Saturday 21 January 2012

Livingston 2 - 2 Queen of the South
HT (1 - 1)

Queen of the South were the next visitors to the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium and following on from the previous week’s 3-0 loss at Dens Park, the Lions were keen to record their first victory of 2012.

Gary Bollan made three changes to his side, with the fit again Jason Talbot joining Marc McNulty and David Sinclair in the starting line-up at the expense of Kyle Jacobs, Kenny Deuchar and the suspended Mark Fotheringham.

Much the same as the week before, the Lions found themselves a goal down in the early stages having only mustered one half chance in the first quarter of an hour themselves. Keaghan Jacobs’ slack pass put pressure on Sinclair and Fox and they were quickly dispossessed by Scott McLaughlin. He found Daniel Carmichael out wide and the winger drilled a low shot which Andy McNeill could only parry, allowing Tom Brighton the easiest finish of his career as he walked the ball over the line from two yards out. 

This seemed to spark the home side into life and they quickly began to attack the Queens backline. Iain Russell fed a ball through to Bobby Barr and he ran at his marker before knocking the ball across goal for McNulty but McLaughlin slid in first to put the ball behind for a corner.

The next Livi attack did provide an equaliser though and how apt it was coming from captain Liam Fox. Russell’s flick on the edge of the area found McNulty but the youngster was forced wide by his marker. Showing great determination though, he kept the ball under control and managed to pull it back into the danger area where Fox, already celebrating becoming Livingston’s record appearance holder, was on hand to slam the ball beyond Lee Robinson in the Queens goal.

It was a run and finish we’ve so often come to expect from Fox, arriving late into the penalty box and unleashing a rocket into the net. This goal meant the Lions went up the tunnel for half time with a new belief that they could go on to dominate the match.

When the teams re-emerged, this proved to be the case and the Queens defence were quickly under pressure. Maurice Ross found Iain Russell down the left and after checking inside, he curled an effort goal wards but Robinson saved well. Fox and McNulty then linked up well with the latter beating his man down the wing and again, pulling the ball back into the box for Fox but this time the skipper teed up Jacobs who’s shot deflected off Craig Reid and wide for a corner.

Iain Russell was then left irate by referee David Somers after being cynically chopped down when through on goal. A big goal kick from McNeill was flicked on by McNulty and as Russell knocked the ball past Reid, he was sent tumbling to the deck but Somers didn’t deem the chance a clear goal-scoring opportunity and only booked the defender.

It was a real case of one-way traffic now and Maurice Ross was next to test Robinson. A deep cross into the box from Jason Talbot was flicked on by McNulty and Ross fired a powerful strike at goal, which was parried back to him, but he sent his second effort wide of the target.

Despite being on the end of this onslaught, Queens arguably created the best chance of the second-half. Carmichael collected the loose ball and threaded a pass through to Gavin Reilly but despite being under no pressure, he shot straight at McNeill from 12 yards out.

That lapse in concentration was quickly forgotten though as the Lions went up the park and took the lead. David Sinclair caught the Queens defence napping and whilst shaping up to cross a free kick, he rolled it to the edge of the box for Bobby Barr. His shot was deflected but fell into the path of Stefan Scougall and the substitute made no mistake in rifling his shot into the goal.   

With only 15 minutes to go at this point, the Livi faithful would have been forgiven for thinking their side would go on and close out the game. That wasn’t to be the case as Somers again made a call that would anger the home side. Ryan Smilie’s ball over the top sent Reilly on a race against Craig Barr and with the Queens forward looking likely to outpace Barr, the slightest of nudges sent him tumbling to the ground. The push looked to have occurred outside the box, with the momentum carrying Reilly into the box but Somers awarded the penalty. Central defender Ryan McGuffie stood up and sent McNeill the wrong way, burying his shot in the bottom corner.

Livingston quickly set about trying to regain the lead and Russell really should have taken care of that. Scougall broke free down the left and picked out an unmarked Russell in the middle of the box and although having time to steady himself, he opted to shoot first time but Robinson got down well to tip his effort round the post. From the resultant corner, Paul Watson’s header was cleared off the line by Allan Johnston and after that lead to a bit of a stramash in the area, the ball finally fell to Deuchar who shot straight at Robinson.

Russell was involved again as Queens were reduced to ten men. After intercepting Reid’s pass, Russell tried to drive past him but was upended by the defender and having already been booked in the first-half, he received his marching orders.

As the game drew to a close, both teams had excellent chances to nick a winner. Some good play from Nicky Clark saw him feed in Smillie but after getting past Watson and creating a shooting opportunity, he blazed his effort high over McNeill’s goal. Up the other end, some good build up play from Talbot, Sinclair and Ross eventually resulted in Jacobs firing a cross into the box but despite finding space for a shot, Craig Barr sent his shot over the bar and confirmed that the spoils would be shared between the sides.

McNeil, Ross, Talbot, Sinclair, C.Barr, Watson, Fox (Scougall 65), Kn.Jacobs, McNulty (Deuchar 78), Russell, B.Barr (Boulding 87)
Subs not used: Ky.Jacobs, Jamieson

Robinson, C.Reid, McGuffie, Higgins, Holt (A.Reid 56), Carmichael, McLaughlin, McKenna (Smylie 76), Johnston, Clark, Brighton (Reilly 66)
Subs not used: Atkinson, Simmons

Att: 1286

Ref: D Somers

Match report by Dave Black