With the disappointment of losing to Ayr still fresh in the mind, the visit of Dundee to the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium was a chance for the Lions to get back to winning ways against a long time rival.
John Hughes was able to welcome back midfield whizz kid Stefan Scougall after missing out against Ayr. He replaced the injured Jason Talbot with Dean Cummings dropping to right back and Scougall sitting in midfield. There was a new face in the 16 too with Jack Downie taking a place on the bench for his first involvement with the senior squad.
The game started evenly with Livi creating the first chance of any sort. Kyle Jacobs drove forward with the ball and after exchanging passes with Bobby Barr, Jacobs teed Barr up for a shot from the edge of the area but ex-Livi ‘keeper Rab Douglas saved easily.
Dundee began to take a hold of the game and were causing problems with their quick, pressing play. The home side continued to try and build attacks with passing play from the back but the constant pressure was forcing errors and after being pinned back for a long stage, Livi found themselves a goal behind.
Stephen O’Donnell’s pass forward was flicked on by Carl Finnigan and after getting the better of Paul Watson; Jamie McCluskey fired a low shot beyond McNeil and into the corner. A Dundee goal had been on the cards and they so nearly bagged a second moments later. Matt Lockwood’s corner from the left was met by Rhys Weston but his header cannoned off the post and somehow worked its way across the line and out beyond the other post for a goal kick.
That miss sparked the Lions into action and with just under 40 minutes on the clock, the game was levelled. Kyle and Keaghan Jacobs linked up in the midfield with the latter threading an excellent pass behind the Dundee back-line where Marc McNulty was able to steady himself and fire into the corner. The young forward has scored some key goals this season and he once again showed his predator like instincts in the box to grab an equaliser.
With half time approaching, both teams had chances to take the lead.
Kevin McBride did well to win the ball from Kyle Jacobs in midfield and he found Ryan Conroy out wide. His cross into the box found Finnigan unmarked but his tame volley was straight at McNeil.
Up the other end, Bobby Barr’s deep corner found Scougall at the back of the box and he tried the spectacular, volleying the ball goal wards but again, Douglas was equal to it and held well.
Into the second-half and with only two minutes played, Livi took the lead. Dean Cummings drove forward and slipped the ball inside to Bobby Barr. The winger rolled a low cross into the box and under pressure from McNulty; Dundee defender Neil McGregor slid the ball past Douglas and into his own net.
It was a perfect start to the half for the Lions but the goal seemed to kick Dundee back into life and they didn’t have to wait long before finding themselves level again. A Dundee attack was headed away by Cummings and the ball presented a 50/50 opportunity for Scougall and Weston. As the two met in the middle, Weston got the block in and the ball ricocheted over the Livi defence into the path of Finnigan and he made no mistake in smashing a low shot past McNeil.
There was a real look of offside about the goal and a number of Livi players demonstrated this to the linesman and referee but they weren’t interested and the goal stood.
With the game even, Livi had their best spell of the match and McNulty was unlucky not to regain the lead for the home side. Keaghan Jacobs slipped another terrific ball in behind the Dundee backline but McNulty took a touch too many and Douglas did well to narrow the angle and make the block with his feet. From the resultant corner, Scougall’s cross was spilled by Douglas and Barr latched onto the ball but his shot was well blocked by McBride.
Ross Docherty then did excellently to drive the ball up the left wing before feeding a pass into McNulty but Douglas again produced the goods to tip his shot wide of the post.
Dundee weathered the storm well and were soon fighting up the other end, looking for a winner themselves. A miskicked clearance from Liam Fox sent Finnigan through on goal again but McNeil managed to scoop his shot round the post. Moments later, Ryan Conroy’s pass sent Finnigan down the left but he elected to shoot rather than pass and could only find the side netting.
Dundee were definitely looking like the team who would go on to win the game and Finnigan passed up another great chance to grab a third goal. A superb piece of passing play ended with O’Donnell feeding the ball into Finnigan but again, he shot straight at McNeil who pushed the ball wide for a corner. A series of Dundee corners then followed – along with a third Dundee goal. O’Donnell’s corner from the right was glanced on by Finnigan and McCluskey was on hand to prod the ball over the line for a Dundee winner.
Again, there looked like a hint of controversy with McCluskey looking to have controlled the ball with his arm but the referee was having none of it despite the Livi pleas.
It was a real sickener for Livi who had done enough to at least earn a point. A last minute foul on McNulty on the edge of the box gave Scougall a chance to claim a point but he could only shoot straight into the wall and with that, the three points were confirmed as heading to Dundee.
McNeil, Docherty, Cummings (Fordyce 90), Watson, C.Barr, Ky.Jacobs, B.Barr, Fox (I.Russell 70), McNulty, Scougall, Kn.Jacobs
Subs not used: Boulding, Downie, Jamieson
Douglas, Irvine, McGregor, Weston (McKeown 67), Lockwood, McCluskey, McBride, O'Donnell, Conroy, Finnigan, Milne (Bayne 33)
Subs not used: Gibson, Chisholm, Benedictus
Ref: B Madden
Match report by Dave Black