For the third time already this season, it was Hamilton providing the opposition as the Lions looked to put the disappointment of Falkirk’s late winner behind them and extend their unbeaten run at the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium.
Gary Bollan started with the team that kicked-off the second-half comeback in Grangemouth, meaning the three-pronged attack of Rory Boulding, Kenny Deuchar and Marc McNulty began upfront with Kyle Jacobs drifting back to the right hand side of defence.
For Boulding, it meant a rare start and he was involved right away as the Lions went close to taking an early lead. A brilliant ball over the top sent Bobby Barr racing down the wing and he pulled the ball back for Boulding to have a strike at goal. His effort was blocked by Mark McLaughlin and the ball broke to McNulty 10 yards out but he shot over the bar. Boulding then came close again after a pacy cross from Jason Talbot but he couldn’t get enough on the flick and the ball went wide.
Livi were dominating the opening stages and Bobby Barr really should have grabbed his second goal in as many games. A great through-ball from Mark Fotheringham allowed him to get in behind the Accies back-line and after ghosting past Simon Mensing, he rounded ‘keeper David Hutton but couldn’t find the net from a tight angle.
Before Livi’s next attack, Hamilton managed a couple of long-range efforts at goal but Andy McNeil dealt with both comfortably.
McNulty and Fotheringham both had shots from distance up the other end too, with McNulty forcing a good save from Hutton and Fotheringham firing over after creating a good shooting opportunity from a well-worked short corner.
Barr was proving to be a real handful for the Hamilton defence and after haring past them again; his cross into the box couldn’t find an amber shirt and McLaughlin cleared. Kyle Jacobs then saw his 20-yard effort whistle wide of the post shortly before a Dougie Imrie free-kick down the other end resulted in the same outcome.
Hamilton ended the half with another two hopeful shots but neither Kevin McBride or Gary Fraser could beat McNeil as the teams went up the tunnel for half time.
An injury to Keaghan Jacobs forced him off at half time and Stefan Scougall, who was returning from injury himself, replaced him. It was nearly a nightmare start from the young midfielder though as he was caught in possession up field, allowing Hamilton a chance to counter-attack. Dougie Imrie did the legwork, bursting up the park and playing the ball into Grant Anderson but even after evading the late challenge of Fotheringham, he couldn’t get enough on his flick and McNeil bravely dived at his feet to prevent the danger.
After soaking up a bit of early second-half pressure, the Lions took the lead thanks to some great awareness from both Fotheringham and Boulding. Bobby Barr played a ball over the top to Boulding but knowing he was in an offside position, he raised his hands to signal he wasn’t interfering with play and in doing so, allowed Fotheringham to chase the ball down into the corner and continue play. From there, ‘Fozzie’ beat his man and fired at goal but Mensing blocked, sending ball spinning into the path of Boulding, who was now onside and able to get involved. He got the ball under control and dinked a brilliant cross towards Marc McNulty who swooped to head the ball into the bottom corner and put the home side ahead.
It was a well-deserved lead for Livi and one that was nearly doubled moments later as Jason Talbot strolled forward and hammered a shot at goal but he couldn’t hit the target.
The goal seemed to give Livi an air of confidence and it was one-way traffic for a while as the Lions began to dominate. Craig Barr was unlucky to see his header go wide after leaping well to meet Fotheringham’s free kick and fellow centre-half Paul Watson spurned a good chance at the back-post, dragging a shot wide when he really should have at least worked the ‘keeper.
Bobby Barr’s pace again allowed him to burst down the line and deliver into the box but the ball was cleared for a corner, with McNulty looking to pull the trigger. McNulty’s pass then sent Scougall one-on-one with Hutton but his low shot was too close to the ‘keeper and he saved well with his feet.
The Hamilton defenders will have had nightmares about Bobby Barr on Saturday night as yet another mazy run forward resulted in McNulty having a chance at goal but the impressive Hutton saved well again to deny the striker a second.
After being dealt a real sucker punch last week with Falkirk’s late winner, the Lions looked determined to ensure they hung on for the three points in this one. A string of crosses into the box were dealt with brilliantly by both the defence and midfield and as the ball sat up nicely for Martin Canning, he bent his shot high over the bar.
This proved to be the last chance for either team with the referee sounding for full-time and confirming an impressive home win for Livi. Another game without defeat at the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium and a victory that sent Bollan’s team into third place.
Livingston: McNeil, C.Barr, Watson, Ky.Jacobs, Kn.Jacobs (Scougall 45), Fotheringham, B.Barr, McNulty (A.Russell 90), Boulding (Cummings 87), Deuchar
Subs not used: Jamieson, Naples
Hamilton: Hutton, Mensing, Canning, McLaughlin, Imrie, McBride (Kirkpatrick 79), McAlister, Fraser (Hendrie 54), Anderson, Paterson, Spence (Chambers 54)
Subs not used: Crawford
Ref: J McKendrick
Match report by Dave Black
Half Time Draw:
1st Prize (£300) 104391
2nd Prize: 108142
3rd Prize: 106911