Livi suffered injury-time heartbreak as they crashed out of the William Hill Scottish Cup against Championship rivals Falkirk at a chilly Tony Macaroni Arena.
Reghan Tumilty’s last-gasp effort, which found its way in with more than a little help from a deflection, settled what was an otherwise forgettable clash as the Bairns advanced to the last-16 and a tie against Highland League opposition that provides a golden chance of reaching the Quarter Finals.
David Hopkin made just one change to the Livi starting line-up from the 2-0 win at Brechin ten days earlier as Jack McMillan, back from injury and fresh from making his loan move from Motherwell permanent, came in for Keaghan Jacobs. New signings Lee Miller and Ryan Hardie were forced to wait a little longer for the debuts as both settled for a place on the bench.
The Lions came close to taking the lead inside three minutes as Alan Lithgow got on the end of a corner but saw his header cleared off the line by Peter Grant. It took a full 20 minutes for another effort of note and this time it was for the visitors as Aaron Muirhead’s deep cross found Andrew Nelson at the far post but he could only prod his first time effort wide. Nelson went close again a minute later as Louis Longridge’s corner was fumbled by Neil Alexander but Nelson’s attempted overhead kick was straight at the Livi keeper.
Falkirk enjoyed a better spell of pressure as the half wore on but did little to test Alexander who was equal to a series of crosses into the box. They did come within a whisker of taking the lead on 43 minutes though as Jordan McGhee’s free kick fizzed inches wide and into the side netting. It was so close that it fooled the Falkirk fans in the East Stand into thinking it had gone in! It hadn’t and the sides went in at the break all square.
Half-time: Livingston 0-0 Falkirk
The visitors had the first effort of note in the second half as Louis Longridge found space at the edge of the Livi box but fired his angled effort over the bar.
Up the other end, his brother Jackson linked up well with Scott Robinson to get in behind the Falkirk defence and his low cross looked set to be tapped home by McMillan at the far post but Tommy Robson got back well to turn it behind for a corner. The corner was met full on the volley by Declan Gallagher but his effort from twelve yards flew just over the bar. Steven Boyd then tried his luck from 25 yards but saw his curling effort comfortably clear the bar.
There was a huge let off for the Lions on 58 minutes when Alexander fluffed a kick straight to Nelson and he ran clean through only to sky his effort well over the bar from close range. He cast a frustrated glance at the playing surface which suggested an unfortunate bobble may have played its part. Livi made their first change on 61 minutes as Josh Mullin came on for McMillan before Declan Gallagher picked up the Lions’ first booking a minute later.
Falkirk went close again on 64 minutes when Louis Longridge’s corner was met by Grant but his looping header dropped over the bar. The Bairns sent on Alex Jakubiak for Nelson a minute later before Livi made their second change as Boyd was replaced by Miller, who received a warm reception from both sets of fans having enjoyed two good spells with Falkirk.
Shaun Byrne picked up a yellow card for a foul just inside the Falkirk half on 70 minutes before Hardie became the second Livi debutant of the evening as he came on for Robinson. Ryan Blair replaced Lewis Kidd at the same time for the visitors. Miller came close to a debut goal on 76 minutes when he got on the end of a Mullin corner but his header drifted harmlessly wide.
Jackson Longridge was booked for a foul on Tom Taiwo on 79 minutes that saw the Falkirk man forced off with an ankle injury to be replaced by Joe McKee. Hardie was next to come close to a goal on his first appearance as he beat Robbie Thomson to a free kick but saw his looping header drop just wide.
The match died a death after that but just when it looked like a replay would be needed, the Bairns snatched the victory in the 93rd minute when Livi were caught on the counter attack at the ball eventually fell to Tumilty and his mishit shot cannoned off the luckless Lithgow and found its way past Alexander to take the Bairns into the fifth round and leave the Lions crestfallen.
Full-time: Livingston 0-1 Falkirk
Livingston: Alexander, Lithgow, Halkett, Buchanan, McMillan (Mullin 61), Gallagher, Byrne, Pittman, Longridge, Boyd (Miller 66), Robinson (Hardie 75)
Subs not used: Maley, Cadden, Thompson, De Vita
Falkirk: Thomson, Kidd (Blair 74), McGhee, Muirhead, Grant, Taiwo (McKee 81), Sibbald, Longridge, Tumilty, Robson, Nelson (Jakubiak 64)
Subs not used: Mutch, Loy, Watson, Welsh
Goals: Tumilty (90)
Referee: Alan Newlands
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine