Saturday 18 January 2014

0 - 1

HT 0-1
McKay (45)

Livi were left to rue missed chances and an errant offside flag as the curse of the Manager of the Month award struck John McGlynn and basement boys Morton left West Lothian with all three points.

McGlynn took the award for an unbeaten December which was part of a run of just one defeat in seven games, including the fine win at Dundee last week, while Morton had gone nine games without a win and had been thumped 5-1 at Cappielow in their last encounter with Livi, a result which cost previous boss Allan Moore his job.

Morton hadn't so much as scored in their past five matches but made a vibrant start and came agonisingly close to an early lead when Garry O'Connor headed a Fouad Bachirou corner back across goal for David Robertson whose downward header was repelled by a stunning save from Darren Jamieson when a goal seemed inevitable.

O'Connor, who has fallen a long way since his big-money move from Hibernian to Lokomotiv Moscow in the mid-2000s, then fired in a low free kick which rolled harmlessly wide of Jamieson's right hand post.

Livi created their first chance soon after when Keaghan Jacobs played the ball through to Martin Scott and he teed up Marc McNulty whose shot was fumbled by Nicolas Caraux. In trying to get to the loose ball, Livi striker Mark Burchill accidentally collided with Caraux in a challenge which would eventually force the Morton no. 1 off with suspected concussion, Derek Gaston coming on in his place. Scott then sent in a cross which McNulty headed goalwards, but the header lacked power and was held fairly easily by Gaston.

Gaston then came to the rescue again as good interplay between Jacobs and Scott saw them find Burchill and his long range effort was pushed away by the substitute, with the defender getting the ball clear before McNulty could pounce on the rebound. Morton then went up the other end and Robertson passed up a golden chance to give his side the lead when he was found totally unmarked six yards out by an inch-perfect cross but could only head down and harmlessly wide.

The bottom dogs weren't to be denied, though, as they moved in front right on the stroke of half time. O'Connor may not be as fit as he once was but he hasn't lost much of his skill with the ball at his feet and he played an inch-perfect crossfield ball to the unmarked Barrie McKay who cut inside Jason Talbot and slotted the ball low past Jamieson into the corner of the net.

Livi came out for the second half with the bit between their teeth and came close to an equaliser when Burton O'Brien found Talbot on the left and he cut in before firing in a decent left foot strike which flew just over. Morton seemed content to hold on to what they had but they still carried a threat from set pieces with their significant height advantage and O'Connor was denied when his looping header from Bachirou's corner was headed off the line by the well-placed Mike Mampuya. Livi then pushed forward and, after Talbot's long ball had been half cleared by Tomas Peciar, Jacobs fired in a first time strike which bobbled through to Gaston.

Then came the big moment of controversy when Scott played the ball forward to McNulty and he nodded down to Burchill. Burchill then played an inch perfect through to McNulty who flicked the ball over Gaston and into the net only to be denied by the linesman's flag. Replays showed the Lions hitman was a yard onside as his strike partner played him in, leaving the home side frustrated. Livi tried to use the sense of injustice as motivation to rescue a point and they came agonisingly close to doing so when Mampuya made a good run down the right to allow Jacobs the space to curl in a fine low cross which Danny Denholm met with a fine first-time volley that flew inches wide.

Livi kept pushing but couldn't find a way through and Morton celebrated an unexpected win that closed them to within five points of second-bottom Cowdenbeath. Livi, on the other hand, knew they had passed up a golden chance to move into the playoff places with Raith losing at Queen of the South. The result instead saw Livi slip to seventh in the Championship, still only two points off fourth place, now occupied by Dumbarton, in an increasingly tight race for the promotion playoff places, with two points now separating the Sons, who Livi travel to on Saturday, and eighth-placed Alloa.

Livingston: Jamieson, Mampuya, Mensing, Fordyce, Talbot, Scott, Jacobs, O'Brien (Mullen 85), McNulty, Docherty (Wilkie 65), Burchill (Denholm 71)
Subs not used:
Walker, Beaumont, Rutherford, Downie

Morton: Caraux (Gaston 29), Taggart, Fitzpatrick, Peciar, Imrie, O'Connor, McKay (Fulton 83), Bachirou, Robertson (Hands 74), Cole, McCormack
Subs not used:
Wallace, Campbell, Sampayo, Habai

Referee: George Salmond

Attendance: 1245

Match report: Andrew Crawford