Saturday 13 December 2014

0 - 1
HT 0-1
    Alston (28)

Livi failed to build on their impressive win over Raith Rovers as they slid to a narrow home defeat against Falkirk, who stretched their unbeaten run against the Lions to eight games.

The match had been in some doubt due to the wintry weather which had buffeted West Lothian in the days leading up to the match but a sterling effort from a hardy band of volunteers ensured the match went ahead, albeit only after a second pitch inspection.

Both sides went into the match on a high after impressive results last week - Livi on the back of their 5-1 thumping of ten-man Raith Rovers and the Bairns having ended Hibernian’s long unbeaten run with a last-gasp 1-0 win at the Falkirk Stadium. In what turned out to be his last game in charge, Livi boss John McGlynn was forced into one change from the side that started last week’s win in Kirkcaldy with Jack Beaumont replacing the injured Kyle Jacobs, as he had done to such great effect against Rovers.

Still buoyant from last week’s win, Livi started brightly and created the first opening inside two minutes as the ball found its way to Callum Fordyce on the right hand side and he curled a fine cross in which Mark Burchill rose well to meet but he could only send his header into the side netting. Burchill was denied again a couple of minutes later as he was teed up by Jordan White but saw his low shot blocked. Danny Mullen and Keaghan Jacobs then linked up well to find Gary Glen but his cross was gathered comfortably by Jamie McDonald.

Despite Livi’s bright start it was Falkirk who came closest to the opener on 16 minutes as Will Vaulks crashed in a stunning 30-yard strike which swerved away from Darren Jamieson but thundered back off the post. Livi responded as Glen linked up well with Shaun Rutherford but the young full-back’s cross was again straight at McDonald. The opening goal eventually arrived on 27 minutes and it was the visitors who broke the deadlock with a well-worked goal as Blair Alston played a smart  one-two inside the Livi box before curling a fine effort past Jamieson from a tight angle for 1-0.

Peter Houston’s side were visibly lifted by the goal, enjoying the bulk of possession and they came within inches of a second as Vaulks was left cursing the woodwork again, this time as his header from a corner came back off the post. Livi tried to stem the tide and forced a decent chance on 38 minutes as Danny Mullen flicked a long ball on to Jordan White and his fierce drive was deflected over for a corner to ensure that the sides went in at the break with Falkirk holding a deserved one goal lead.

Livi started the second half brightly and came close to an equaliser on 51 minutes when Fordyce headed the ball across goal for Burchill but he could only direct his own header wide. Craig Sibbald then tried his luck from distance for the Bairns, forcing Jamieson to push the ball wide. Vaulks was proving a handful at set-pieces and rose highest again from a corner but could only head high over the bar. In fairness to the Falkirk stopper, he was proving equally dangerous with the ball at his feet and he unleashed another terrific long-range effort which this time flew just wide.

Livi made their first change as Michael McKenna replaced Burchill and the substitute was quickly into the action, winning a free-kick around 30 yards out. Beaumont took responsibility and curled in a fine effort which McDonald did well to tip over. Gary Glen then came close for the Lions with a glancing header which flew just wide. John McGlynn then made his final changes as Livi boss, sending on Rob Ogleby and Myles Hippolyte for Glen and Mullen.

Ogleby was quickly into the action and should really have done better as he was played clean through on goal but his tame effort was easily blocked by McDonald as he charged out of his goal. McKenna then made a lung-bursting run down the left and fired a low ball across the Falkirk box but the Bairns defence cleared fairly comfortably.

That was to be the final chance of the game as time ran out for Livi and they slumped to an eighth defeat in eleven games, ensuring they remain four points adrift of Cowdenbeath, who have a game in hand, at the bottom of the table. The task facing caretaker-boss Mark Burchill is certainly a daunting one, but what better place for the ex-Celtic striker to start than with a trip to Ibrox next weekend!

Livingston: 1 Jamieson, 4 Mensing, 5 Fordyce, 7 Kn.Jacobs, 14 Gallagher, 16 Beaumont, 18 White, 19 Glen (Hippolyte 81), 20 Mullen (Ogleby 81), 27 Burchill (McKenna 70), 31 Rutherford
Subs not used: 2 Sives, 15 Praprotnik, 21 Grant, 33 Currie

Falkirk: 1 MacDonald, 2 Duffie, 5 McCracken, 6 Vaulks, 7 Taiwo (Cooper 80), 8 Alston, 10 Sibbald, 14 Grant, 19 Leahy, 28 Bia Bi (Shepherd 85), 33 Loy
Subs not used: 3 Shaughnessy, 9 Smith, 12 Bowman, 15 Dick, 16 Grant

Referee: Barry Cook

Attendance: 1,176

Match report: James Lothian