Tuesday 6 March 2012

Livingston 1 - 2 Ayr United
HT (1 - 1)

Jamie McCluskey’s late winner for Dundee just three days earlier was a real hammer-blow for Livingston but they now looked to get back to winning ways against Ayr United.

Having only visited, and lost at Somerset Park a week and a half ago, John Hughes was keen to get revenge on The Honest Men. ‘Yogi’ was forced into one change with Jason Talbot coming back in for Dean Cummings who had limped off towards the end of the Dundee match. Andrew Russell made an appearance on the bench ahead of Jack Downie.

In horrible conditions, Livi began, very much so, the better of the two sides. Stefan Scougall’s corner from the left bobbled about around the box and when Ross Docherty found Fox on the edge of the area, the skipper drove a low shot goal wards but Kevin Cuthbert was on hand to turn the shot round the post.

The Jacobs brothers combined to create Livi’s next chance of the half with a quick one-two in the middle of the park allowing space for Kyle to get a shot away but the ball sailed over the bar.

Keaghan was involved again as the search for the opening goal continued. Bobby Barr drove into the middle with the ball and slipped a pass behind the Ayr defence for Keaghan to run on to and first-time, he squared the ball into the six-yard box for Marc McNulty but Eddie Malone stuck a foot in to stop ‘Sparky’ from getting a shot away.

That attack was never fully cleared by Ayr though and after Barr worked hard to keep the ball live, he teed up Jason Talbot who whipped a low ball into the box where Kyle Jacobs flicked goal wards but couldn’t find the target.

From the resultant goal kick, the Lions took the lead. Cuthbert scuffed his kick and McNulty picked up possession 30 yards from goal and after playing a neat one-two with Kyle, he slid the ball past the ‘keeper and into the path of Keaghan Jacobs who had the easy task of rolling the ball into an empty net from all of four yards.

Moments later, it was so nearly 2-0. Kyle Jacobs again did well in midfield and after his shot was blocked, the ball fell to Scougall 20 yards out and he let fly with a shot that Cuthbert did excellently to palm away.

Livi’s lead only lasted 8 minutes though as Ayr were awarded a penalty kick. Andy Geggan, two-goal hero for Ayr against Livi in the last game, drove forward and played a through-ball behind the Livi defence for Keigan Parker. As the front man collected the pass, Andy McNeil, who had raced from his line, sent him to the deck and the referee pointed to the spot. Mark Roberts took the kick and despite McNeill going the right way, the penalty was struck well and nestled in the corner of the net.

With half time approaching, both sides had excellent chances to take the lead. Scougall’s corner was only cleared as far as the edge of the box where Liam Fox smashed a shot goal wards, only to see the ball cannon off the bar and then headed over by Kyle on the follow-up. Up the other end, some neat footwork in the box eventually lead to the ball breaking for Michael McGowan who was desperately unlucky to see his shot fly narrowly wide of the post. Keigan Parker’s miscued shot then nearly landed brilliantly for Tomsett but he couldn’t get enough power on his header and Fox was able to hook the ball off the line.

Into the second-half and Marc McNulty really should have re-established the Livi lead. Keaghan Jacobs played an excellent pass forward from deep inside his own half, sending McNulty through one-on-one with Cuthbert but the striker could only shoot straight at the ‘keepers feet. The rebound fell to Bobby Barr who teed up Kyle Jacobs for a shot but Cuthbert was equal to that too.

Keaghan was involved again as Livi went close in almost identical circumstances. This time his pass forward sent Bobby Barr clear on goal but he looked to overrun the ball slightly and Cuthbert was able to close the angle before Barr got a proper shot away.

Ayr gradually started getting into the half and came close after some good play down the left between Parker and Adam Dodd resulted in the latter twisting and turning before getting a shot away but McNeil did well to make the save.

Parker was involved again soon after as the away side took the lead. Some scrappy play on the right hand side saw the ball fall to parker who dinked a cross to the back post. Ross Docherty got up well to head the ball away but Michael McGowan collected and with time on his hands, he calmly slammed the ball beyond McNeil.

Livi continued to press despite conceding the goal as they desperately fought for an equaliser. Substitute Iain Russell played in Bobby Barr who teed the ball up for Keaghan Jacobs but his goal bound effort was blocked Jonathan Tiffoney. The resultant corner from Barr was then nodded in Keaghan’s path again and after a sublime piece of skill in the box, his shot was this time blocked by Adam Dodd.

Ayr weren’t happy to simply defend the lead and also pushed on, looking to kill the game off. McGowan’s corner was fired goal wards by Roberts but Fox scuffed the ball clear from the line. Andy Geggan managed to flick the clearance back towards goal but this time Docherty blocked on the line and Parker couldn’t get on the end of the loose ball quick enough and Docherty was finally able to clear the ball properly. The final whistle accompanied the clearance and with it meant a third defeat in a row for the Lions.

McNeil, Docherty, Talbot, Watson, C.Barr, Ky.Jacobs, B.Barr, Fox, McNulty, Scougall (I.Russell 66), Kn.Jacobs
Subs not used: Fordyce, Boulding, A.Russell, Jamieson

Ayr United:
Cuthbert, Tiffoney, Malone, Smith, Dodd, Moffat, Geggan, Tomsett, McGowan, Parker, M.Roberts
Subs not used: McWilliam, R.Roberts, McKernon, Wardlaw, Armstrong

Att: 859

Ref: S Finnie

Match report by Dave Black