Saturday 24 September 2011

Livingston 2 - 1 Partick Thistle
HT (1 - 0)

After a long trip to Dingwall the previous week, it was back to home comforts as the Lions welcomed Jackie McNamara and his Partick Thistle side to the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium. Livi hadn't managed a win against Partick since a 3-1 home victory in September 2008 so Gary Bollan would have been looking to put an end to that stat.

Keaghan Jacobs, David Sinclair and Cammy MacDonald all missed out through injury and Paul Watson served his suspension after his red card against Ross County. This list of unavailable players meant a start for under 19's defender Ross Docherty who tucked in on the right-hand side of an unfamiliar looking defence. Regular right back Johnny Brown moved to the left with Jason Talbot partnering Craig Barr in the centre.

Livingston were quick out the blocks and Kenny Deuchar had Scott Fox in the Thistle goal scrambling straight away. Iain Russell pressed down the left and whipped in a fantastic cross towards Deuchar and the big forward out-jumped Aaron Sinclair to header the ball down into the corner but Fox did well to shove the chance wide. Liam Fox was next to try his luck and he was desperately unlucky as he rifled a near 35-yard free-kick just over the bar.

Partick began fighting back into the game and Kris Doolan really should have given them the lead. Sinclair did brilliantly to work himself some space down the left wing and after firing a low cross into the box, Doolan peeled off his marker but shot over the bar from 8 yards out. Doolan then turned provider, and if it hadn't been for an excellent bit of brave defending from Craig Barr, Christie Elliot would have been celebrating a goal. A long ball forward from Paul Paton was well controlled by Doolan and after turning Barr, he laid it back for Christie who had made a run to the penalty spot. Just as it looked like he had picked his spot and was sweeping the ball home, Craig Barr lunged out of nowhere to make a fantastic block and see the ball to safety.

This was to prove a very decisive block as it wasn't long before the Lions took the lead. After Johnny Brown's throw-in down the left-wing, he and Kyle Jacobs battled hard to keep possession in the corner. When the ball rolled on to Brown's right foot, he delivered a brilliant cross into the box where Kenny Deuchar again beat Sinclair in the air but this time his header was arrowed to perfection and beat Fox at his back-post.

Livingston had the next chance of the game following the goal and Brown was unlucky not to get on the score-sheet himself. The ever impressive Stefan Scougall beat his man down the wing and fed the ball into Brown who had burst into the box but his strike was deflected wide for a corner.

Partick were dominating as half-time approached and wasted a hat-trick of chances to level the game. Paul Cairney's header sent David Rowson through on goal but McNeil got out quickly to block the shot. McNeil again thwarted Rowson moments later. A headed clearance from Scougall fell perfectly for Rowson 18 yards out and he rocketed a shot at goal but McNeil dived to his left to save and hold the attempt. The last chance of the half fell to Sinclair who was next to cause the Livi back-line trouble and after jinking past Jacobs and Docherty, his low drive whistled wide of the post with McNeil beaten.

Only four minutes into the second-half and Partick found an equaliser. A corner into the box wasn't dealt with and despite Jacobs half clearing the ball, it fell to Elliot who reacted quickly to smash the ball high into the net. It was a goal that had definitely been coming for Partick and it seemed to inject life into the Glasgow side as they then pushed on, looking to take the lead.

Paul Cairney's cross deflected off the head of Kyle Jacobs and just looped over the bar with McNeil scampering back towards goal. Livi substitute Michael Travis then breathed a huge sigh of relief after his slack pass across the back allowed Partick to have a chance. His pass to Talbot was short and Cairney nicked in and after playing a one-two with Elliot, he fired at goal when through one-on-one but McNeil produced another fine save to keep him at bay. Shortly after, Stephen O'Donnell curled a shot just too high after some good work from Paul Paton.

In amongst these Partick chances, Iain Russell almost nicked in to restore Livi's lead. A mix-up between Sinclair and Balatoni gifted Russell a chance but as he rounded Fox, the ball ran too wide and he just couldn't sneak it in as his shot rolled wide.

As the game neared a close, Livingston got on the upper-hand and started to create. Bobby Barr fought well down the right and found Iain Russell in the box. His shot was blocked but fell into the path of Marc McNulty but he could only volley straight at Fox.

As it looked like we'd be heading for our fourth successive 1-1 draw, a goalmouth scramble resulted in Kyle Jacobs rocketing home a winner. Barr again battled down the wing and fired a cross into the box. Fox spilled the cross at the feet of Iain Russell who scooped the ball into the air and down onto the line where two Thistle defenders headed clear, only to Scougall who scuffed a shot at goal which was also cleared. This time however, the clearance found Jacobs on the edge of the box and after chesting the ball under control, he let rip with an unstoppable drive which flew into Fox's top corner. This was greeted with a 10 man pile-up as the players showed their delight with the goal, especially given the way the last home match had ended.

There was no chance for Partick to get back into it as the referee's full-time whistle sounded quickly after the restart. A smash and grab win for Livi but one that sent them third in the table and prolonged the undefeated home run.

Livingston: McNeil, Brown (Travis 67), C.Barr, Talbot, Ky.Jacobs, Docherty, Fox, Scougall, B.Barr, Russell, Deuchar (McNulty 71)
Subs not used: Jamieson, Gray, Boulding

Partick Thistle: Fox, Balatoni, Archibald, Sinclair, Paton, Cairney, Rowson, Erskine (O'Donnell 76), Hutton, Elliot, Doolan (Stewart 84)
Subs not used: Scully, Lindsay, Flannigan

Att: 2,251

Ref: G Salmond

Match report by Dave Black