Livi were beaten but far from disgraced as they pushed La Liga giants Real Sociedad all the way in a narrow pre-season defeat at a rainy Energy Assets Arena.
David Moyes’ side arrived in West Lothian for their third game in four days, having lost narrowly to Celtic and drawn with St Johnstone, and brought a strong squad with them including one-time Real Madrid starlets Sergio Canales and Esteban Granero. Livi boss Mark Burchill made just the one change to the side that drew 0-0 with Dunfermline as Spas Georgiev started in place of Jordan White. Morgyn Neill made his final appearance as a trialist before his signing was confirmed the following day.
La Real were quickly on top as they made full use of the slick surface to stamp their passing style on the match though the first chance came the way of the Lions as Ross Millen’s cross was cleared only as far as Keiran Gibbons but his show flew high and wide of the goal. The deadlock was eventually broken just before the half hour mark as Canales dinked a cross into the box and David Zurutuza slipped between two Livi defenders to nudge the ball home despite a brave attempt from Darren Jamieson to keep it out.
Livi responded well to the loss of the goal and Danny Mullen came close to an equaliser with a long range effort which was well saved by Geronimo Rulli in the Sociedad goal. La Real went straight up the other and came close to a second when sharp build-up play ended with Canales dragging an effort across goal and just wide. Craig Sives was the next to go close for the Lions as his header from a Jackson Longridge free kick was saved by Rulli. This was the final chance of the half as La Real went in at the interval with a narrow lead.
The Lions boss made four changes at the interval as Mullen, Georgiev, Liam Buchanan and Scott Pittman were replaced by Gary Glen, Jordan White and two trialists. The home side started the second half brightly and came close to a spectacular equaliser when Longridge let fly from fully 35 yards with a first-time thunderbolt that whistled just over the crossbar.
The game was becoming bogged down in the midfield as a flurry of substitutions for the visitors disrupted the flow of proceedings but La Real came close when a fine flowing move ended with Alain Oyairzun being played through to be denied by a fine reaction save from Jamieson. A further Lions change saw Ryan Currie replace Myles Hippolyte before a looping cross from Millen was met by White but his header was straight at Rulli. Livi made two further changes as young Matthew Knox replaced Gibbons and one of our trialists went off injured to be replaced by another.
The game petered out after that and the result was unchanged as La Real rounded off their Scottish tour with a victory. For Livi there was much to be encouraged about as the build-up to the big kick off against Clyde on July 25 continues.
Livingston: Jamieson, Millen, Longridge, Sives, Trialist, Mullen (Trialist 46), Hippolyte (Currie 69), Pittman (Glen 46), Gibbons, Georgiev (White 46), Buchanan (Trialist 46)
Subs: Quinn, Sheerin
Real Sociedad: Rulli, Zaldua, De la Bella, Gonzalez, Martinez, Bergara, Zurutuza, Caneles, Capilla, Zubelvia, Muguruza
Goals: Zurutuza (28)
Match Report: Andrew Crawford
Half Time Draw
1st 134476 2nd 133596 3rd 133581