Livi moved into third place in the Ladbrokes Championship with an emphatic victory over Queen of the South at a freezing Palmerston Park.
After James Penrice’s first goal for the club had set the Lions on their way, Josh Mullin and Shaun Byrne struck after the interval to seal an impressive away victory and end the home side’s five-match unbeaten run.
Livi boss David Hopkin made three changes to the side that won 2-0 against Glenafton in the Scottish Cup as Neil Alexander, Penrice and Raffaele De Vita came in for Gary Maley, Jackson Longridge and Dale Carrick.
There was an early stoppage in play for an injury to Byrne before the home side had the first effort of note on five minutes as John Rankin fired wide from the edge of the box. The Lions had a big chance to take the lead on 16 minutes as De Vita’s header sent Dylan Mackin through in goal and he shrugged off a defender but saw his prodded effort smothered by Queens keeper Alan Martin. Mullin then fired in a tempting cross but Mackin couldn’t quite get on the end of it.
Livi continued to press and Byrne tried his luck from 25 yards with an effort which was deflected wide before the home side came close on 30 minutes when Derek Lyle met a cross with a volley at the far post that Alexander did well to save. The Lions headed straight up the other end and broke the deadlock when De Vita fired in a terrific low cross that Penrice was able to fire home from close range.
Former Livi man Kyle Jacobs picked up the first yellow card of the game for a late challenge on Byrne before the home side came close to drawing level in stoppage time when James McFadden fired in a terrific cross for Lyle but his header was met by a brilliant save from Alexander to ensure that the Lions went in at the interval with their lead intact.
Half-time: Queen of the South 0-1 Livingston
The home side made a bright start to the second half and Livi had Alexander to thank for keeping their lead intact when he made another terrific save to deny Lyle, diving at full stretch to keep out his header.
Livi thought they had doubled their lead on 62 minutes when Declan Gallagher got on the end of Mullin’s free kick and his header looked to have crossed the line by a considerable distance but the linesman’s flag stayed out and the score remained 1-0. Queens then made their first change on 65 as Chris Kane replaced Lyle.
The change made little difference, though, as the Lions doubled their lead on 68 minutes when Mullin curled in another magnificent cross and this time it went straight into the net, despite Mackin claiming a touch, to make it 2-0 to the Lions. Livi made their first change two minutes later as Nikolay Todorov came on for De Vita before Mackin became the second name in the referee’s book.
Livi should have made it 3-0 almost immediately after the change as Keaghan Jacobs sent Mullin clean through on goal but his touch let him down and Martin was able to gather.
David Hopkin made his second change on 72 minutes as Carrick came on for Mackin before the home side were reduced to ten men when Kyle Jacobs picked up a second yellow card for another late challenge, this time on Scott Pittman. The final Livi change was made three minutes later as the impressive Penrice went off to be replaced by Longridge.
Livi made their one-man advantage count on 82 minutes as they made it 3-0 when Gallagher and Longridge combined to tee up Byrne and he side-footed a fine finish low into the bottom corner to seal the win for the Lions.
McFadden went into the referee’s book for a needless trip on Byrne as Queens’ frustrations boiled over before sub Todorov came close to a fourth as he got on the end of Keaghan Jacobs’ cross but his flicked effort was straight at Martin. It mattered little as Livi held on comfortably for a third win in four games.
Full-time: Queen of the South 0-3 Livingston
QotS: Martin, Marshall, Fordyce, Brownlie, Rankin (Rooney 71), Lyle (Kane 65), Dobbie (Tapping 83), Jacobs, Kerr, McFadden, Dykes
Subs not used: Stirling, Murray, Leighfield, Mercer
Livingston: Alexander, Lithgow, Halkett, Gallagher, Byrne, Pittman, Penrice (Longridge 79), Jacobs, Mullin, De Vita (Todorov 71), Mackin(Carrick 73)
Subs not used: Maley, Cadden, Knox, Henderson
Goals: Penrice (32), Mullin (68), Byrne (81)
Referee: Colin Steven
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine