A hat-trick by debutant journeyman Kenny Deuchar helped Livingston to a deceptively comfortable looking victory. With Livingston twice coming from behind and finishing the game with 10 men, the victory was far from easy as the score suggests.
The first half was an even, end-to-end game with both sides having close moments throughout, though each failed to trouble the keeper. That was until the 19th minute where former East Fife player-manager, Stevie Crawford, managed to net from a rebound, following a good save by visiting keeper Tony Bullock.
Livingston huffed and puffed for the remainder of the half and Liam Fox, Rafaelle De Vita and Keaghan Jacobs all had excellent opportunities to level the scores. East Fife were the closest to scoring however, with the Livingston defence just managing to clear off the line from a cross.
Despite the opportunities, neither side managed to add to the goal tally, and it was ex-Livi gaffer John Robertson who went into the half-time break the happier manager.
Gary Bollan’s half time talk seemed to have done its work in the early period of the 2nd half however, as the Lions came out fighting for the equaliser. Just 2 mins in a Livingston shot rebounded to defender Michael O’Byrne who was unlucky to see his header cleared for a corner.
Livingston weren’t made to wait long though. A well played pass across the box by De Vita to the perfectly positioned Kenny Deuchar saw his first goal from close range on 57 mins.
Just minutes later, East Fife made it 2-1 from the penalty spot after O’Byrne was harshly adjudged to have fouled in the box. Robert Sloan successfully put the ball past Tony Bullock on 61mins.
The Lions fans weren’t made to wait long for a quick equaliser. A long free kick 65 mins in from the half way line found Kenny Deuchar in the box to tap home his second of the match.
The game settled down for a short while until the 80th minute when Mick O’Byrne received his marching orders for a rash two footed challenge, leaving the visiting fans feeling it was all over.
However it was the Lions who were to celebrate next, with a goal by substitute Iain Russell. A shot by Craig Barr from the edge of the box was deflected into a neat loop by Russell, tricking the goalkeeper and resulting in a goal with just 8 mins left.
The game was not over though, and with just 3 minutes to go, Deuchar made it a perfect three. A cross by Keaghan Jacobs found Deuchar’s head, and the Good Doctor made no mistake in finding the back of the net.
With a much changed squad from Saturday’s annihilation at Peterhead, it was a much improved performance with a hunger for goals. There were still areas with a need for improvement but fans and manager alike will have gone home happy at a good result.
And Kenny Deuchar will be delighted with a debut hat-trick: a first for any Livingston or Meadowbank Thistle player.
East Fife : Brown, Durie, Ovenstone, McGowan, Smart, Muir, Linn, Crawford (Hamilton 77), Hislop (Weir 76), Sloan, Johnstone (Young 73)
Subs Not Used: Hislop, Weir
Livingston: Bullock, C.Barr, Talbot, Hamill, O'Byrne, Watson, Fox, Kn.Jacobs, Deuchar, De Vita (Russell 78), Conway (Malone 83).
Subs Not Used: McDowall, Sinclair, Ky.Jacobs
Report: Chris Naismith