Livi moved to the top of Betfred Cup Group F after edging a forgettable game against previous group leaders Annan Athletic at Prestonfield.
In the first of two matches at the Lions’ temporary home in Linlithgow, player-boss Kenny Miller struck the only goal on 14 minutes to seal a narrow victory and move his side to the brink of the knockout stages, despite a late red card for Ricki Lamie.
Miller made two changes to his side from the penalty shootout win at Hamilton on Tuesday night as Craig Sibbald and Jack Hamilton replaced Lee Miller and Nicky Cadden.
It was the visitors who had the first chance on seven minutes when Scott Hooper tried his luck from the edge of the box but his side-footed effort was well saved by Liam Kelly. The Lions took full advantage as they broke the deadlock seven minutes later as Miller latched on to a long ball before drawing Annan keeper out and calmly slotting past him.
Ryan Sinnamon picked up a yellow card for a trip on Sibbald after 20 minutes before Callum Crane burst forward from left-back before trying his luck with a long-range effort that flew over the bar. That was the last moment of note in the first half as the Lions went in at the interval with their narrow lead intact.
Half-time: Livingston 1-0 Annan Athletic
The second half started with a yellow card for the visitors’ David Wilson for a lunge on Sibbald before the Lions came within a whisker of doubling their lead moments later when Scott Robinson cut the ball back for Miller but he fired a low shot against the post.
Scott Pittman picked up Livi’s first yellow card on 57 minutes for a high challenge before the Lions went close again two minutes later. Hamilton did well to put Mitchell under pressure and, when he spilled the ball, it broke to Robinson but his effort was cleared off the line.
Hamilton then came close to a goal of his own on 65 minutes as he thundered an effort on goal but the post came to the visitors’ rescue once again. That would be his last act as he made his way off ten minutes later to be replaced by Jack McMillan in Livi’s first change.
The Lions made their second change on 83 minutes as Keaghan Jacobs returned from injury to replace Sibbald before Robinson tried his luck with a chipped effort a minute later was well saved by Mitchell.
A nervous finish was assured for Livi on 87 minutes as Ricki Lamie was shown a straight red card after catching an opponent high with a mistimed tackle. Boss Miller moved quickly to shore up his defence as he replaced himself with Alan Lithgow, which allowed the Lions to comfortably see out the remaining moments and remain unbeaten in the Betfred Cup.
Full-time: Livingston 1-0 Annan Athletic
The Lions conclude their group campaign next Saturday with a home match against Berwick Rangers, again to be played at Prestonfield, knowing that victory will seal their place in the knockout stages.
Livingston: Kelly, Lamie, Crane, Halkett, Gallagher, Byrne, Pittman, Robinson, Sibbald (Jacobs 86), K.Miller (Lithgow 90), Hamilton (McMillan 76)
Subs not Used: Stewart, Saunders, Knox, Clark
Goals: K.Miller (14)
Annan Athletic: Mitchell, Creaney, Sonkur, Watson, Hooper, Johnston (Fergusson 59), Sinnamon, Wilson, Roberts (Moxon 69), Wallace (Smith 45), Muir
Subs not used: Brannan, Minto, Murphy
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine