Livi continued their phenomenal record over Celtic at the Tony Macaroni Arena as they defeated the Hoops to earn their first league victory of the season.
David Martindale made three changes from last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Dundee at Dens Park. Out went Alan Forrest, Bruce Anderson and the injured Craig Sibbald, who were replaced by Jackson Longridge, Jack McMillan and Adam Lewis.
There were some eyebrows raised as it appeared midfielder Andrew Shinnie would lead the line for The Lions with no recognised striker on the park…
The game burst into life after Adam Lewis lost the ball in the middle of the park from kick-off, prompting an early challenge from Nicky Devlin on Albian Ajeti who was driving towards Livi’s centre backs. The skipper’s name was taken by referee Euan Anderson who showed him the yellow card after just 15 seconds – surely some kind of record.
From the resultant free-kick around 25 yards from goal, David Turnbull got his effort over the wall and on target but it was held by Max Stryjek.
Liel Abada was next to try his luck from distance for the visitors. He cut inside as he was given the ball from a short corner, but the Israel international saw his speculative strike fly over the bar.
Celtic dominated the first 24 minutes of the game, but they created very little as Livingston soaked up the pressure and looked to counter attack when the opportunity presented itself.
When James Penrice dispossessed Turnbull in the middle of the park, the chance to break forward arose. Penrice found Longridge on the left who played a first-time ball into the box for Andrew Shinnie. The number nine for the day took an excellent first touch beyond Stephen Welsh before unleashing a beautiful left-footed strike into the top corner leaving Joe Hart with absolutely no chance.
Celtic were stunned, and it seemed the realisation of their poor record in West Lothian had hit them again. Tom Rogic slipped through Turnbull just inside the box, but the midfielder poked wide of the target.
The Hoops pushed for an equaliser before the break, but the last chance of the half fell to Livingston’s Jack Fitzwater. A delightful ball in from Lewis was met by the central defender and was goal bound but for the quick reactions of Joe Hart who brilliantly reached out an arm to palm the header over the bar.
Half Time: Livingston 1-0 Celtic
Seven minutes into the second half, Celtic had a decent opportunity to level. Turnbull’s corner was met by the head of Welsh, but Stryjek was down to his right very well to hold the defender’s effort.
Adam Lewis then won the ball in the middle of the park, and tried to catch Hart out from distance but put too much on it as it flew over the bar.
David Turnbull looked the most likely to try and dig Celtic out of a hole as they tried to end the rot of 1 win in 13 on the road. He tried his luck again from distance but Stryjek held again.
The Lions made three changes in quick succession as Ben Williamson, Jack McMillan and Jackson Longridge all received standing ovations from the home support as they left the pitch. They were replaced by Scott Pittman, Odin Bailey and Alan Forrest.
Ajeti went close with a header on 71 minutes after yet another Turnbull corner. The ball was drilled in at the front post and met by the Swiss striker, but he couldn’t divert towards goal.
Celtic tried to inject some fresh legs into their side as they made a triple substation with 17 to play. Soro, Bitton and Johnston replaced Rogic, Welsh and McCarthy.
Just a minute after the changes, Ajeti had arguably Celtic’s best chance of the game as he spun past Obileye on the edge of the box. With just Stryjek to beat, the striker looked to find the bottom corner but the Polish stopper was there to beat the ball away.
Livi had a decent chance to double their lead nine minutes from time, but were denied by another fine save from Joe Hart. Forrest got down the left, after he was slipped in by Bailey, and fired a strike across goal but the former England number one tipped the ball behind for a corner.
The last real chance of the game fell to Cameron Carter-Vickers around four minutes from time. The American stepped forward from defence and struck from distance, but his powerful effort flew just wide of the post.
There was a nervy moment in stoppage time as Stryjek came for a cross but dropped the ball, luckily though Fitzwater was on hand to mop up, clearing off the line as Livi desperately battled to hold on to their lead.
They did exactly that – and elation ensued amongst the home fans inside the Tony Macaroni Arena! Livingston had beaten Celtic again, making it five unbeaten against The Hoops in West Lothian, but more importantly they’d earned a fully deserved three points – their first win of the cinch Premiership campaign! A truly memorable day for David Martindale’s men after a difficult start to the season.
Match Report: Calum Brown
Livingston: Stryjek, Devlin ▊, Obileye, Fitzwater, Longridge (Forrest 65), Holt ▊, McMillan (Pittman 59), Lewis ▊, Williamson (Bailey 60), Penrice, Shinnie
Subs not used: Barden, Kelly, Montaño, Anderson
Goals: Shinnie (25)
Celtic: Hart, Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Welsh ▊ (Bitton 72), Bolingoli ▊, McCarthy (Soro 72), Turnbull, Abada, Rogic (Johnston 72), Jota
Subs not used: Bain, Scales, Montgomery, Ralston
Referee: Euan Anderson