Stranraer 2-4 Livingston

Livi secured top spot in Group H and a place in the last-16 of the Betfred Cup with a thrilling victory over Stranraer at a sun-kissed Stair Park.

After falling behind early on, the Lions roared back through an own goal and strikes from Dale Carrick, Nikolay Todorov and Scott Robinson to seal the victory and reach an unassailable 11 points.

David Hopkin made two changes from the 2-0 win over Airdrieonians at the weekend as Keaghan Jacobs and Carrick came in for Todorov and Josh Mullin and it was the Lions who started brightly as Jacobs and Raffaele De Vita linked up well to release Dylan Mackin but he was marginally offside.

The home side then had a half-chance on four minutes when the ball found its way to Grant Anderson at the back post but his volley flew wide. Barely 60 seconds later the hosts did break through when a free kick found ex-Livi man Morgyn Neill at the back post and he headed home off the post.

After Scott Robertson went unpunished for a heavy challenge on Scott Pittman on nine minutes, he had a huge hand in Livi’s equaliser a minute later, turning De Vita’s free kick into his own net under pressure from Carrick.

Livi took control after drawing level and a great ball from Jacobs on 14 minutes sent Carrick racing clear but Neill was across smartly to make a great challenge to halt his run. Pittman then found Jacobs two minutes later and his excellent cross was met by Craig Halkett but his header was well saved by Max Currie.

As the visitors continued to press, good play from Jackson Longridge won a corner that was met by Declan Gallagher but his header flew over the bar. Livi thought they had taken the lead on 28 minutes when Mackin had the ball in the net but De Vita was harshly penalised for a handball in the build up.

It proved only a brief delay as the Lions did go in front four minutes later. Gallagher headed a ball back across goal and Carrick was on hand to power a diving header home from close range. The lead could not have been more short-lived as the home side were awarded a penalty within a minute of the restart. Scott Agnew slotted the spot kick home to make it 2-2.

Ryan Wallace tried his luck from the edge of the box five minutes from the interval but Neil Alexander was more than equal to his effort as the sides went in level at the break.

Half-time: Stranraer 2-2 Livingston

After the first-half goal glut, the second half was far slower to get going, with little of note until Wallace picked up a yellow card for a foul on Longridge on 55 minutes.

The Lions made their first change a minute later as Todorov replaced Mackin and he made an immediate impact as he restored the lead on 61 minutes. A sublime piece of skill from Shaun Byrne saw him leave three Stranraer defenders chasing shadows in the corner before squaring for Todorov to fire home.

Livi made their second change soon after as Mullin replaced Carrick before the home side made their first switch four minutes later, Stephen Okoh replacing Paul Woods.

After Todorov picked up a bizarre yellow card, despite appearing to have been fouled himself, substitute Okoh then somehow avoided a caution after going in incredibly late on Halkett.

The hosts started to enjoy a bit of possession as they chased an equaliser but the Lions defence remained comfortable.

A final Livi change saw Robinson replace De Vita and he enjoyed a similarly instant impact as, with his first touch as a Livi player, he fired home at the back post to give the Lions a two-goal cushion.

Livi were able to relax now and came close to a fifth on 87 minutes when Jacobs fired over the bar from the edge of the box. Robinson tried his luck from similar range soon after but his effort flew just wide as the Lions cruised into the last-16.

Full-time: Stranraer 2-4 Livingston

The results ensures top spot in Group H for the Lions but they will have to wait on the outcome of Saturday’s final round of fixtures to find out if they will be among the seeded sides in Sunday’s draw.

Stranraer: Currie, Robertson, Dick, Neill, Hamill, Woods (Okoh 67), Agnew, Anderson, Turner (Stoney 78), Thomson, Wallace
Subs not used: McLaren, McGowan, Caldwell, McLaughlin, Burns
Goals: Neill (5), Agnew (33 pen)

Livingston: Alexander, Lithgow, Halkett, Gallagher, Byrne, Pittman, Longridge, Jacobs, De-Vita (Robinson 79), Mackin (Todorov 56), Carrick (Mullin 61)
Subs not used: Maley, Cadden, Peters
Goals: Robertson OG (10), Carrick (32), Todorov (61), Robinson (80)

Referee:  John McKendrick
Att: 341
Match Report: Andy Crawford

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