Livi’s run in the William Hill Scottish Cup was brought to an early end as a solitary second-half goal saw Morton through to the last 16 at a snowbound Tony Macaroni Arena.
An even contest was settled by Thomas O’Ware’s goal just after the hour mark as Jim Duffy’s side advanced to a fifth round tie at shock troops Annan Athletic.
Livi boss David Hopkin, in his first game after his permanent appointment, made three changes to the side from the previous week’s defeat to Queen of the South – Mark Fotheringham and Sam Stanton coming in for their debuts along with Jordyn Sheerin as Gary Glen, Jordan White and the departed Hugo Faria dropping out.
It was the Lions who had the first chance of the game as Danny Mullen raced through but fired his shot over the bar from the edge of the box. After a brief lull, Livi forced another opportunity with a free kick when Buchanan was tripped 25 yards out but Fotheringham’s effort was straight at Morton keeper Derek Gaston. Fotheringham then picked up a yellow card for a foul on Alex Samuel.
Morton forced their first chance on 25 minutes when Samuel found space and fired in a low drive which Darren Jamieson did well to push to safety. Stanton then came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock for Livi when he latched onto a header from Declan Gallagher and volleyed in a shot that looked goalbound until Gaston sprung down to his right to hold the shot.
Livi continued to create the better chances and Gallagher headed a Fotheringham corner back across for Sheerin but he could only head his effort over the bar. There was a huge let off for Livi on 34 minutes when Ross Forbes was presented with a chance to tap home from barely two yards but could only send his effort wide.
Stanton and Sheerin linked up well with Liam Buchanan to force another Livi chance but Buchanan’s shot from distance flew high and wide. Jackson Longridge then did well to win the ball back in midfield before releasing Sheerin down the left and the big striker cut inside before sending his shot straight at Gaston. That was the last chance of the half as the teams went in at the break all square.
Half-time: Livingston 0-0 Greenock Morton
The second half started with more Livi pressure as Buchanan and Sheerin linked up well but neither could find a way past the visitors’ back line. Mullen then drove in from the right hand side and fired in a low effort which trundled wide. Ex-Livi youngster Joe McKee then picked up his side’s first yellow card for a high challenge on Mullen.
Having absorbed the Lions’ early pressure, the visitors broke the deadlock on 65 minutes in frustrating simple fashion as a corner from the right was met by the unmarked O’Ware who headed home with ease to give Morton the lead. Livi boss Hopkin reacted quickly to the loss of the goal as he sent White on in place of Sheerin. White’s first action saw him pick up a yellow card before Morton’s Mark Russell followed suit.
Livi continued to push forward in search of an equaliser and came close when a Fotheringham free kick was headed back across goal by Morgyn Neill but Gaston was quick to react and block Buchanan’s effort from close range. Buchanan came close again when he reacted quickest to a blocked effort from Stanton to stab the ball wide. Moments later, a deep corner from Fotheringham was turned back into the box by Gallagher but Neill’s looping overhead kick was gathered by Gaston.
Hopkin made two quickfire changes to try and spark a comeback as Matthew Knox and Ryan Currie replaced Mullen and Scott Pittman but they were unable to have an impact as the visitors held on to book their place in the next round.
Full-time: Livingston 0-1 Greenock Morton
Livingston: Jamieson, Gallagher, Gordon, Longridge, Stanton, Fotheringham, Mullen (Currie 85), Pittman (Knox 83), Neill, Sheerin (White 67), Buchanan
Subs not used: Quinn, Gibbons, Hippolyte
Morton: Gaston, Kilday, O’Ware, McKee, Forbes (Lamie 86), Johnstone, Pepper, Russell, Samuel, Gasparotto, McManus
Subs not used: McGowan, Miller, Barr, Quitongo, McWalters, Tennant
Goals: O’Ware (65)
Referee: Craig Charleston
Match Report: Andy Crawford