Livi blew a golden chance to climb out of the bottom two in the Ladbrokes Championship as they were held to a controversial draw by Alloa, a result which condemned the Wasps to relegation.
The Lions were denied a clear penalty in the dying minutes when the nearside linesman wrongly overruled ref Alan Muir’s decision to point to the spot, a decision which enraged boss David Hopkin – who was sent to the stand for his protests – as a huge chance to claim the three points was snatched away.
Hopkin made two changes to his side from the fine 2-1 win away to Falkirk as Morgyn Neill came in for the suspended Jackson Longridge and Sam Stanton replaced Josh Mullin.
It was the visitors, who knew only a win would stave off the drop, who forced the first chance of the game as Michael Duffy rose highest at the back post but could only head Iain Flannigan’s corner wide. Livi then headed up the other end as Scott Gallacher got down well to save from Jordan White before Darren Cole headed the resulting corner just over the bar. Stanton then made a storming run down the right and looked to have been fouled in the box but was honest enough to keep going and win a corner, which Gallacher punched clear.
Livi were dominating now and White was the next to run at the Alloa back line but his cut back couldn’t find a teammate and the attack broke down as Stanton gave away a free kick. The next chance fell to Neill at a corner but he could only thunder an effort just over the bar as the Lions’ frustration continued and they were forced to settle for a 0-0 scoreline at the interval.
Half-time: Livingston 0-0 Alloa Athletic
The second half was a slow burner as neither side was able to gain control and Alloa boss Jack Ross was the first to look to his bench as he sent on Isaac Layne in place of Robbie Crawford.
The Wasps forced the first real chance of the half on 62 minutes as the ball fel to Flannigan inside the box but he could only drag his shot wide of goal. Livi boss Hopkin made his first change soon after as Mullin came on for Charlie Telfer before Alloa’s Colin Hamilton picked up the game’s first booking.
Both sides then made a further change as Liam Caddis replaced Hamilton for Alloa and Jordyn Sheerin replaced Scott Pittman for the Lions. Cole then picked up Livi’s first yellow card.
Alloa had thrown caution to the wind by this point as they searched for the goal they so desperately needed and were unlucky when a cut back fell just behind Layne and he couldn’t get the required contact on his attempted backheel and the ball rolled to safety.
Then came the controversy as Sheerin was sent clear and drove forward only to be scythed down about a yard inside the box by a desperate Steven Hetherington. The referee correctly pointed to the spot and sent off the Alloa man only for the linesman, who hadn’t kept up with play, to interfere and advise that he believed the foul had taken place outside the box, leading the referee to award a free kick instead.
This sparked fury on the Livi bench and Hopkin stormed down the touchline to confront the linesman, an action which saw him sent from the dugout. When the dust settled, Livi sent on youngster Matthew Knox in place of Neill apparently so he could take the free kick. Unfortunately he slipped in doing so but his deflected effort still forced a decent save out of Gallacher.
The Lions were awarded a further free kick in injury time which Mark Fotheringham took but Gallacher was able to save comfortably, leaving the Livi players and fans hugely frustrated as a big chance went begging and they were forced to settle for a fairly useless point. It was even less use to the visitors, for whom the draw meant a return to League One after three years in the second tier.
Full-time: Livingston 0-0 Alloa Athletic
Livingston: McCallum, Halkett, Cole, Gordon, Neill (Knox 89), Stanton, Fotheringham, Pittman (Sheerin 74), Telfer (Mullin 63) Buchanan, White
Subs not used: Jamieson, Kakay, Currie
Alloa Athletic: Gallacher, McAusland, Hill, Hamilton (Caddis 69), Marr, Duffy, Holmes (Ferns 85), Flannigan, Hetherington, Megginson, R.Crawford (Layne 58)
Subs not used: D.Crawford, McManus, Finnie, Wilson
Referee: Alan Muir
Match Report: Andy Crawford