Saturday 21 February 2015

2 - 0
HT 2-0

K Duffie (8)
W Vaulks (16)


A nightmare start condemned Livi to a third-straight defeat as Falkirk claimed all three points for the eighth time in the last nine meetings between the two sides.

Despite back-to-back losses to leaders Hearts, Livi arrived at the Falkirk Stadium buoyed by two encouraging performances in those narrow defeats and hopeful of claiming a notable result to kickstart their survival charge.

Boss Mark Burchill made two changes to the starting line-up from the Tynecastle loss, bringing in Gary Glen and Shaun Rutherford for the suspended Nejc Praprotnik and Kyle Jacobs. There was also a first appearance on the bench for new signing Darren Cole as well as a welcome return to the first-team squad for Brad Donaldson, who is still to kick a competitive ball for the club after a luckless run of illness and injury.

Falkirk blasted out of the traps with all the confidence of a side unbeaten in 2015 (including the notable win over Hearts) and created the first chance inside five minutes when Tom Taiwo sent a deep cross to the back post but Craig Sibbald could only head it over. Livi weren’t off the hook for long though, as the Bairns broke the deadlock on seven minutes. Sibbald did well to keep the ball in play and whipped in a superb cross for Keiran Duffie who powered a header beyond Darren Jamieson.

Falkirk were all over Livi by now and almost had a quickfire second when Duffie bombed down the wing and cut the ball back for John Baird but his effort was well blocked by Craig Sives. Once again it was just a temporary let-off as the second goal arrived barely 60 seconds later. Sibbald was once more the creator as he latched on to a pass from Will Vaulks before returning the favour to allow Vaulks to fire the ball into the net to make it 2-0 inside 15 minutes.

The rampant Bairns almost had a third on 22 minutes when Rory Loy sent Baird clean through on goal but Rutherford was on hand to make a fine last-ditch block to prevent the shot coming in. Loy then sent a cross in towards Sibbald but it was inches too high and the chance was gone. It was Jamieson’s turn to come to the rescue for Livi soon after as Vaulks let fly with a thunderous effort from 20 yards which the Livi stopper did brilliantly to tip over the bar. He was on hand again minutes later when Mark Kerr drove a low shot in which Jamieson did well to block.

It was one-way traffic as Livi were being overrun and David McCracken passed up a decent chance when he could only loop a header wide from Vaulks’ cross.  Livi finally managed to briefly stem the tide with an attack of their own as Danny Mullen got on the end of Burton O’Brien’s cross but sent his header just over the bar to ensure that Livi went in for the interval two goals down.

Burchill responded with a double change at half time, introducing Michael McKenna and Myles Hippolyte in place of Glen and Ibra Sekajja. The changes seemed to galvanise the Lions and they looked far hungrier than they had before the break, McKenna getting straight into the action with a decent cross in being met by Jordan White but his header drifted wide. Hippolyte then sent a dangerous long throw which Sives did well to flick on and force McCracken to head narrowly over his own crossbar. The resulting corner came to nothing.

Falkirk were soon on the front foot again as Baird went clear but the angle was tight and he could only send his shot into the side netting. The Bairns then made their first change, replacing Baird with Taylor Morgan. Peter Houston’s team were on top once again and Loy released Sibbald out wide and his mishit cross had Jamieson scrambling to push it wide and prevent a fluke goal. Livi were at least showing signs of life this half and some neat link-up play in midfield created a chance for White but he snatched at his effort and could only fire it wide. Tom Taiwo was then replaced by David Smith for the Bairns.

The substitute was in the thick of the action right away and was denied a goal when Declan Gallagher did well to block Morgan’s attempted cut back. Livi made their final change as Rutherford made way for Scott Pittman in the hope of sparking a late revival. The Lions then passed up their best chance of the game as Keaghan Jacobs drove forward and fired in a drive which McDonald could only parry to White, but the big striker could only knock the ball wide.

Falkirk were soon back up the other end as Smith wriggled away from Sives and fire in a low effort which trundled just wide of the goal. Livi claimed for a penalty soon after when McKenna tangled with Sibbald but the referee was uninterested. Falkirk’s final change saw man-of-the-match Sibbald replaced by Blair Alston.

Livi sub Pittman showed neat footwork to release Fordyce down the right but his cross flew harmlessly behind for a goal kick. The final half-chance fell Livi’s way as Keaghan tried his luck from distance but the shot sailed comfortably over the bar and Livi were condemned to a third consecutive defeat.

Alloa’s win at Cowdenbeath further dented Livi’s survival hopes as it left them six points adrift at the foot of the table with tough games ahead. An upturn in form and fortune is needed soon if relegation is to be avoided.

Falkirk: 1 MacDonald, 2 Duffie, 5 McCracken, 6 Vaulks, 7 Taiwo (Smith 73), 10 Sibbald (Alston 87), 11 Kerr, 14 Grant, 19 Leahy, 33 Loy, 35 Baird (Morgan 65)
Subs not used: 12 Bowman, 15 Dick, 17 Maybury, 22 Blair

Livingston: 1 Jamieson, 2 Sives, 5 Fordyce, 7 Kn.Jacobs, 8 O'Brien, 14 Gallagher, 18 White, 19 Glen (McKenna 46), 20 Mullen, 22 Sekajja (Hippolyte 46), 31 Rutherford (Pittman 77)
Subs not used: 4 Cole, 12 Walker, 16 Beaumont, 23 Donaldson

Referee: Calum Murray

Attendance: 3,780

Match report: James Lothian