Livi kicked off the new Ladbrokes Premiership season with a hard-fought goalless draw against Motherwell at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
In an entertaining encounter, the Lions came closest to breaking the deadlock as Aymen Souda saw an acrobatic effort well-saved by Mark Gillespie in the first half before the ‘Well keeper denied Nicky Devlin a first goal for the club late on.
Gary Holt made four changes to his side from the Betfred Cup stroll against Berwick Rangers as Ross Stewart, Jack McMillan, Keaghan Jacobs and Stevie Lawless came in for Matija Sarkic, Cece Pepe, Craig Sibbald and Ross Crawford.
There was little to excite the fans in the early going with an 18th-minute yellow card for the visitors’ Christian Ilic after a series of fouls the extent of the entertainment in the opening stages. Livi created a half-chance on 20 minutes when Devlin got in behind the visitors’ defence before cutting inside but, on his weaker foot, he hesitated and allowed the visitors to clear.
Livi were growing into the match and went close again on 25 minutes when Marvin Bartley powered down the right to reach the byline but his low cut back was turned away as Lyndon Dykes waited to pounce. Another counter attack six minutes later saw Lawless feed Jacobs in the midfield and he drove at the ‘Well defence before firing well wide of target.
The visitors tested the Livi defence for the first time on 35 minutes when Jake Carroll got in down the left and fired in a powerful effort that Stewart did well to parry away. Then came Souda’s moment of magic as he got on the end of a right-wing cross and fired in a sublime overhead kick that Gillespie did brilliantly to tip wide. Souda took the resulting corner and Alan Lithgow saw his header tipped over.
Livi went close again on the stroke of half-time as Scott Pittman saw an effort saved by Gillespie and then, after escaping the attention of the ‘Well keeper, sent a lobbed effort goalwards that was cleared off the line by Declan Gallagher to keep the scores level at the break.
Full-time: Livingston 0-0 Motherwell
Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson made a change at the interval, bringing on Sherwin Seedorf for Ilic, who was in danger of picking up a second yellow card.
Livi were then straight on the attack after the restart as a lofted ball from Pittman found Souda but his header was saved by Gillespie. Ricki Lamie then fired a free kick high over the bar two minutes later after a foul on Dykes, who was then booked on 49 minutes for a cynical foul on Charles Dunne on the halfway line.
The Lions were well on top and went close again on 50 minutes when an excellent through ball from Lawless found Souda but his first-time effort hit the side netting. Motherwell then made their second change a minute later, Chris Long replacing James Scott.
Jermaine Hylton got through on goal on 52 minutes but Stewart was out smartly to block before, at the other end, Lithgow fired a 30-yard effort straight at Gillespie two minutes later after Jacobs had laid a free kick into his path.
Motherwell went close on 65 minutes when Allan Campbell played in Richard Tait and he cut inside before shooting straight at Stewart. Livi made their first change soon after as Sibbald came on for Souda. Jack McMillan was then forced off five minutes later after picking up a knock in an attempted clearance, Pepe coming on in his place.
The visitors’ Liam Donnelly talked his way into a booking twelve minutes from time before Devante Cole replaced Hylton in Stephen Robinson’s final change. Lee Miller then replaced Dykes for the Lions two minutes later.
Livi passed up a golden chance to win it eight minutes from time when smart build-up play saw Devlin played in behind but his powerful effort was well kept out by Gillespie. Up the other end, Gallagher then twice came close to a goal against his old club, first seeing a looping header tipped over by Stewart before then powering Carroll’s resulting corner just over when he should perhaps have done better.
Carroll was then extremely fortunate to escape with just a yellow card in the first minute of added time when a wild lunge caught Devlin above the knee as they went for a loose ball before the match ended with the spoils shared on the opening day.
Full-time: Livingston 0-0 Motherwell
Livingston: Stewart, Devlin, Lithgow, Lamie, McMillan (Pepe 73), Bartley, Jacobs, Lawless, Souda (Sibbald 68), Pittman, Dykes (Miller 82)
Subs not used: Sarkic, Crawford, Tiffoney, Henderson
Motherwell: Gillespie, Tait, Gallagher, Dunne, Carroll, Donnelly, Campbell, Polworth, Hylton (Cole 81), Scott (Long 52), Ilic (Seedorf 45)
Subs not used: Carson, Grimshaw, Hartley, Semple
Referee: David Munro
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine