Livi roared back to winning ways with a thumping 3-0 win over Kilmarnock at the Tony Macaroni Arena that moved them up to seventh in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
The Lions were dominant throughout but had to wait until the second half to make that count as strikes from Jon Guthrie, Lyndon Dykes and Stevie Lawless sealed an emphatic scoreline that was, if anything, more flattering to the visitors.
Gary Holt made two changes to the starting line-up from the 1-1 draw with Hearts at Tynecastle as Aymen Souda and Steve Lawson came in for Keaghan Jacobs and Scott Robinson.
Livi were quickly on the front foot and forced a couple of early corners that the Killie defence were able to clear along with a couple of long throws from Dykes that failed to test the visitors back line. The first chance actually went the Ayrshire side’s way on eight minutes but Dario Del Fabro headed Rory McKenzie’s cross well over.
That was about as good as it got for Angelo Alessio’s side as Livi quickly resumed control, Souda glancing a header wide from Lawless’ cross shortly after. Souda then saw a low effort well saved by Laurentiu Branescu at his near post nine minutes later.
McKenzie was the first player into the book after 26 minutes for a cynical foul on Craig Sibbald as Livi looked to counter before another break two minutes later saw Scott Pittman release Souda down the left and he cut inside before firing low across the face of goal but no one could get on the end of it. Livi then claimed for a penalty on 34 minutes when Souda’s effort looked like it might have struck an arm but their appeals were waved away with just a corner given.
That was an almighty stramash in the Killie box on 36 minutes as Ricki Lamie almost forced home a corner at the back post but the visitors were eventually able to scramble clear. Guthrie then got on the end of a fine Souda free kick seven minutes later but could only send his header wide.
The Lions almost broke the deadlock a minute before the interval with a superb team move that saw Dykes play the ball through for Lawless and he beautifully back heeled the ball into Pittman’s path but he saw his low effort brilliantly saved by Branescu to keep the scores level at the break.
Half-time: Livingston 0-0 Kilmarnock
Having had the wind at their backs in the first half, there was a worry that Livi wouldn’t be able to dominate the match in the same way after the break but there was no need for alarm as they broke the deadlock nine minutes after the restart when Souda’s deep free kick was headed down by Lamie and Guthrie was on hand to slam the ball home from close range.
Killie made a rare foray forward on 62 minutes when Eamonn Brophy drove at the Livi defence before firing a low effort a yard wide with Matija Sarkic at full stretch – it was about as much work as the Lions stopper would have to do in the game. Livi then surged up the other end and Dykes found Sibbald who teed up Aaron Taylor-Sinclair for a low effort that was saved by Branescu.
The Lions continued to pour forward in search of a killer second goal and were rewarded on 65 minutes with a well-worked goal as Souda played in Lawless down the right and his right-footed cross was perfect for Dykes who just needed a glancing touch to steer the ball past Branescu for 2-0.
Killie made their first change on 69 minutes as Osman Sow replaced Mohamed El Makrini before McKenzie was replaced by Dom Thomas four minutes later. They then made their final change on 78 minutes as Chris Burke came on for Liam Millar, the on-loan Liverpool proceeding to throw a tantrum as he made his way into the dugout.
With the match all but won, the Lions were able to make their first change eleven minutes from time as Alan Lithgow returned from appendix surgery in place of Souda. It was a change designed to shore up the defence and protect their lead but Livi instead went up the other end and set the seal on the victory two minutes later. Dykes was played in down the right and could perhaps have gone for goal himself but selflessly chose to square for Lawless, who cut inside before firing past Branescu from ten yards.
Livi made their second change seven minutes from time as Robinson came on for Lawless before the visitors should have pulled one back soon after when a low cross found Niko Hämäläinen in acres of space at the back post with the goal at his mercy but he could fire high and wide of target from inside the six yard box. Craig Sibbald then sent an effort not too far over the bar from 30 yards a minute later before making his way off to be replaced by Jacobs in Livi’s final change.
The Lions cruised through the remaining minutes to seal their biggest win of the season and end their eight-match run without a victory in style.
Full-time: Livingston 3-0 Kilmarnock
Livingston: Sarkic, Taylor-Sinclair, Sibbald (Jacobs 87), Lamie, Guthrie, Bartley, Pittman, Lawson, Lawless (Robinson 83), Souda (Lithgow 80), Dykes
Subs not used: Stewart, McMillan, Odoffin, Erskine,
Goals: Guthrie (54), Dykes (65), Lawless (81)
Kilmarnock: Branescu, O’Donnell, Del Fabro, Bruce, Hamalainen, McKenzie (Thomas 73), Dicker, Power, El Makrini (Sow 70), Millar (Burke 78), Brophy
Subs not used: Koprivec, Johnson, Wilson, Jackson
Referee: John Beaton
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photo Gallery: Rae Irvine