Saturday 4 January 2014

0 - 1

HT 0-1
Loy (26 pen)

Livi slipped to a first defeat in six matches as Falkirk left West Lothian with all three points for the second time this season on a frustrating afternoon at the Energy Assets Arena.

Livi played for over an hour with ten men after Coll Donaldson was show a straight red card but could still consider themselves very unfortunate not to have taken something from the game.

It was Falkirk who made the stronger start as Craig Sibbald made a run down the left and squared to Mark Millar who fired in a rasping low drive which Darren Jamieson did well to tip wide of the post. From the resulting corner, Mensing's clearance was picked up by Stephen Kingsley who weaved past three players and laid off to Will Vaulks who fired wide from 20 yards.

Livi then survived a major scare as Coll Donaldson played a pass back to Jamieson which was never really on and, when Jamieson miscontrolled the ball, Rory Loy should have scored but could only flick the ball wide. Donaldson was involved again and was once more lucky to avoid embarrassment as Sibbald put in a cross which he could only divert towards goal. Fortunately it bounced wide. He then came close to scoring at the right end as he rose to meet a Stefan Scougall corner but headed it just wide.

Donaldson's, and Livi's, luck was only to hold for so long and, after possession was needlessly surrendered around the Livi box once more, Phil Roberts played in Connor McGrandles and his progress into the box was halted by Donaldson's despairing lunge. Referee Kevin Graham had no hesitation in pointing to the spot but there was worse to come for Donaldson as he produced a straight red card for the Livi defender. Given the close proximity of other Livi defenders, to call it an obvious goal scoring opportunity was debatable but the decision was made and Livi were left to battle on a man down. From the resulting penalty, Loy stepped up and sent Jamieson the wrong way to put the Bairns in front.

The red card seemed to galvanise Livi as they took the game to Falkirk, with Bairns boss Gary Holt perhaps showing his inexperience by not encouraging his side to go for the jugular against the depleted Lions. Livi had a great chance as Scougall played a clever through ball to Mark Burchill, in his first Livi start, but keeper Michael McGovern was out smartly to put him off and Burchill could only lift his shot over the bar.

Marc McNulty then picked the ball up in midfield and slipped in Burchill but his shot from a tight angle was bundled wide by McGovern. From the resulting corner, Callum Fordyce rose highest to bullet in a header which was cleared off the line, apparently by McNulty as the ref signalled for a goal kick.

Livi started the second half with the same intent as they had ended the first but were almost caught on the counter as Loy was played in down the left but his shot flew high and wide. Livi were soon back on the attack and McNulty picked the ball up wide on the left but, after showing brilliant skill and poise to work his way into a shooting position, he lost his footing at the vital moment and the shot was easily cleared.
McGrandles then almost sealed it but his header from a Leahy knockdown was well held by Jamieson before Livi came agonisingly close to an equaliser. Jason Talbot hurled in a long throw which was flicked on by Fordyce and, after Loy miscued his clearance, Mensing headed down to McNulty who fired in a low drive which beat McGovern but was cleared off the line by Vaulks.

So a battling performance ended in a frustrating loss but there was still cause for optimism as the considerable improvement from the two heavy defeats suffered to Falkirk already this season was evident. The result leaves Livi in sixth place, still four points adrift of the playoff places ahead of a trip to face league leaders Dundee next Saturday.

Livingston: 1 Jamieson, 3 Talbot, 4 Mensing, 5 Fordyce, 6 Scott (Denholm 80), 7 Jacobs (Wilkie 80), 8 O'Brien, 9 McNulty, 10 Scougall, 19 Donaldson, 27 Burchill (Mullen 70)
Subs not used:
2 Mampuya, 15 Docherty, 17 Walker, 23 Twardzik

Falkirk: 1 McGovern, 2 Duffie, 3 Kingsley, 6 Vaulks, 7 Fulton (Durojaiye 63), 9 Roberts (Leahy 71), 10 Sibbald, 11 McGrandles, 33 Loy, 34 McCracken (Flynn 46), 35 Millar
Subs not used:
8 Alston, 12 Bowman, 18 Small, 31 Shepherd

Referee: Kevin Graham

Attendance: 1585

Match report: Andrew Crawford