Livi had the final word but still suffered a heavy defeat to league leaders Rangers at a snowbound Ibrox to remain ninth in the Ladbrokes Championship.
The weather elsewhere at least ensured no further ground was gained by our relegation rivals as Dumbarton and St Mirren saw their games called off and Alloa suffered an abandonment as they led 1-0.
Livi boss David Hopkin made four changes to his side from last week’s Scottish Cup defeat to Morton a s Marc McCallum, Kieran Gibbons, Gary Glen and Jordan White came in for Darren Jamieson, Danny Mullen, Liam Buchanan, Jordyn Sheerin but was left shellshocked as Rangers ran riot in the first half to leave the Lions with a mountain to climb.
Mark Warburton’s side were straight onto the offensive and Lee Wallace, Kenny Miller and Barrie McKay linked up well on the left hand side but were denied a shooting chance by the linesman’s flag. James Tavernier then curled a free kick over the bar as the home side continued to press.
It was only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken and the opener eventually arrived on eight minutes when a Tavernier free kick was cleared to Martyn Waghorn and, when his return ball was blocked by McCallum, it popped up perfectly for Danny Wilson to nod into the unguarded net. Within three minutes Rangers threatened a second only for a terrific tackle from Declan Gallagher to stop Miller running clear.
Rangers almost claimed an extraordinary second goal on 13 minutes when Waghorn tried his luck from almost halfway but McCallum managed to get back to his line and save. The second goal did arrive on 20 minutes when Miller was bundled over by Gallagher inside the box and Waghorn sent McCallum the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Livi then had a huge let off when a McKay shot appeared to divert wide off the hand of Ben Gordon but ref Craig Thomson gave only a corner. Lee Wallace then saw a shot from the edge of the box deflected over the bar. The third goal eventually arrived on 34 minutes when Miller curled home a shot from just inside the box.
Livi had another escape a few minutes later when a low cross found Waghorn barely a yard out but he could only knock his effort against the post and wide. He made amends for that awful miss on 41 minutes when a cross into the box was flicked on and Waghorn reached the loose ball before McCallum to lob it over the Livi keeper and into the net. The sound of the half-time whistle was music to the ears of the rattled Livi players as they headed in at the interval.
Half-time: Rangers 4-0 Livingston
The Livi boss made two changes at half-time as Glen and Gibbons were replaced by Buchanan and Mullen and it had an immediate impact as Mullen drove forward and fired in a powerful 25 yard effort which Wes Foderingham did well to push wide. Rangers then came close to a fifth when Waghorn met a cross from the right flush on the volley only for it to cannon off team-mate Miller to safety.
Livi finally gave the fans something to cheer on 55 minutes as they pulled a goal back when Buchanan was played in down the right and he fired an angled drive past Foderingham to make it 4-1. The Lions weren’t given much chance to build on their goal as Rangers surged forward once more, McKay curling an effort just wide. Nicky Law then came even closer but saw his shot blocked by a terrific save from McCallum.
Rangers made a double change of their own on 66 minutes as Waghorn and Law made way for Nicky Clark and Gedion Zelalem. Their third change followed soon after as Jason Holt was replaced by Dean Shiels. White then had the ball in the net for Livi but was adjudged to have fouled Foderingham in the process and the goal was disallowed.
Livi made their final switch as Ryan Currie came on for White. No sooner had the youngster come on than Rangers should have made it five when the ball broke to Clark inside the box but he could only prod his effort wide from close range. Buchanan then picked up a harsh yellow card after ref Thomson ruled he had taken a dive. Mullen tried his luck from distance but Foderingham saved with ease.
There was still time for a last bit of controversy as a cross from the left was headed home by Clark but Thomson had already pointed to the spot for a foul on the crosser. Rangers’ frustrations were compounded when McCallum produced a fine one-handed save to deny Andy Halliday from 12 yards and ensure Livi didn’t suffer a heavier defeat.
Full-time: Rangers 4-1 Livingston
So a real game of two halves saw Livi make amends for a horror first 45 minutes. Games like these are not the ones that will define our season but the second half display should at least reassure our fans that the players’ belief remains strong ahead of the battles to come. Next up for the Lions this weekend is a visit from another title-chasing side in Peter Houston’s Falkirk.
Rangers: Foderingham, Tavernier, Kiernan, Wallace, Law (Zelalem 68), Miller, Halliday, McKay, Holt (Shiels 77), Wilson, Waghorn (Clark 67)
Subs not used: Bell, Ball, Forrester, Thompson
Goals: Wilson (8), Waghorn (pen 22, 41), Miller (35)
Livingston: McCallum, Neill, Gallagher, Gordon, Longridge, Gibbons (Mullen 46), Fotheringham, Pittman, Stanton, Glen (Mullen 46), White (Currie 80)
Subs not used: Jamieson, Sheerin, Knox, Halkett
Goals: Buchanan (55)
Referee: Craig Thomson
Match Report: Andy Crawford