Livi ended their year-long wait for an away league win in spectacular style as a devastating first half-hour set up a thumping victory over Ross County at the Global Energy Stadium.
Goals from Jon Guthrie, Stevie Lawless and Lyndon Dykes had the Lions three goals up inside 26 minutes and, although Ross Stewart pulled one back for County just before half-time, Jack Stobbs marked his debut with a sensational strike to seal the win and move Livi up to third in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Gary Holt made three changes from the Betfred Cup win at Forfar last week as Ross Stewart, Keaghan Jacobs and Scott Robinson came in for Matija Sarkic, Robbie Crawford and Aymen Souda and one of the new faces made an instant impact as the Lions took a third-minute lead. Jacobs floated a free kick to the far post and Guthrie rose highest to power a header back across goal and into the corner of the net.
The Lions should have doubled their lead on 10 minutes when Lawless played in Dykes down the left and his dinked cross found Pittman unmarked with much of the goal to aim at but he didn’t attack the header as it seemed to just bounce off him and drop wide. They went close again two minutes later when a deep corner found Ricki Lamie at the back post and his downward header was hooked off the line to prevent a certain goal.
Those misses wouldn’t prove costly, though, as Livi did double their lead on 14 minutes when the ball fell to Lawless inside the County box and he fired a low effort home from close range as the home defence stood and watched. County then made an enforced change eight minutes later as Keith Watson replaced the injured Liam Fontaine before Callum Morris picked up a yellow card for a clumsy foul.
Livi had seen two-goal leads look far from comfortable in their last two games but any anxiety was soon dispelled as they made it 3-0 on 26 minutes. A corner was poorly dealt with by the home defence and Robinson gathered possession before laying it off for Dykes to fire home his first Premiership goal of the season.
The Lions were forced into a change of their own on 29 minutes as Robinson picked up a knock and was replaced by debutant Stobbs. Dykes then came close to making it 4-0 12 minutes later when he burst clear and fired a powerful effort across goal and just wide.
County made their first foray upfield on 43 minutes and made it count with a goal that had something of the ‘Spider-Man meme’ about it as County striker Ross Stewart slipped a low finish under Livi keeper Ross Stewart to reduce the Staggies’ arrears to two at the interval.
Half-time: Ross County 1-3 Livingston
Livi perhaps expected they would have to weather a storm from the home side after the restart and they did come close to making it 3-2 when Blair Spittal fired over from the edge of the box but the Lions soon put the game beyond doubt with a spectacular fourth goal seven minutes into the second half.
It came from a County free kick that was cleared by Lamie. His clearance was mishit but Jacobs headed it into the path of Lawless who broke down the left and whipped the ball across goal for Stobbs to fire a glorious volley past Ross Laidlaw from the edge of the box. Jacobs was then forced off seven minutes later to be replaced by Crawford.
County to their credit refused to let it get embarrassing. Stewart headed wide and Billy McKay had a low shot tipped past the post. Livi then came close to a fifth on 75 minutes when Lawless’ deep corner found Guthrie at the back post but his downward header bounced just the wrong side of the post.
Livi made their final change ten minutes from time as Stobbs, whose debut – his first game since February – had perhaps lasted longer than Gary Holt might have planned after his early introduction for the injured Robinson, went off to be replaced by Chris Erskine. Alan Lithgow picked up a late booking for a foul on Stewart as Livi cruised to their biggest away win the top flight since October 2002.
Full-time: Ross County 1-4 Livingston
Ross County: Laidlaw, Fraser, Morris, Fontaine (Watson 22), Kelly, Mullin, Chalmers (Grivosti 45), Vigurs (Paton 73), Spittal, McKay, Stewart
Subs not used: Armstrong, Power, Ruddy, Reid
Goals: Stewart (44)
Livingston: Stewart, Devlin, Lithgow, Guthrie, Lamie, Bartley, Jacobs (Crawford 55), Robinson, Pittman, Lawless (Stobbs 52 (Erskine 79)), Dykes
Subs not used: Sarkic, McMillan, Souda, Tiffoney
Goals: Guthrie (3), Lawless (14), Dykes (26), Stobbs (52)
Referee: Gavin Duncan
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine