Livingston 0-0 Dunfermline Athletic

Ten-man Livi showed their steel to hold off stern late pressure and claim a goalless draw against play-off rivals Dunfermline to move into second place in the Ladbrokes Championship at a freezing Tony Macaroni Arena.

In a largely forgettable game, Jordan Thompson was shown a straight red card with 20 minutes left to leave the Lions up against it but they were able to hold on and claim a second home draw of the season against the Pars to leapfrog Dundee United on goal difference.

Unsurprisingly, Lions boss David Hopkin named an unchanged side from the win over Falkirk the previous week, the first time he had been able to do so since the 2-0 win over Dundee United back in October.

It summed up the match in general that the first action of note was an injury delay as Thompson and Andy Ryan suffered a clash of heads inside four minutes but both were OK to continue after a brief spell of treatment.

It was the visitors who had the first sight of goal on seven minutes when they were awarded a free kick for a foul by Craig Halkett on Ryan but a high boot in the box saw the chance before Livi broke quickly and Scott Pittman tried his luck from inside the box but saw his effort deflected wide.

The Pars came close again on 12 minutes when Declan McManus found himself in behind on the right hand side but he tugged at his effort and it trundled harmlessly wide.

Nicky Cadden drove forward for Livi five minutes later before cutting inside and curling an effort straight at Lee Robinson before a quick break from Dunfermline then saw Nicky Clark try his luck from a similar distance but he saw his effort swerve wide of goal.

Livi midfielder Shaun Byrne picked up the game’s first yellow card for a foul on James Vincent but it would prove to be the end of his afternoon as he suffered a facial injury in making the challenge and had to be replaced by Steven Boyd.

The Lions passed up a big chance to break the deadlock on 27 minutes when they broke quickly from a Pars free kick and Ryan Hardie and Boyd found themselves two on one with the last defender but Hardie’s cut back had too much on it for Boyd and the chance was gone.

The visitors enjoyed a good spell of pressure around the half-hour mark with shots deflected all over the box without ever threatening Neil Alexander’s goal before Lee Miller earned some respite for his side by winning a throw in. Declan Gallagher then tried his luck with a fierce strike that was bravely blocked by Jean-Yves M’voto before Robinson was able to gather.

M’voto then picked up a yellow card after catching Miller with a stray arm as the referee dominated proceedings towards the end to the first half, Tom Beadling and Vincent picked up quickfire bookings for fouls on Thompson and Pittman respectively.

It was Dunfermline who had the final chance of the half in the second minute of added time as Clark’s first-time effort flew straight at Alexander to send the sides in at the interval all square.

Full-time: Livingston 0-0 Dunfermline Athletic

The visitors came close to breaking the deadlock five minutes after the interval as McManus’ point blank effort was saved by Alexander’s chest before Ryan’s acrobatic effort flew over the bar. Cadden then sent in a low cross that Robinson had to be alert to gather after M’voto sliced his clearance.

McManus passed up another chance on 59 minutes when he sent a header straight at Alexander from a corner before Clark headed a Craigen corner over the bar nine minutes later.

Then came the major talking point as Thompson brought down Ryan on halfway on 70 minutes and referee Greg Aitken didn’t stop to think before brandishing a straight red card, much to the Livi manager’s bewilderment. Hopkin moved quickly to shore up his side as Jack McMillan came on for Miller before the Pars first change saw Ryan replaced by Daniel Armstrong.

Craigen tried his luck from 30 yards with an effort straight at Alexander on 77 minutes but that proved to be the Pars’ last effort of any note as the depleted Lions held firm. Scott Robinson replaced Hardie with eight minutes to go to disrupt the visitors’ momentum and it worked as, despite intense pressure, Livi held on for a valuable point to stay six ahead of the Pars in the play-off race.

Full-time: Livingston 0-0 Dunfermline Athletic

Livingston: Alexander, Lithgow, Halkett, Gallagher, Thompson, Pittman, Byrne(Boyd 26), De Vita, Cadden, Miller (McMillan 72), Hardie (Robinson 82)
Subs not used:  Maley, Longridge, Mullin, Buchanan

Dunfermline: Robinson, Williamson, Talbot, M’voto, Ashcroft, Craigen, Beadling, Vincent, Ryan (Armstrong 72), McManus, Clark
Subs not used: Gill, Morris, Wedderburn, Cardle, Shiels, Aird

Referee: Greg Aitken,
Att: 1,579
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine

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