St Andrews was the venue on Saturday for our third friendly encounter of the season as we took on newly promoted Sky Bet EFL League 1 side Tranmere Rovers.
With only a week remaining before the Betfred Cup group stages, Manager Gary Holt continued with his experimental line-up as he shaped and reshaped his squad in order to perfect the right blend.
Given the testing nature of the encounter, the opening stages were predictably cagey with a Jack McMillan’s blocked attempt from an Alan Lithgow through ball being the nearest effort on goal.
Scott Pittman and Robbie Crawford were next to pose an attacking threat as they combined well to float a cross into the box, but it was fractionally too high for Lyndon Dykes to connect with.
There were several more near things for the Lions, with firstly a cross from Steve Lawless which was swung into the area, but nobody was on the other end to despatch it into the net. Keaghan Jacobs and Scott Robinson then combined well allowing Nicky Devlin to find some space, but he was unable to control his cross and the attack came to nothing.
With the first half ticking away, a flurry of corners eventually lead to a Livi penalty when Devlin was hauled down in the box. But Dykes’ spot kick was superbly saved by the Tranmere keeper and the game remained scoreless – for a couple of minutes anyway.
Right on the stroke of half time Pittman found himself in plenty of space inside the 6 yard area and he had all the time in the world to tap home and give the Lions a deserved interval lead.
HT: Tranmere Rovers 0-1 Livingston
Menga and Sibbald replaced Dykes and Jacobs during the break as Livi returned to action with all guns blazing. Straight from kick off Devlin had the Rovers defence scampering back to make a desperate clearance.
But 5 minutes later a mix-up in the Lions defence resulted in a short back-pass being intercepted, and Tranmere wasted little time in capitalising on it for the equaliser.
Rovers were posing more of a threat by now and spurned a good chance to go ahead as a poor finish fizzed just wide of the post. Keeper Matija Sarkic was also called upon to deny Tranmere with a quality save from another attacking wave.
A mass substitution followed, with Robinson, Pittman, Lawless, Crawford, Lithgow and Devlin all making way for Miller, Lawson, Erskine, Cece, Blues and De Vita as Holt’s experimenting continued.
Solid defending from Cécé Franck Pepe stopped another Tranmere attack from bearing fruit, and his cleared ball forward allowed Lee Miller to win a free kick just outside the area. Dolly Menga stepped-up and duly smacked the ball into the bottom corner to make it 2-1 Livi.
Another couple of substitutions introduced Maley and Henderson at the expense of Sarkic and Menga for the remaining 10 minutes.
Lawson came agonisingly close to making it 3-1 with a free-kick 8 minutes from time, but the ball crept just over the bar. Chris Erskine was next to try his luck, but his shot was bettered by the Tranmere defence as it was blocked away to safety.
And right at the death the evergreen Gary Maley used all his experience to brilliantly deny Tranmere an equaliser in a 1-on-1 as the Lions held on to record the win.
It’s back to friendly action on Tuesday night as we head over the Forth to meet Alloa Athletic. Kick off at the Indodrill Stadium is at 7:45pm.
Livingston: Sarkic, Devlin, Lithgow, Lamie, McMillan, Robinson, Crawford, Jacobs, Lawless, Pittman, Dykes
Subs: Maley, Cece, De Vita, Menga, Sibbald, Miller, Lawson, Blues, Erskine, Henderson