Livi returned to winning ways and moved into the top half of the Ladbrokes Premiership with a comfortable victory over Motherwell at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
A goal in each half from Stevie Lawless and Craig Halkett were enough for the Lions as a dominant performance sealed a first win in five matches.
Gary Holt made three changes to his starting line up from the 3-0 defeat to Rangers as Lawless, Nicky Cadden and Jack Hamilton came in for Bobby Burns, Steve Lawson and Scott Robinson, who all dropped to the bench.
It was the visitors who had the first sight of goal inside two minutes as a cross from the left was met by a fine header by Curtis Main that was brilliantly kept out by Liam Kelly, though the referee had already blown for a foul by the ‘Well striker in any case. Livi swiftly took control and forced a couple of corners without testing Mark Gillespie in the visitors’ goal.
The Lions came close to breaking the deadlock on 14 minutes when a long throw from Alan Lithgow dropped to Lawless but his close range effort was well smothered by Gillespie. The visitors then had a half-hearted appeal for a penalty swiftly dismissed by ref Euan Anderson after a tangle of legs between Halkett and Danny Johnson.
Livi finally got the reward their dominance deserved on 22 minutes when another Lithgow long throw fell perfectly for Lawless to slam a fine, first-time effort past Gillespie who got a touch but was beaten by the pace on the ex-Well man’s strike.
Hamilton picked up a yellow card on 34 minutes for a strong aerial challenge with Tom Aldred – probably a correct decision but not consistent with the referee’s handling of similar incidents earlier in the match. Gaël Bigirimana then followed him into the book two minutes later got a late challenge on Halkett.
The Lions almost went 2-0 up on 39 minutes when Cadden did brilliantly down the left and fired in a good, low cross that Hamilton met but could only scoop his effort high over the bar. Lawless then saw an effort blocked at the far post as Livi were kept to a single goal lead at the break.
Half time: Livingston 1-0 Motherwell
The visitors made a change at the interval as Bigirimana was replaced by Alex Rodriguez Gorrin and unfortunately substitutions were the only moments of note during the early part of the second half as the visitors used their full complement by the 64th minute as they tried to turn the tide.
First, Elliot Frear replaced Allan Campbell on 59 minutes before Ryan Bowman replaces the ineffectual Main five minutes later. Livi then made their first switch on 68 minutes as Robinson replaced Cadden. Jack McMillan then replaced Hamilton six minutes later.
Kelly had been given very little to do but showed his concentration hadn’t been dulled as he produced a magnificent save to keep out a back post effort from Barry McGuire after he had stretch to get on the end of Rodriguez Gorrin’s cross.
Steve Lawson replaced Lawless with ten minutes to play and quickly had the fans off their feet with a quite stupendous piece of skill as the ball came down with snow on it and he not only killed it stone dead but, in the same movement, spun into space and drove toward before playing in Robinson.
The ex-Hearts man’s shot was blocked but the resulting corner brought Livi their second goal as Keaghan Jacobs’ corner was met at the near post by Halkett and he steered his header across goal into the far corner of the net.
That goal ended the visitors’ hopes of, what would have been, an undeserved point and the Lions eased through the remaining minutes to secure a well-earned win and move up to sixth place in the top flight ahead of Wednesday night’s trip to Kilmarnock.
Full-time: Livingston 2-0 Motherwell
Livingston: Kelly, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Lamie, Lawless (Lawson 80), Byrne, Jacobs, Pittman, Cadden (Robinson 69), Hamilton (McMillan 75)
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Kaja, Burns, Sibbald
Goals: Lawless (22), Halkett (83)
Motherwell: Gillespie, Mbulu, Aldred, Maguire, Grimshaw, Bigirimana (Gorrin 45), Campbell (Frear 59), Turnbull, Tait, Main (Bowman 64), Johnson
Subs Not Used: Ferguson, Rose, Sammon, Donnelly
Referee: Euan Anderson
Match Report: Andy Crawford