Livi picked up their first win in the Ladbrokes Premiership as they comfortably saw off fellow new boys St Mirren at the Simple Digital Arena to get new Head Coach Gary Holt off to a perfect start.
First half goals from Jack Hamilton and Alan Lithgow were the least the Lions deserved for an accomplished performance in the Paisley sunshine as they won in the top flight for the first time since April 2006.
The new Lions boss made four changes to the starting line-up from the Betfred Cup defeat to Motherwell as Lithgow made a long-awaited return to the team alongside debutant Steve Lawson, Ricki Lamie and Hamilton, who made their first league starts for Livi.
It was the home side who started brightly and Kyle Magennis broke down the left inside the first minute but his cross didn’t find a teammate and Livi were able to clear. That was almost as good as it got for the home side as the Lions took control.
The returning Lithgow was first to try his luck on five minutes as his long throw was returned to him by Declan Gallagher and he cut inside before unleashing a powerful effort that was well held by Craig Samson. Three minutes later the Lions came even closer as Lawson’s low cross found Scott Robinson and his trundling shot beat Samson but crashed back off the post.
Livi’s pressure was building and it was rewarded on 13 minutes as they broke the deadlock when, after the hosts failed to deal with a corner, Lithgow cut the ball back for Hamilton to fire home off the underside of the bar with the linesman judging his effort to have crossed the line. The Buddies’ Cole Kpekawa then picked up a yellow card for pulling down Robinson with the resulting free kick from Steven Lawless well saved by Samson.
The Lions were firmly in command and came close again on 21 minutes when Hamilton and Robinson did brilliantly to keep the ball alive before Hamilton laid the ball back for Shaun Byrne to cross for Lawless, whose header was straight at Samson. Eight minutes later, a left wing cross from Gallagher was met by Lamie but Samson was able to save again.
Livi gave themselves breathing space on 36 minutes as they doubled their lead when Lawless’ corner was met at the back post by Lithgow who looped a sublime header over Samson to make it 2-0. It marked a dream return to the starting XI for Lithgow and was also the first time the Lions has scored twice in first half of a top flight match since a 3-1 win at Kilmarnock in November 2004.
Lawson picked up a yellow card three minutes from half-time for a mistimed challenge on Danny Mullen as Livi took a commanding lead in at the interval.
Full-time: St Mirren 0-2 Livingston
Gary Holt made a change at the interval as Lawson was replaced by Keaghan Jacobs. The hosts followed suit five minutes later, Jack Baird replacing Kpekawa, before Hayden Coulson picked up a yellow card for throwing a strop at the referee after the referee gave a throw-in Livi’s way.
The home side tried to muster a response and ex-Livi striker Danny Mullen, who endured a largely forgettable afternoon against his old club, wriggled into space but fired an effort high over the crossbar. Scott Pittman then tried his luck six minutes later with an effort from the edge of the box that stung the palms of Samson, who made a fine save.
The Lions made their second change on 62 minutes as Egli Kaja replaced Hamilton, who received a well-deserved standing ovation as he made his way off after an outstanding display. The hosts also made a second switch as Matty Willock went off to be replaced by Cammy Smith.
The Lions came close to a third on 76 minutes as Lawless dinked a fine ball into the box and Kaja sent a header wide at the near post before Nicky Cadden replaced Lawless four minutes later in Livi’s final change. Cody Cooke replaced Nicolai Brock-Madsen in the Buddies’ final change on 81 minutes before Liam Kelly was booked by referee John Beaton after he was adjudged to have taken too long over a free kick.
Good play from Cadden almost brought a third goal for the Lions as he reached the byline before his cross was headed away only as far as Pittman. He teed up Robinson and he fired in a powerful strike that was well-saved by Samson. Kaja then teed up Cadden two minutes later and he turned his man inside out before curling an effort just over the bar.
The Lions played out the remaining minutes with ease before celebrating with their travelling support as they won away from home in the top flight for the first time since November 2005.
Full-time: St Mirren 0-2 Livingston
St Mirren: Samson, Hodson, Jones, Kpekawa Baird (50), Coulson, Flynn, Willock (Smith 64), McGinn, Magennis, Brock-Madsen (Cooke 82), Mullen
Subs not used: King, MacPherson, Muir, Erhahon
Livingston: Kelly, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Lawless (Cadden 80), Pitman, Byrne, Robinson, Lamie, Lawson (Jacobs 45), Hamilton (Kaja 63)
Subs not used: McMillan, Crane, Stewart, Blues
Goals: Hamilton (14), Lithgow (36)
Referee: John Beaton
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine