Livingston ran out comfortable winners from the Irn Bru Scottish First Division clash at Cappielow Park. Goals from Marc McNulty, Iain Russell and Craig Barr gave the Lions a comfortable victory, leaving Peter MacDonald’s netting for Morton as nothing more than a consolation.
John Hughes named a much changed side from previous weeks, with Iain Russell, Michael Scott coming in for the injured Stefan Scougall and Liam Fox, and a trialist seeing Ross Docherty dropped to the bench.
Livingston opened brightly, with debutant Michael Scott testing former Livi keeper Colin Stewart with an early 20yard drive which the big keeper did well to tip over. The Lions weren’t made to wait long for their opening goal. Just five minutes in on-fire Marc McNulty successfully dodged around Stewart and made no mistake in putting the ball into the back of the net from close range.
Michael Scott once again tested the Morton keeper, Iain Russell successfully dispossessed Stewart and set up the Livi youngster for a good effort.
It was, however, Morton who were next to get on the score sheet 22 minutes in. A Paul Di Giacomo corner was easily cleared by Keaghan Jacobs, but found its way back into the box to Peter MacDonald at the back post who made no mistake in heading home.
The home side was buzzing after its equaliser and continued to test the Livi defence. A succession of quick corners were lucky to be kept out thanks to the combined efforts of Andy McNeil and and his defence.
Craig Barr gifted the home side an excellent chance to take the lead with a poor tackle giving away a foul just outside the box which earned him a yellow card. However, MacDonald’s free kick was comfortably saved by McNeil.
After the confidence knock of conceding a goal, Livingston began to reassert themselves on the game, and Iain Russell once more tested Stewart with a low, long range effort which the keeper did well to turn around the post.
But he wasn’t to be denied for long however, and gave Livi the lead with 41 minutes on the clock. The trialist right back and midfielder Michael Scott combined to send in an excellent cross to Iain Russell at the near post who effortlessly slid the ball under Stewart into the back of the net.
Morton came out the traps quicker in the second half, with several efforts being kept out by McNeil and the Livi defence in the first five minutes. However, it was the Lions who were to get the only goal of the second half on 51 minutes. Livi wing back Jason Talbot sent in an excellent cross over the top of the defence to Craig Barr who powerfully headed the ball into the net for his second goal of the season.
With confidence soaring in the Livingston side, Iain Russell tried his luck again, but was unfortunate to see a double effort saved both times by Colin Stewart.
Substitute Andy Russell was next to test Stewart, blasting an effort from a Bobby Barr cross goalwards at the back post, which the keeper managed to hold. Minutes later, after a good Iain Russell shot was deflected out by Colin Stewart, Talbot blasted his effort well over from close range.
Morton began trying to claw their way back into the game, and a powerful long range effort by Peter Weatherson was well tipped over by McNeil. David O’Brien then ghosted his way by the Livi defence before blasting a powerful effort towards the left corner of the net, which McNeil brilliantly got a hand to at the last second.
Iain Russell continued to show determination to score again against his former team. A quick counter attack ended with Bobby Barr passing to ‘Beanie’ who shot his effort straight at the keeper.
McNeil was again tested in the last 5 minutes as substitute Archie Campbell’s shot was tipped over by the impressive stopper. However, it was Livingston who were to get the final effort of the game, a fantastic long ball out by McNeil found Iain Russell who played in Bobby Barr, but the latter could only shoot wide.
Livingston ran out comfortable victors in the end, however both keepers can be particularly proud of themselves as the score could have been far higher. The crisp passing game of the two Johns clicked and the players seemed comfortable to try their luck at shooting, while at the other end things are showing definite signs of improvement.
Stewart, Graham, Smyth, Weatherson, Forsyth, Di Giacomo (Tidser 56), Young (McGeouch 81), Bachirou, O'Brien, MacDonald, Jackson (Campbell 73)
Subs not used: Evans, McGinley
McNeil, Trialist, Talbot, Watson, C.Barr, Ky.Jacobs (Boulding 86), B.Barr, Scott (A.Russell 57), McNulty (Docherty 76), I.Russell, Kn.Jacobs
Subs not used: Fordyce, Murphy
Ref: C Richmond
Match report by Chris Naismith