Lyndon Dykes became the first Livi player to score a top-flight hat-trick as illness-hit Ross County were routed at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Ricki Lamie broke the deadlock for the Lions on the half hour before Dykes took centre stage, firing home a right-footed effort before the interval and adding a left-footer and a header after the restart to ensure his first career treble was a perfect one.
Gary Holt made one change from the 3-3 draw in Paisley the previous week as club captain Alan Lithgow made his first start since appendix surgery in place of Aaron Taylor-Sinclair. The visitors had suffered heavily from the norovirus bug during the week but it was they who had the first chance of the game on eight minutes when ex-Livi man Josh Mullin’s cross from the right found Lee Erwin but he headed wide from close range.
The Lions were quickly on top, though, and Nathan Baxter had to be alert to gather Stevie Lawless’ 14th-minute cross with Dykes lurking. Livi went close on 21 minutes when, after Sean Kelly headed Aymen Souda’s cross behind, the resulting corner fell to Guthrie but he couldn’t react fast enough and glanced an effort wide.
They went closer still three minutes later with what would have been a goal of the season contender as Steve Lawson, Lawless all combined brilliantly to set up Pittman who saw his first-time curler superbly tipped wide by Baxter. The Lions were finally rewarded for their dominance on the half hour when Lithgow’s long throw fell to Guthrie and he got to the byline before cutting back for Lamie to slot home his first league goal for the club from six yards.
The scoreline then started to look more accurate as Livi doubled their lead ten minutes later when the ball was cleared only as far as Lawless who played a terrific first-time through ball for Dykes and he lashed home a fierce effort past Baxter at his near post. Livi had a chance to add a third before the break but Souda’s 25-yard free kick flew high and wide of the target to leave the Lions’ lead at two going into the interval.
Half-time: Livingston 2-0 Ross County
Livi got off to the perfect start after half-time and put the game to bed on 50 minutes with another brilliantly-worked goal as Lawson and Lawless dovetailed superbly down the right once again to tee up Marvin Bartley and, when his low curler was parried by Baxter, Pittman reacted quickest to cut the loose ball back for Dykes to slot home his second of the afternoon from close range.
County – who, given their illness issues, had made the bold move to wear an all-white kit for the match – made their first change just before the hour mark as Mullin made his way off to be replaced by Joe Chalmers. Craig Sibbald then picked up the game’s first booking moments later for a trip as County looked to counter. Keaghan Jacobs then replaced Souda in Livi’s first change on 67 minutes.
The Lions set the seal on their biggest win of the season (bettering their 4-1 win in the reverse fixture back in August) on 73 minutes when Bartley showed a terrific burst of pace down the right and curled in a superb cross for Dykes to glance home a header at the near post and claim the match ball as an early Christmas present.
Dykes made his way off to a standing ovation two minutes to be replaced by Chris Erskine and the substitute was quickly involved as he was bundled over in the box but his penalty appeals were waved away. Scott Robinson then replaced Sibbald shortly after.
The Lions strolled through the final ten minutes without testing the visitors any further as they sealed a second successive home win to move back into the top half of the table.
Full-time: Livingston 4-0 Ross County
Livingston: Sarkic, Lithgow, Sibbald (Robinson 79), Lamie, Guthrie, Bartley, Pittman, Lawson, Lawless, Souda (Jacobs 67), Dykes (Erskine 74)
Subs not used: Stewart, McMillan, Crawford, Odoffin
Goals: Lamie (31), Dykes (41, 50 & 73)
Ross County: Baxter, Fraser, Kelly, Morris, Erwin, McKay (Henderson 79), Mullin (Chalmers 59), Spence, Foster, Paton (Spittal 67), Stewart
Subs not used: Laidlaw, Fraser, Reid, Wright
Referee: Colin Steven
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photo Gallery: Rae Irvine