Livi eased into the fourth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup with a comfortable victory over hard-working Glenafton Athletic at a bitterly cold Tony Macaroni Arena.
A Dylan Mackin double, one either side of half-time, saw the Lions through to a fourth-round clash with Falkirk though they may feel they could have won more comfortably against the battling Junior side.
David Hopkin made three changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Inverness Caledonian Thistle two weeks earlier as Gary Maley, Dylan Mackin and Dale Carrick came in for Neil Alexander, James Penrice and Danny Mullen. The visitors arrived in West Lothian having already battled through four rounds to reach this stage, seeing off Newton Stewart, Golspie Sutherland, Threave Rovers and Deveronvale to set up their first-ever competitive clash against SPFL opposition.
The match was very slow to get going and it was the visitors who threatened first on nine minutes when a foul by Declan Gallagher on Chris Dallas led to a free kick that was punched clear by Maley. The Lions’ first chance came shortly after as Alan Lithgow’s throw in was headed on by Carrick to Josh Mullin but his 25 yard effort flew high over the bar.
The Lions took command from then on and patient build-up play saw Jackson Longridge’s cross blocked before the ball was gathered by Gallagher but his cross was gathered by Brian McGarrity. The visitors did threaten again two minutes later as David Gray’s cross was headed over by Mick McCann.
Livi came within a whisker of breaking the deadlock on 18 minutes as Mullin teed up Keaghan Jacobs and his brilliant cross was met by Longridge at the back post but his downward header was well saved by McGarrity. More pressure saw Scott Pittman square for Mullin who saw his effort deflected wide for a corner.
From that corner, the deadlock was finally broken as Mullin’s cross fell kindly for Mackin and he took a touch to steady himself before firing past McGarrity. Another Livi half-chance came two minutes later as Mullin’s cross was met by Mackin but flicked his header wide of the target.
The visitors were forced into a change on 30 minutes as Ally Park went off injured to be replaced by Ally Park before Livi came close to a second four minutes later when Jacobs created space for himself and drove at goal before dragging his shot wide of the right hand post. It should have been 2-0 two minutes later when Mullin’s free kick found Gallagher unmarked at the back post but the ball got stuck under his feet and his tame effort failed to trouble McGarrity.
Livi forced another couple of chances before the interval, Dale Carrick heading a Gallagher cross straight at McGarrity before Mackin fired wide from the edge of the box as the Lions went in at the break with a one-goal lead.
Half-time: Livingston 1-0 Glenafton Athletic
The Lions started the second half strongly and Carrick latched on to Gallagher’s cross on 47 minutes but fired over the bar from close range.
Mackin almost grabbed his second nine minutes later when he got on the end of Mullin’s corner but saw his header palmed over the bar by McGarrity. Mullin then came close to a goal of his own when he did well to beat his man before firing in a low drive that McGarrity did well to save.
Livi finally gave themselves breathing space just after the hour mark thanks to brilliant wing play from Mullin as he played a smart one-two with Carrick before curling in a sumptuous cross that was met by Mackin to bullet a header past McGarrity. David Hopkin took advantage of the Lions’ comfortable lead to make his first change, sending on Nicky Cadden for Longridge.
Dale Carrick had a goal disallowed for offside on 66 minutes, firing home after being released by Pittman, before the visitors made their second change as McCann was replaced by Ryan Borris. Mackin then set up Cadden for a shot which was blocked and rolled behind for a corner which came to nothing. Both sides then made further changes on 75 minutes as Gray was replaced by Conor Lynass for Glens and Matthew Knox replaced Mullin for Livi.
Knox almost made an immediate impact as he showed quick feet to find space before trying to pick his spot with a curling effort that was well saved by McGarrity. Livi made their final change on 86 minutes as Craig Henderson came on for his professional debut in place of Mackin before Knox had the final chance with a shot from the edge of the box that McGarrity saved well as the Lions eased into the fourth round.
Full-time: Livingston 2-0 Glenafton Athletic
Livingston: Maley, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Mullin (Knox 75), Byrne, Jacobs, Pittman, Longridge (Cadden 61), Mackin (Henderson 86), Carrick.
Subs not used: Alexander, Todorov, De Vita
Goals: Mackin (20 & 61)
Glenafton Athletic: McGarrity, McAusland, Cairns, Menzies, McChesney, McKernon, Gray (Lynass 74), Park (Moore 30), Andrew. McCann (Borris 68), Dallas
Subs not used: Watson, McKnight, Marlow, Potter
Referee: Alan Newlands
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine