Saturday 23 April 2011

Airdrie Utd 2 - 4 Livingston
HT (1 - 2)

The 2nd Division Champions beat two club records on Saturday as they ran out comfortable victors over opponents Airdrie Utd at the Excelsior Stadium. 

Iain Russell became the top scoring Livi player ever, beating Leigh Griffiths’ previous record.  Meanwhile, the team became the top scoring Livingston team since the move from Meadowbank.  Goals from Russell (x2), De Vita and McNulty helped the Lions overcome the home side.

The Lions came out all guns blazing with much changed side and were two goals up within 7 minutes. Iain Russell scored his first of the game just 5 minutes in, connecting with a cross from debut defender Callum Fordyce.  His second of the game, and 23rd of the season, came from an excellent through ball by Robbie Winters with which Russell ran forward with and sent a wonderful chipped ball over the Airdrie keeper, Mark Ridgers.

The  Lions took their foot off the gas for a while and gradually the home side came back into the game.  Jamie Stevenson managed to get the ball into the back of the net with 22 mins on the clock, however the goal was chalked off for a deliberate handball after a poor kick-out by young keeper Craig McDowell.

United were determined to put the score right, and Phil Johnston and Graeme Owens both came close from set pieces, however the Livi keeper remained solid.

The home side pulled a goal back with 32 mins on the clock, Paul Lovering getting a head to a Graeme Owens free-kick, putting the ball into the back of the net.

Just minutes later the home side almost drew level, with Jamie Stevenson sending a powerful shot in which was saved by the diving arms of McDowell.

Russell had a chance to make his hat-trick seconds before the half-time whistle, connecting with a well placed overhead ball by Callum Fordyce, but was unlucky to see his clever ball go agonisingly wide of the post.

It was the home side that came out with the determination in the second half, a series of corners almost culminating in a goal for the fans to celebrate.  They were made to wait until the 55th minute for the equaliser, a great throw out by Ridgers after a Livi free-kick saw Stevenson charge up the wing and send a well placed pass to Graeme Owens who duly put the ball past the Livi keeper.

The parity lasted just 6 minutes as Livi upped the pace and striker Rafaelle de Vita connected with a David Sinclair corner, putting the ball past Ridgers for his 11th of the season. 

The Lions charge continued and Russell once again had an opportunity to complete his hat-trick, a clever chip being palmed away by Ridgers.

With 14mins to go, the visiting fans thought that they were in with a good chance of doubling the advantage, but Keaghan Jacobs cross was missed by both Robbie Winters and Iain Russell.

It was just 4 minutes later when substitute Marc McNulty, completed the scoring, connecting with a long ball by Joe Hamill, he charged past the defence and neatly chipped the keeper.

McNulty had two more chances to score in the half, one going over the bar after a Joe Hamill pass, and the other easily saved by Ridgers after a poor first touch.

The Lions looked like throwing away a good lead, but great tactical changes by manager Gary Bollan saw the visitors regain their advantage and run out comfortable victors.  Despite the league already being won, Livi show no signs of letting up continuing to fight out wins.  McDowell, Fordyce and McNulty all came into the team and did well on top of the already established youth graduates, Sinclair and the Jacobs brothers.

Airdrie Utd: Ridgers, Bain, Lovering, Devlin, Stallard, Owens, Johnston, McCord, Gemmill (Sally 66), Morton, Stevenson
Subs not used: Szpilcynski, Muir, Goodall, Blackley

Livingston: McDowall, C.Barr, D.Jacobs, Hamill, Fordyce, Watson, Winters (McNulty 77), Ky.Jacobs, De Vita (Kn.Jacobs 63), Russell (Deuchar 85), Sinclair
Subs not used: Jamieson, Conway

Att: 872

Ref: R.Dunlop

Report by Chris Naismith