Lions held by resurgent Staggies but finish pre-season unbeaten.
Livingston hosted Ross County at the Tony Macaroni Arena today in their third and final pre-season friendly before next weekend’s opening Premiership fixture against St Mirren.
Gary Holt made one change from Wednesday’s victory at Kilmarnock, with Robbie Crawford replacing Craig Sibbald in midfield.
Livi were the first to threaten. On 11 minutes, an Alan Forrest free kick was whipped in from the right and met by the head of Jon Guthrie, but the defender’s effort sailed wide.
Scott Pittman was next to see an effort go just past the target. A great flick on by Lyndon Dykes put Alan Forrest in down the left. His cut back found Pittman just inside the box, but the midfielder’s striker flew over the bar.
On the half hour mark, Nicky Devlin nearly put the Lions in front after a superb marauding run from right back. He took the ball well on his chest and sprinted past his man, firing a shot across goal only to see it whistle narrowly wide.
Two minutes later, Livingston had the opening goal that they had teased earlier. Fitzwater found Devlin on the right wing, but this time the full back opted to cross rather than take on his man. His pinpoint delivery found the head of Dykes who nodded past Laidlaw to give the Lions the lead.
Ross County had their first real chance of the half with five minutes to play. Former Livi man Josh Mullin crossed from the right into Ross Stewart, but the striker’s effort didn’t trouble Robby McCrorie.
Efe Ambrose and Lyndon Dykes had a chance each just before the break, but neither could hit the target from difficult angles as the Lions went in 1-0 up at half time.
At the interval, Livi made three changes; with Craig Sibbald, Scott Robinson and Salim Kouider-Aissa replacing Robbie Crawford, Alan Forrest and goalscorer Lyndon Dykes.
Immediately after the break, two of the new arrivals were involved in an attack for the hosts. Kouider-Aissa won the ball from a Staggies defender after some forward pressure, and played through Scott Robinson who squared to Pittman. The midfielder was one on one with Laidlaw, but the goalkeeper rushed out to block the finish.
But, just a couple of minutes later, the Lions doubled their lead through new signing Kouider-Aissa. The striker met Ciaron Brown’s powerful long-throw with a header, and flicked into the bottom corner to open his, albeit uncompetitive, account for the club.
On 55 minutes though, Ross County had one back. After a stramash in the box following a corner, the ball fell nicely to Ross Stewart who unleashed a powerful strike into the top corner from around 12 yards to make it 2-1.
Determined to restore their two-goal advantage, Livingston immediately headed up the other end of the pitch. After being found on the left wing by Sibbald, Pittman squared the ball across the box looking for the incoming Kouider-Aissa and Robinson, but Liam Fontaine, who was lucky not to find his own net, diverted the ball narrowly wide for a corner.
Livi freshened things up mid-way through the second half as Robby McCrorie, Jack Fitzwater and Marvin Bartley made way for Max Stryjek, Jack McMillan and Aymen Souda.
With 15 minutes left to play, the visitors levelled through an unlikely source. Liam Fontaine found himself forward, and was played through nicely by Billy McKay. Fontaine remained composed one on one with Stryjek, who managed to get a hand to the strike, but couldn’t keep out the defender’s powerful close-range effort.
Scott Robinson tried his luck from the edge of the box a few minutes later, but neither side created anything of note as the game went on, playing out a draw and taking a share of the spoils as it finished 2-2.
It means an unbeaten end to pre-season for the Lions after three friendlies against Premiership opposition, which will surely give Gary Holt and his side confidence going into next weekend’s opener against St Mirren.
Livingston Starting XI: McCrorie, Brown, Guthrie, Fitzwater, Ambrose, Devlin, Bartley, Crawford, Pittman, Forrest, Dykes
Subs: Stryjek, Pignatiello, Kouider-Aïssa, Tiffoney, Sibbald, Robinson, Souda, Taylor-Sinclair, Hamilton, Sibbald
Goals: Dykes (32), Kouider-Aïssa (49)
Ross County Starting XI: Laidlaw, Williamson, Tremarco, Fontaine, Watson, Tillson, Gardyne, Kelly, McKay, Stewart, Mullin
Subs: Reid, MacKinnon, Paton, Erwin, Wright, Munro
Goals: Stewart (55), Fontaine (75)
Match Report: Calum Brown