Livi slipped to a narrow defeat to Rangers in their hastily-rearranged clash at Ibrox to remain fifth in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
After the match was postponed by 24 hours due to the effects of Storm Ciara, Scott Arfield’s second-half strike proved enough to give Steven Gerrard’s side the victory, although the Lions were unlucky not to take a point when Lyndon Dykes saw an effort crash back off the post late on.
There were six changes to Gary Holt’s starting line-up from the midweek win over St Mirren as Ryan Schofield, Ricki Lamie, Keaghan Jacobs, Steve Lawson, Robbie Crawford and Aymen Souda came in for Robby McCrorie – ineligible against his parent club – Jack McMillan, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, Marvin Bartley, Craig Sibbald and Scott Robinson. Jacobs captained the side in Bartley’s absence while there was a welcome return to the bench for Nicky Devlin after three months our injured.
The Lions made a bright start and a throw-in on the right hand side after six minutes caught out the Rangers defence and allowed Souda in behind but the angle was against him and he could only fire wide. Connor Goldson then conceded a corner but Alfredo Morelos was able to clear for the hosts.
Rangers threatened for the first time on 16 minutes when Ianis Hagi tried his luck from the edge of the box but his weak effort trundled harmlessly wide. Schofield then produced an outstanding save as he spread himself to deny Morelos from close range moments later.
The hosts were on top now and Ryan Kent scampered down the left on 18 minutes before cutting inside on to his right foot and firing wide from just inside the box. Nikola Katic then headed over from close range three minutes later after a mishit clearance had looped into the air.
Steve Lawson collected the game’s first yellow card on 34 minutes for a trip on Hagi before Schofield produced a remarkable point blank save to keep the scores level a minute later, tipping Andy Halliday’s effort from six yards up and onto the crossbar. Lamie and Schofield then combined to deny Steve Davis on 42 minutes before Jon Guthrie picked up a booking for a foul on Goldson soon after as the teams went in level at the break.
Half-time: Rangers 0-0 Livingston
Both sides had chances after the restart as Lamie saw a dangerous low cross cleared at one end before Morelos fires at one end before Morelos fired high and wide from the right hand side of the box at the other. Kent then showed quick feet to find space in the Livi box before firing in a low effort that Schofield got down well to save. That was his last involvement as he went off to be replaced by Hibs outcast Florian Kamberi moments later.
The Lions came within a whisker of taking a shock lead on 57 minutes when a long throw wasn’t dealt with by the home defence and it found its way to Souda at the far post. He unleashed a stunning scissors kick from close range that was brilliantly kept out by Allan McGregor. Rangers made the most of that let-off as they took the lead two minutes later when Arfield beat the offside trap and fired low past Schofield.
Livi made their first change soon after the goal as Dolly Menga came on for his fourth sub appearance since returning from Angola, replacing Stevie Lawless. Crawford was then booked on 68 minutes for a foul on Hagi before Ryan Jack curled an effort just wide of target after neat build-up play from the home side. Jack McMillan replaced Souda for the Lions on 72 minutes before Sibbald came on for Crawford five minutes later as Gary Holt made his final roll of the dice.
Livi came within inches of a stunning equaliser eight minutes from time as Dykes and Menga played a neat one-two for the Aussie hitman to fire in a superb volley that crashed back off the post with McGregor rooted to the spot. Rangers made their second change moments later as Greg Stewart replaced Hagi before Goldson headed a Halliday corner over on 86 minutes. Livi broke quickly from that corner and Dyes did well against Goldson before firing in a low effort that McGregor did well to save.
Joe Aribo replaced Morelos with two minutes left as Rangers saw out added time to claim the three points and just about keep their faltering title hopes alive.
Full-time: Rangers 1-0 Livingston
Rangers: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Halliday, Jack, Davis, Arfield, Hagi (Stewart 83), Morelos (Aribo 89), Kent (Kamberi 56)
Subs not used: Foderingham, Flanagan, Kamara, Jones
Goals: Arfield (59)
Livingston: Schofield, Lamie, Jacobs, Brown, Guthrie, Lawson, Pittman, Crawford (Sibbald 77), Lawless (Menga 59), Souda (McMillan 72), Dykes
Subs not used: Maley, Devlin, Robinson, Taylor-Sinclair
Referee: Euan Anderson
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photo Album: Rae Irvine