The Lions went into this one targeting three points against last season’s League Two champions, but knew that other results would need to go their way if they were to progress into the Last 16 as a best-placed group runner-up.
David Martindale made just one change from last weekend’s spirited ten-man comeback against Cove Rangers. The suspended Esmael Goncalves was directly replaced by last season’s top goalscorer Bruce Anderson.
Livi started as expected, with the bulk of possession and on the front foot. They created their first opening after just 11 minutes. Joel Nouble had started to create problems on the right for the Kelty defence, as he breezed beyond Peggie and McNab before delivering a cross to the back post. The delivery was brought down by Phill Cancar who was clipped by Alfie Agyeman, resulting in a straightforward decision for referee Grant Irvine – a penalty to the hosts.
Up stepped Sean Kelly from 12 yards, and the defender turned midfielder made no mistake with a calmly placed strike sending former Livi goalkeeper Darren Jamieson the wrong way. That goal sees Kelly open his account for the Lions, netting his first goal for the club.
Kelly was involved again in an attacking sense, this time he was the creator. His deep corner found Bruce Anderson at the back post, but the striker couldn’t direct his diving header towards goal.
Livingston nearly made it two just before the break. Nouble and Nicky Devlin were linking up well on the right just like they’d done towards the end of last season, and a one-two saw the captain force Jamieson into a diving stop to deny him from the edge of the box.
The visitors had a half chance on the stroke of half time. After Ayo Obileye cleared a corner, Jamie Barjonas met the ball on the volley but his strike flew well wide of the post as Livi headed in at the break one goal to the good.
From other results, it looked like Livi would need to rack up a few more goals to improve their goal difference with results elsewhere going against them as it stood.
The Lions created the first chance of the second half as Nouble cut back for Anderson just inside the box, but the striker’s effort was easily collected by Jamieson down to his right.
There was little by way of chances, as Livingston continued to dominate possession whilst Kelty looked to break on the counter at any opportunity to no avail.
On 77 minutes, the three points were wrapped up after some ingenuity by substitute Stephane Omeonga. After a throw-in, the midfielder beat Barjonas in the tackle before skipping by a few defenders toward the by-line. The Belgian sent a lovely low cross into the box for the arriving Cancar who slotted home unmarked at the back post to net his first goal for his new club.
Despite fears that a narrow margin of victory wouldn’t be enough, results elsewhere went their way and Livingston progressed to the Last 16 with Airdrieonians, Dunfermline and Hamilton all slipping up.
The triumph continues Livi’s impressive record in the competition, and despite entering the draw as an unseeded team, they’ve been rewarded with a home tie against fellow Premiership side Dundee United.
Match Report: Calum Brown
Livingston: Konovalov, Devlin©️, Fitzwater ▊, Obileye, Montaño (Cancar 6), Shinnie, Pittman, Kelly (Omeonga 65), Bahamboula (Mullin 60), Nouble, Anderson
Subs not used: Maley, Longridge, Brandon, Bitsindou, Holt
Goals: Kelly (11 pen), Cancar (77)
Kelty Hearts: Jamieson, Cameron, Peggie, Cardle ▊, Austin (Docherty 25), Barjonas (Barbour 89), Tidser (Owens 89), Philp, Hill (Sandison 79), McNab (Reilly 21), Agyeman
Subs not used: Campbell
Referee: Grant Irvine