After an opening day defeat in Paisley, Livingston looked to bounce back as Premiership football returned to West Lothian for the third consecutive season as the Lions welcomed Hibernian to the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Gary Holt made two changes from the 1-0 defeat to St Mirren, with Ciaron Brown and Scott Robinson replacing Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and Alan Forrest.
Livi had the first chance of the match inside the opening ten minutes. Lyndon Dykes used his body well to hold off Paul Hanlon on the right-hand side as he fired in a dangerous cross to the front post for Scott Robinson. The former Hearts man was first to the ball, but his close-range effort from a tight angle went wide of Ofir Marciano’s front post.
On 22 minutes, the visitors were in front through the talismanic Kevin Nisbet. Daryl Horgan did very well down the left wing, faking to cut inside and shifting the ball on to his left foot as he drilled a low ball to the back post for Nisbet who was there to tap home for his first goal in green.
Then, on 36 minutes, the former Dunfermline man grabbed his second of the afternoon after some slack defending by the Lions. Again, Horgan did well on the left wing, this time whipping a ball in with his right foot to Nisbet. The striker got in between Jon Guthrie and Ciaron Brown and, despite a hand by McCrorie, headed into the far corner to make it 2-0 to the Hibees.
Five minutes before the break, Hibs piled the misery on Livingston as Christian Doidge made it three with a tap-in from close range. Following a stramash in the box from a Joe Newell corner, Ryan Porteous hooked the ball into a dangerous area for Nisbet who diverted an effort towards goal. The ball fell perfectly to Doidge, and Hibs’ top scorer last season opened his 2020/21 account to give his side a three-goal advantage going into the break.
Livingston made a couple of changes at half-time as they looked to drastically improve from their dismal first-half display. Nicky Devlin and Craig Sibbald were replaced by Alan Forrest and debutant Matej Poplatnik.
Forrest was involved immediately as he fed Robinson through the middle, but his shot from just inside the box was comfortably stopped and held by Marciano.
Livingston were handed a lifeline a couple of minutes before the hour mark when Poplatnik was shoved in the box by Porteous, as referee Euan Anderson pointed to the spot. Top scorer last season Lyndon Dykes stepped up, and sent Marciano the wrong way to get his first of the new campaign, and give his side belief of a comeback.
Livi went searching for more goals in hope of salvaging something from the match, but created very little as the visitors remained resolute.
Any chance of a fight back was ended when Euan Anderson pointed to the spot on a second occasion, this time for a foul by Marvin Bartley on substitute Melker Hallberg. Immediately, Kevin Nisbet, already on a double, ran to collect the ball and put it on the spot. He confidently stepped up and slotted past McCrorie, who guessed correctly, to notch Hibs’ fourth, and his third, of the afternoon, claiming his hat trick and the match ball.
The 4-1 defeat leaves the Lions in 11th position after two defeats from their first two. But, there’s a chance to put things right on Wednesday when Gary Holt’s side travel to Motherwell to take on Stephen Robinson’s Steelmen, who have also lost their opening two.
Livingston: McCrorie, Devlin (⇔ Forrest 45), Fitzwater (⇔ Kouider-Aïssa 81), Guthrie, Brown, Ambrose, Bartley ▊, Sibbald (⇔ Poplatnik 45), Pittman, Robinson (⇔ Tiffoney 73), Dykes
Subs not used: Stryjek, McMillan, Taylor-Sinclair, Crawford, Souda
Goals: Dykes (60 pen)
Hibernian: Marciano, McGinn, Porteous ▊, Hanlon, Doig, Boyle, Gogic, Newell, Horgan (⇔ Hallberg 77), Doidge, Nisbet (⇔ Gullan 90)
Subs not used: Dabrowski, Gray, McGregor, Stevenson, Stirling, , Murray, Allan
Goals: Nisbet (24, 37 & 81 pen), Doidge (41)
Referee: Euan Anderson
Match Report: Calum Brown