Davie Martindale made 5 changes from the side that were beaten 3-1 at Fir Park last weekend, as the Livi boss looked for a reaction following a six game winless run.
Jackson Longridge returned to the side, making his first appearance in 5 weeks after injury. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas made his first start since Livingston’s 2-0 win at Pittodrie, meanwhile Jason Holt and Scott Pittman returned to the starting eleven. Alan Forrest was the fifth and final change.
Livi started the more dominant side, playing on the front foot and controlling most of the ball despite Accies looking threatening on the counter attack.
This early pressure was rewarded as the hosts took a 1-0 lead on 16 minutes in incredible fashion. From a well-worked throw-in between Nicky Devlin and Marvin Bartley, the full back drove into the box, beating two Accies defenders and laying the ball into the feet of Emmanuel-Thomas. With his back to goal, the striker held off his man, and unleashed his inner Thierry Henry as he flicked the ball up for himself to volley into the top corner. A real goal of the season from JET, who made it 5 for the season.
With just a point enough to secure a top six spot, the Lions were in a good position, but lost concentration on the half hour mark as the visitors capitalised.
After his wonder-strike, Emmanuel-Thomas was robbed of possession in the middle of the park by Brian Easton whose tackle found Callum Smith. The striker worked a shooting opportunity from outside the box, and fired beyond the outstretched McCrorie to draw his side level.
The Lions tried to retake the lead immediately, and worked a great chance through Scott Pittman. Longridge’s ball forward was headed down brilliantly by Emmanuel-Thomas, into the path of the on-running Pittman. Just outside the box, the midfielder met the ball on the half volley but dragged his shot just wide of the post.
Livi continued to dominate, and nine minutes before the break they deservedly went back in front.
Some more fantastic attacking play by man of the match Nicky Devlin got Livingston into a dangerous position. The defender breezed past two men down the right and fired a cross from the by-line into a dangerous area. The ball hit Accies’ Lee Hodson and fell into the path of Scott Pittman, the right man in the right place who couldn’t miss from close range!
It was Pittman’s 15th Premiership goal for the Lions, taking him level with club legends Burton O’Brien and Derek Lilley for top flight goals scored by Livingston players! A remarkable feat, and there’s no doubt he will break that record at some point in the future!
Livi went into the break 2-1 in front, knowing that a well-drilled performance in the second half would be enough to secure all three points and confirm a top six spot!
There were a few threats from Accies as they tried to get forward more and switch up their counter attack approach.
Bruce Anderson felt he was fouled in the box as he went down claiming a penalty, but those appeals were waved away by referee Kevin Clancy.
With just under 15 minutes to play, Accies squandered a golden opportunity to take the lead. A fantastic through ball from Scott Martin found Ross Callachan, but one on one with McCrorie, the midfielder couldn’t place the ball past the goalkeeper as his effort just trickled wide of the post!
With three minutes to play, substitute Josh Mullin curled an audacious effort from 30 yards off the crossbar which would’ve sealed the three points.
But, it didn’t matter in the end as Livingston ran out 2-1 winners, securing another incredible top-half finish for the second season on the trot.
It’s an important victory too, as it stops a run of six games without a win; giving the Lions momentum going into a tough fixture at home to Hibs next Saturday!
Livingston: McCrorie, Devlin ▊, Fitzwater, Guthrie, Longridge, Bartley, Holt ▊, Sibbald (⇔ Serrano 84 ), Pittman, Forrest (⇔ Mullin 78 ), Emmanuel-Thomas (⇔ Poplatnik 89)
Subs not used: Maley, Ambrose, McMillan, Lawson, Kabia, Tiffoney
Goals: Emmanuel-Thomas (16), Pittman (36)
Hamilton Academical: Fulton, Odoffin, Easton, Hamilton, Anderson, S.Martin, A.Martin ▊, Munro, Hodson (⇔ Hughes 55), Smith ▊ (⇔ Moyo 90), Callachan
Subs not used: Gourlay, Stirling, Trafford, Stanger, Mimnaugh, Slaven, Redfern
Goals: Smith (30)
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Match Report: Calum Brown