Livi produced another battling performance but remain winless in the Ladbrokes Championship after Hibernian claimed a narrow victory at The Tony Macaroni Arena.
The Lions made two changes to the starting XI from last weekend’s defeat to Rangers as Darren Cole and the injured Craig Sives were replaced by Morgyn Neill and Kieran Gibbons.
After a sluggish start from both sides, it was Hibs who forced the first chance of note and Livi were grateful to Darren Jamieson for a stunning save as he spread himself brilliantly to deny Jason Cummings from six yards out. Livi responded well and Ross Millen and Liam Buchanan linked up well to set up Gary Glen but he sent his 25-yard effort over the crossbar.
Hibs should have broken the deadlock on 17 minutes but Dominique Malonga, with an open goal at his mercy, contrived to fire his effort against the post – an extraordinary miss. John McGinn then picked out Cummings with a decent cross but he headed wide.
Livi were giving a good account of themselves and came close to breaking the deadlock on the half hour mark when Millen did well to win the ball and poke it through to Buchanan and he stung the palms of Hibs keeper Mark Oxley with a fierce drive. They went even closer on 39 minutes when Oxley produced a terrific save to deny Scott Pittman before Buchanan’s follow-up effort was hacked off the line.
Having survived that huge scare, Hibs set about trying to reassert themselves on the game and Cummings tried his luck with a long range effort that flew wide. Buchanan then came within inches of getting on the end of a Millen cross as Livi threatened before the interval but in the end the sides went in at the break all-square.
Half time: Livingston 0-0 Hibernian
Hibs came out strongly as the second half got underway and David Gray passed up the first chance of the half as the ball broke to him at the edge of the box but he shot over the bar on the spin.
Unfortunately for Livi, it was only a brief let-off as the visitors took the lead in controversial fashion on 50 minutes as Liam Henderson took full advantage of a soft free kick, curling a fine effort into the top corner from 20 yards. Livi boss Mark Burchill responded to the loss of the goal by sending on Jordan White and his magnificent beard in place of Gibbons.
Chances were suddenly at a premium as both sides started to rush things a bit – Livi pushing for an equaliser and Hibs looking to kill the game off. A further double change from Burchill saw Spas Georgiev and Jordyn Sheerin take the places of Glen and Buchanan.
The final chance of the game fell Livi’s way as great passing build-up play ended with Sheerin seeing an effort deflected wide and Hibs saw things out to claim a hard-fought victory.
Full-time: Livingston 0-1 Hibernian
The Lions will look to continue their imperious form in cup competitions on Tuesday night as they welcome Scottish Cup holders Inverness Caldeonian Thistle to West Lothian in the League Cup Third Round. The Highlanders’ visit is then followed by a crucial league double header with trips to Alloa and Dumbarton.
Livingston: Jamieson, Millen, Longridge, Pittman, Faria, Hippolyte, Gallagher, Neill, Gibbons (White 62), Buchanan (Sheerin 81), Glen (Georgiev 81)
Subs not used: Gould, Cole, Currie, Duckrell
Hibernian: Oxley, Gray, Henderson (McGregor 83), Hanlon, Fontaine, Bartley, Malonga (Boyle 67), McGeouch, Stevenson, McGinn, Cummings
Subs not used: Reguero, Stanton, Feruz, Forster, Martin
Goals: Henderson (50)
Referee: Barry Cook
Match Report: Andy Crawford