Livi failed to recover from a nightmare start as they slipped to a 2-0 defeat against new Ladbrokes Premiership leaders Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
Two Greg Stewart goals in the first 20 minutes did the damage for Steve Clarke’s side as Livi were unable to build on Saturday’s win over Motherwell and dropped one place to seventh in the table.
The Lions made two changes from the weekend, Dolly Menga and Steve Lawson coming in for Jack Hamilton and Keaghan Jacobs, but found themselves a goal down inside three minutes as Stewart was left in far too much space at the near post to get on the end of Chris Burke’s corner and glance a header home from six yards.
Burke was the next to threaten for the home side on 10 ten minutes when he cut inside before firing in an effort from distance that was comfortably held by Liam Kelly. Greg Taylor then drove forward from left back seven minutes later and fired in a low strike that Kelly was down well to save.
Livi found themselves right up against it on 20 minutes as the home side doubled their lead, countering swiftly from a Lions corner with Alan Power releasing Stewart, who found it all too easy to drive into the box and fire home across Kelly.
The Lions has their first sight of goal on 27 minutes when Menga got in behind the Killie back line but Daniel Bachmann was our smartly to block the Angolan’s effort. The home side then came close to a third nine minutes later when Kirk Broadfoot got on the end of another Burke corner but Steve Lawson was in the right place at the right time to clear his header off the line.
Half-time: Kilmarnock 2-0 Livingston
There was a break in play early in the second half as Broadfoot collided with his own goalkeeper, who appeared to catch him in the head with his knee, forcing the former Scotland international off to be replaced by Aaron Tshibola.
Livi were looking more lively after the restart and had a chance on 57 minutes when Nicky Cadden won the ball and wriggled into space before firing in a low drive that was comfortably saved by Bachmann. Alan Lithgow then headed a Cadden free kick wife but was adjudged to have been offside.
There was a welcome sight for Livi fans just after the hour mark as Ryan Hardie made a long-awaited return from injury to replace Cadden before Killie made their second change three minutes later, Iain Wilson replacing Eamonn Brophy.
Livi went close again on 69 minutes when a trademark Lithgow long throw was met by Declan Gallagher but he couldn’t get enough power on his header and it was comfortably saved by Bachmann. Scott Pittman then picked up a yellow card two minutes for a cynical foul to break up a Killie counter attack.
The Lions made their final change on 72 minutes as Bobby Burns came on for Dolly Menga before they went close three minutes later when Hardie chested the ball into the path of Stevie Lawless but his first-time effort fizzed just wide. Lamie then saw a long range effort deflected wide for a corner that came to nothing.
Livi had one final effort five minutes from time as patient build-up play ended with Lamie’s cross being headed wide by Hardie as Killie ran out comfortable winners to move to the top of the table.
Full-time: Kilmarnock 2-0 Livingston
Kilmarnock: Bachmann, O’Donnell, Broadfoot (Tshibola 51), S. Boyd, Taylor, Burke, Dicker, Power, Jones, Stewart (Ndjoli 87), Brophy (Wilson 67)
Subs not used: MacDonald, McKenzie, K. Boyd, Waters
Goals: Stewart (3 & 20)
Livingston: Kelly, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Lamie, Cadden (Hardie 63), Lawson (Sibbald 38), Byrne, Pittman, Lawless, Menga (Burns 72)
Subs not used: Stewart, Jacobs, McMillan, Hamilton
Referee: Bobby Madden
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine