Saturday 19 November 2011

Irvine Meadow XI 0 - 6 Livingston
HT (0 - 4)

With confidence high after a fantastic victory against Hamilton just seven days earlier, the Lions turned their attentions to the Scottish Cup. The third round draw had thrown up a trip into the unknown for Gary Bollan’s team as they made the journey to take on junior side Irvine Meadow for the first time.

The same starting eleven from that Hamilton win took to the field knowing that ‘the Medda’ would be hoping to hit the headlines with a famous cup shock.

If there was ever a way to calm any nerves that may have been lingering, then opening the scoring inside five minutes would be up there with the best of them. Instant pressure from Livi seen them stroke the ball around the edge of the box, and after Rory Boulding laid the ball back for Marc McNulty, the in-form youngster made no mistake, firing a low, right-foot shot into the bottom corner.

It was a disastrous start for the junior side but if anything, conceding the goal appeared to spark some energy into their play. A long free kick into the box from Kevin McDonald fell brilliantly for Richard Barr but he prodded the ball wide from six yards out. Midfielder David Hamilton was then presented with another good opportunity after a great cross from Mark McLennan but his header was well saved by Andy McNeil. Moments later, another hopeful ball forward from McLennan was flicked on by Michael Hughes, sending Barr clear through on goal but Kyle Jacobs managed to get across and halt his run.

Had the home side been able to make more of those chances, the game could have steered in a very different direction. However, Livi’s next attack saw them double their lead. Keaghan Jacobs’ pass to Boulding was dinked forward for McNulty and he again did the business with another low drive beating Michael Wardrope in goal.

It wasn’t long before McNulty capped his Scottish Cup debut with a hat-trick either. After Mark Fotheringham broke up the play in the middle of the park, he picked up the loose ball and drove forward, beating three players before hammering in his third of the day. Unfortunately in doing so, the young striker picked up a niggle and with the game looking safe, he was soon replaced by the fit again Iain Russell.

Before Russell had time to get warmed up and ready for action though, McNulty was involved in the move that lead to goal number four. Paul Watson’s pass forward was back heeled by McNulty into the path of Bobby Barr and he drove past Zander Ryan on the left wing before pulling the ball back to the edge of the box. Kenny Deuchar let the ball roll past him into the path of Boulding and after a neat turn to beat his defender, the ex-Bradford front man drilled the ball home for his third goal of the season.

The half-time break came at a good time for Irvine Meadow with Livi looking prolific in front of goal but as the teams emerged for the second half, the home side looked to have a bit more fight about them and straight away Hamilton tested McNeil with a long-range effort which the Livi number one saved well. Jason Talbot’s misplaced pass then sent Gary Fleming on a mazy run but his shot was straight at McNeil.

Much like the first-half though, not taking these chances proved decisive as the Lions stretched their lead. Some good hold up play from Deuchar brought Barr into the game and he pressed forward, slipping the ball in to Russell. Instinctively he rolled the ball across the face of the goal where Deuchar had made up the ground to tap in on the line.

Both teams then had decent efforts at goal from free kicks. First, Fotheringham curled a 25-yard effort just wide of the goal before McLennan drove his low and hard but straight into the hands of McNeil.

Iain Russell, who was making his return from injury, would have been desperate to get involved in the scoring and he nearly did after being fed in by Kyle Jacobs but his shot was saved by substitute ‘keeper Brian Hewitt.

With ninety minutes on the clock, Livi rounded off the scoring. A long ball forward from Liam Fox caused a bit of a stramash in the box and after Hewitt denied Russell, the ball broke to Bobby Barr who was left with a simple finish into the empty net.

It capped off a great day for Livi who carried out a very professional job on the junior outfit. Gary Bollan would have also been pleased with the substitute appearances from Fox, Russell and Scougall who were all returning from injury.

All in all, a great result to ensure passage into round four where first division rivals Ayr United await.

Irvine Meadow XI: Wardrope (Hewitt 42), McLennan, McDonald, Robertson, Ryan, Turner (McGuinness 66), Fleming. McGeown, Hamilton, Hughes. Barr (Strain 61)
Subs not used: Miller, Howit

Livingston: McNeil, Ky.Jacobs, Talbot, Fotheringham, C.Barr, Watson, Boulding, Kn.Jacobs (Scougall 61), Deuchar (Fox 71), McNulty (I.Russell 44), B Barr.
Subs not used: Naples, Jamieson

Att: 1500

Ref: B Cook

Match report by Dave Black