Livingston continued their fine run of recent form at home on Tuesday night as they overcame a resilient Forfar Athletic side in a display of clinical finishing.
The Lions propelled themselves into an early lead with an Iain Russell penalty, before sustaining their clean sheet throughout a spell of persistent pressure applied by the away side.
Two goals in the second half from De Vita and Winters saw the three points wrapped up, and extended the Lions’ lead at the top of the table to thirteen points.
The deadlock was broken in only the second minute, when Keaghan Jacobs was felled in the box. Referee David Somers pointed to the spot, and Iain Russell wasted no time in dispatching the ball low into the net off the post.
The visiting side – managed by Iain Campbell, brother of the absent Dick Campbell – then went about in search of an equaliser. A series of corners, free-kicks and possession was rebuffed by Livi’s back line, while Mark Fotheringham’s effort was brilliantly saved by Tony Bullock in the home goal. Bishop came closest for the Station Park men, smashing an effort of Bullock’s right hand post.
The half time break provided some welcome relief for the home side, who regrouped after the break to strengthen their hold on the game.
With only ten minutes played of the second half, Rafaelle De Vita managed to get on the end of a low ball across the box, and after some fine footwork, turned to lash the ball high into the net from six yards.
The goal effectively knocked the stuffing out of Forfar, yet the away team relentlessly closed down Gary Bollan’s men despite the points looking lost, and a couple of long range efforts worked the hands of Bullock in the home goal.
It was Livi, however, who looked more likely to add to their tally. Robbie Winters got on the end of an Iain Russell cross but couldn’t control the ball as it spun loose in the six yard box, while Liam Fox’s free kick was well held by Scott Gallacher.
Bullock was on his toes to tip another Fotheringham effort over the bar, but the increasingly comfortable Livi side clocked a third with a couple of minutes remaining.
Gallacher came charging out of his goal after a deep cross into the box, only to wildly flap and the ball and set up substitute Robbie Winters to coolly stroke the ball home.
In stoppage time, Forfar nearly grabbed the goal that had eluded them all evening, but Fotheringham was yet again bettered by Bullock, his rasping drive from the edge of the box was well turned round the post by the big keeper.
The win ensures Livi stay thirteen points ahead at the top, although Brechin, Ayr and Forfar have games in hand.
Livingston: Bullock, C.Barr, Talbot, Hamill, Cowan, Watson, Fox, Kn.Jacobs (Deuchar 81), B.Barr, Russell (Ky.Jacobs 82), De Vita (Winters 67)
Subs not used: Malone, McDowall
Forfar Athletic: Gallacher, Ross, Campbell, Bishop, McCulloch, Sellars, M.Fotheringham, Brady (Watson 75), Gibson (Templeman 74), Hilson, Deasley (Smith 65)
Subs not used: McLean, K.Fotheringham
Report: Calum Leslie
Half Time Draw numbers were:
1st Prize – 4369 (£300 cheque)
2nd Prize – 8287 (£20 voucher for the Livingston Football Club shop)
3rd Prize – 9087 (£10 voucher for the Livingston Football Club shop)