Livi slumped to the bottom of the Championship table after an insipid display in losing heavily to Hibernian at the Energy Assets Arena, a fourth straight league defeat without scoring for the Lions.
The Lions went into the match level on points with Alloa, who occupied bottom spot having lost 3-2 at home to Cowdenbeath earlier in the day, with a four-goal advantage in goal difference but contrived to suffer such a drubbing that they replaced the Wasps at the foot of the table.
It was an emphatic win for the visitors - their biggest of the season - but, on what should have been a memorable night for them and coming just two weeks after the crowd trouble which marred Rangers’ visit to West Lothian, there were further disturbances among the Hibs fans as some smoke bombs were let off and another exploded amid the throng of fans congregated at the back of section M, causing a nasty injury to a young boy who was sitting in that area while another was treated for a panic attack.
The match started reasonably well for Livi with Jason Talbot and Gary Glen linking up well down the left for Livi without creating anything clear-cut but Hibs should have taken the lead inside three minutes as Dominique Malonga found himself totally unmarked inside the Livi box but could only shoot straight at Darren Jamieson. Livi still showed promise as Talbot and Glen linked up once again along with Jordan White to set up Michael McKenna but his effort flew high over the crossbar. The Lions then won a free kick for a foul on White but, as Burton O’Brien floated the ball in, referee Greg Aitken blew for a foul on keeper Mark Oxley and the chance was gone.
Despite Livi’s fairly bright start, Hibs always looked the more dangerous and it was little surprise when Alan Stubbs’ side made the breakthrough on 31 minutes, though in truth the Lions shot themselves in the foot massively as Jamieson came to claim a straightforward cross from the right, only to fumble it straight to the feet of Malonga, and the big Frenchman took a touch before firing high into the net. Livi tried to mount a fightback and more neat play down the left ended with Talbot firing a decent ball into the box but McKenna just couldn’t get on the end of it as the Lions went in at the break 1-0 down.
Livi made a substitution at half-time, Keaghan Jacobs was replaced by Shaun Rutherford, as they set about trying to turn around the deficit and they came agonisingly close to doing just that as a terrific corner was met by Kyle Jacobs and his downward header was scrambled away by a combination of Oxley and the defender on the line. It proved a vital moment as, barely three minutes later, the visitors doubled their lead with a fine goal as Scott Allan flicked the ball through to the onrushing Danny Handling and he steadied himself before slotting into the corner to give Hibs a much-needed cushion. Boosted by that, Hibs began to attack more freely and Malonga should have had a second but could only fire over the bar.
Livi still offered an intermittent but fairly tame threat, Mark Burchill heading a cross from Glen aimlessly wide, and made a double-change midway through the half in the hope of engineering an unlikely fightback as Myles Hippolyte and Rob Ogleby replaced Burchill and McKenna but it was still Hibs who were well on top and almost had a third soon after the changes as Malonga turned provider for Jason Cummings but he could only head over. The third goal wasn’t long in arriving though as, within four minutes, Hibs were awarded a penalty as Craig Sives slipped in the box and watched helplessly as Allan made sure of contact to leave the referee with little option but to point to the spot. While Cummings was putting his toys back into his pram after not getting to take the kick, it was left to Dylan McGeouch to take on the penalty king and, for once, there was nothing Jamieson could do as he guessed right but couldn’t get near the on-loan Celtic man’s inch-perfect penalty.
The game was over as a contest after that, with the visitors treating it as little more than a glorified training session in the face of little Livi resistance, but the goal which sent Livi crashing to the bottom of the Championship arrived with two minutes to go as Paul Heffernan, just on for Cummings, slid in at the near post to toe a low cross into the net with his first touch.
Referee Aitken showed mercy on the Lions with only two added minutes and the whistle was greeted with boos from the Livi faithful as their side’s grim run, which stretches to no wins in 90 minutes and just one goal in their last six games, continued. The only small comfort for the Lions is that they have another chance to stop the rot in just a few days as they travel to Falkirk on Tuesday night.
Livingston: 1 Jamieson, 2 Sives, 3 Talbot, 5 Fordyce, 6 Ky.Jacobs, 7 Kn.Jacobs (Rutherford 46), 8 O'Brien, 17 McKenna (Hippolyte 65), 18 White, 19 Glen, 27 Burchill (Ogleby 65)
Subs not used: 10 Robertson, 15 Praprotnik, 20 Mullen, 21 Grant
Hibernian: 1 Oxley, 2 Gray, 4 Hanlon, 16 Stevenson, 22 Booth, 8 Robertson, 19 Handling (Harris 73), 20 Allan, 23 McGeouch, 24 Malonga (Stanton 73), 35 Cummings (Heffernan 84)
Subs not used: 10 Craig, 27 Allan, 30 Kennedy, 31 Perntreou
Referee: Greg Aitken
Match Sponsor: Energy Assets
Sponsor's MOM: Callum Fordyce
Mascot: Jack McIver (age 9)
Match report: James Lothian