearts made their second switch three minutes later, sending on Callumn Morrison for Conor Shaughnessy. The Lions then made two further changes on 77 and 82 minutes, Sibbald and Erskine coming on for Hardie and Lawson, the home side making their final change at the same time as Demetri Mitchell replaced Mulraney.
Ikpeazu should have done better when he met a cross from the right six yards out but could only head straight at Kelly before Lawless picked up a yellow card for kicking the ball away after Lamie had fouled Morrison. The home side piled on the pressure in the closing stages but couldn’t find a way through the amber wall as Livi secured their first point of 2019.
Full-time: Heart of Midlothian 0-0 Livingston
Heart of Midlothian: Doyle, Smith Shaugnessy (Morrison 75), Souttar, Berra, Bozanic (Ikpeazu 65), Lee, Clare, Djoum, Naismith, Mularney (Mitchell 82)
Subs not used: Zlamal, Cochrane, Dikamona, Vanecek
Livingston: Kelly, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Odoffin (Jacobs 71), Lamie, Lawless, Lawson (Sibbald 78), Byrne, Pittman, Hardie (Erskine 82)
Subs not used: Stewart, Brown, Blues, Wylde
Referee: Alan Muir
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine