Livingston 0-0 Heart of Midlothian

Livi defied an early second half red card for Aymen Souda to claim a deserved share of the spoils as they held Hearts to a goalless draw at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

Souda saw red three minutes after the restart after catching Christophe Berra with an attempted overhead kick but the Lions stood tall to secure a point, Jack McMillan unlucky not to win it for them as he saw an effort cleared off the line.

Gary Holt made two changes to the starting line-up from the defeat to Kilmarnock as Alan Lithgow and Souda came in for Ricki Lamie and the injured Lyndon Dykes. Scott Pittman made a long-awaited return to the bench after two months out with a knee injury.

Lithgow was back on long throw duty and his first attempt on six minutes was fumbled by Joel Pereira in the Hearts goal before he was able to gather at the second attempt. Uche Ikpeazu then fired straight at Matija Sarkic for the visitors three minutes later.

The Jambos were perhaps a tad fortunate to keep 11 men on the park on 16 minutes when Stevie Lawless spun away from Aaron Hickey to go clear only to be hauled back by the Hearts youngster. A free kick was given but ref Greg Aitken saw fit only to show a yellow card. Pereira comfortably gathered the resulting free kick from Souda.

The visitors went close to an opener on 21 minutes as Ikpeazu beat the offside trap before feeding Ryo Meshino who cut inside before firing wide.  The Lions then should have broken the deadlock moments later when Nicky Devlin squared for Robinson but his close range effort was well kept out by Pereira.

Livi were building momentum and went close again on 26 minutes when Keaghan Jacobs’ free kick was glanced on by Jon Guthrie and Lithgow was inches away from getting on the end of it. Souda then cut inside and fired in a low effort a minute later that was kept out by an unorthodox save from Pereira. His resulting corner then found Lithgow but his header was just out of Marvin Bartley’s reach.

Hearts should have gone in front on the half-hour mark when Ikpeazu ran clean through on Sarkic but his effort was brilliantly pushed wide by the Livi stopper from point-blank range. The big striker then tried to win a penalty from Lithgow but his claims were swiftly dismissed by the referee.

The Lions were forced into a change seven minutes before the break as Devlin was forced off with what looked like a knee injury to be replaced by Lamie. Meshino then curled a free kick high over the bar soon after as the teams went in level at the interval.

Half-time: Livingston 0-0 Heart of Midlothian

The second half got off to the worst possible start for the Lions as they were reduced to ten men three minutes after the restart when Pereira fumbled a high ball, Robinson flicked it on and Souda’s attempted acrobatics appeared to catch Berra. Having taken his time over the decision not to send off Hickey in the first half, ref Aitken did not hesitate to give the Livi man his marching orders.

Despite being a man down, the Lions were so unlucky not to take the lead on 51 minutes when Robbie Crawford did brilliantly down the left and teed up Jack McMillan, who saw his effort beat Pereira only to be cleared off the line by Michael Smith.

The referee then took centre stage with Robinson and Ikpeazu picking up yellow cards for late challenges on Berra and Lamie respectively. Jacobs’ resulting free kick found Guthrie but he was flagged offside. Jacobs then curled in another set piece that bounced through everyone and just wide two minutes later.

Hearts boss Craig Levein made a double change just after the hour mark as Clevid Dikamona and Callumn Morrison came on for Jamie Brandon and Steven MacLean. Aidan Keena then replaced Meshino in the Jambos’ final change seven minutes later.

Livi’s second change on 71 minutes saw Hakeem Odoffin replace Robinson and fill his role as the lone striker as the lone striker before Guthrie went into the book for a foul on Ikpeazu. Jenna then stung the palms of Sarkic with a strike from the edge of the box that the Livi stopper did well to hold.

Berra was having a torrid time at the back for the visitors and picked up a yellow card for a cynical tug back on Crawford as he tried to break forward. Hearts’ desperation for victory then perhaps got the better of them as they intercepted Sarkic’s attempt to throw the ball out so Lamie could receive treatment and decided to play on. Fortunately for the Lions, they weren’t able to make anything of it.

The referee was front and centre again on the closing as Odoffin was booked for chipping the goalkeeper after being flagged offside before Lithgow followed suit two minutes for a foul on Ikpeazu, who had spent much of the match on the deck.

Livi made their final change in the last minute as Scott Tiffoney came on for McMillan as the Lions comfortably saw out the final seconds to claim their fourth consecutive Premiership clean sheet against the Jambos.

Full-time: Livingston 0-0 Heart of Midlothian

Livingston: Sarkic, Devlin (Lamie 40), Guthrie, Lithgow, McMillan (Tiffoney 90), Bartley, Jacobs, Crawford, Lawless, Souda, Robinson (Odoffin 72)
Subs not used: Stewart, Lawson, Sibbald, Pittman

Hearts: Pereira, Smith, Berra, Bozanic, Clare, MacLean (Morrison 62), Ikpeazu, Brandon (Dikamona 62), Irving, Hickey, Meshino (Keena 67)
Subs not used: Doyle, Wighton, Damour, Logan

Referee: Greg Aitken
Att: 3,854
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine


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