The Lions recorded a first win of the 2020/21 season thanks to a second-half Jon Guthrie header after County defender Carl Tremarco had seen red for a second yellow card.
Perhaps still looking to confirm his strongest starting XI, Gary Holt made three changes to the team that went down to Aberdeen last Sunday, with Efe Ambrose, Julien Serrano and Lars Lokotsch coming in to replace Jack Fitzwater, Jack McMillan and Jason Holt.
That meant first starts for the club for both Serrano and Lokotsch with the latter leading the line and Scott Robinson, who had played in the lone striker role last weekend, dropping in behind him alongside Scott Pittman and Alan Forrest.
The first chance of the game fell to Scott Pittman – and what a chance it was. Nicky Devlin done excellently to get down the right and fire across the face of goal for Pittman but he couldn’t adjust his feet quickly enough and scooped the ball over the bar with the goal gaping.
Moments later, Pittman was involved again, this time taking a clatter from Tremarco on 8 minutes – with the County defender going into the book, a caution that would come back to haunt him later.
A foul on Stewart by Bartley would give the visitors the best chance of the half as captain Vigurs stepped up to fire the free-kick towards goal from 30 yards out but it didn’t trouble McCrorie who saved and held.
Lokotsch would almost mark his debut with a goal just before half-time. Alan Forrest delivering a fantastic ball into the box and the big German rose highest to head beyond Laidlaw in the County goal but the ball would crash against the bar and spin over for a goal-kick.
Into the second-half and with only 5 minutes played, that early yellow card for Tremarco would prove important as he clipped Devlin as the full back looked to drive to the touchline and referee John Beaton had no choice but show him a second yellow and see the Staggies reduced to 10 men.
It would only take the Lions 14 minutes to capitalise on that extra man. A series of corners resulted in Alan Forrest taking a short one to Serrano who whipped a fantastic ball into the danger area where Jon Guthrie got between two markers and leapt highest to head the ball into the bottom corner.
It was a goal that had been coming all game for the Lions and a sense of relief came with it perhaps, knowing that the away side were going to look to sit in and get away with a point. A towering header from Guthrie and he’ll be delighted to be off and running for the season.
The Lions would go on to dominate the final 25 minutes without really forcing too many saves from Laidlaw. A Devlin cross was just too high for Pittman at the back post before Forrest fired across the face of goal but substitute Scott Tiffoney couldn’t turn the ball goalward.
The referee would blow for full-time, with a red card then shown for County manager Stuart Kettlewell who perhaps had too much to say as the teams left the park.
A big three points to lift the Lions off the bottom of the table and give the squad a lift going in to the international break. Next up – another home tie at the Tony Macaroni Arena against Hamilton Accies on the 12th September.
Livingston: McCrorie, Serrano ▊, Guthrie, Ambrose, Devlin, Bartley, Sibbald (⇔ Holt 52), Pittman, Forrest, Robinson, Lokotsch (⇔ Tiffoney 81)
Subs not used: Stryjek, McMillan, Taylor-Sinclair, Poplatnik, Crawford, Kouider-Aïssa, Hamilton
Goals: Guthrie (64)
Ross County: Laidlaw, Watson, Iacovitti, Donaldson ▊, Randall (⇔ Mullin 57), Draper ▊ (⇔ Tillson 75), Vigurs (⇔ Shaw 75), Gardyne ▊ (⇔ Kelly 75), Tremarco ▊▊, McKay (⇔ Reid 56), Stewart
Subs not used: Morris, Charles-Cook, Doohan, Paton
Referee: John Beaton
Math Report: Dave Black