Livingston resumed league duty this week with a home tie against Falkirk. Both teams had successfully negotiated their way into the semi finals of the Ramsdens Cup. Livingston went through thanks to a late Iain Russell goal against Berwick Rangers while Falkirk romped to a 4-1 away win to East Fife.
Falkirk and Livingston have made similar starts to their First Division league campaign, as both teams sit on five points after four games. Already there seems to be signs that the First Division is going to be its usual unpredictable self, so both teams went into this one with optimism knowing that a win was not beyond them.
Falkirk welcomed back Farid El Alugai while Livingston made three changes to the side that defeated Berwick. Craig Barr, Liam Fox and Kenny Deuchar all came in for the Lions. The fans had to endure a painful amount of Lady Gaga before the game eventually started after a ten minute delay.
Sadly for both fans though the game never really sparked to life until a couple tasty challenges made it interesting. Despite the kung fu football on exhibition, the game was devoid of decent goal scoring opportunities. A couple of half chances fell to Iain Russell while Craig Sibbald nearly saw his deflected effort sneak into the near post.
Iain Russell was again Livingston’s biggest threat, after a beautiful ball from Kenny Deuchar released the hitman, and his shot was drilled towards the top corner with keeper Michael McGovern doing well to tip over.
With minutes remaining until the break, Stewart Murdoch received a red card for a rash tackle on Liam Fox. Despite being reduced to ten men, the Bairns nearly took the lead after a brilliant piece of improvisation from Kal Higginbotham. The striker cleverly turned his man and shot on the half volley which was well dealt with by keeper Andrew McNeil.
The sun decided to show face and welcomed the players back onto the park for the second half. Livingston soon began to make their extra man advantage count as Bobby Barr and Liam Fox both came close with long-range efforts.
With 70 minutes gone, Livi broke the deadlock. Jonathan Brown whipped in a gorgeous ball in and Darren Dods could only clear as far as Iain Russell who lashed his shot off the keeper’s legs and into the back of the net.
From then on it was a case of keep ball for Livingston as they continued to boss the game without ever really creating any chances of note.
And just when the game looked like it would turn in Livingston’s favour, referee Craig Thomson decided to award Falkirk a last-minute penalty. Paul Watson was adjudged to have brought down Farid El Alugai on the edge of the box. Mark Millar took responsibility and drilled a low shot which keeper McNeil got a hand to, but failed to keep out.
A mini pitch invasion ensued and the drama continued right up until the final whistle. Kal Higginbotham was sent off for a headbutt on Bobby Barr and although the Bairns were down to nine men, they still held on for a memorable draw.
Falkirk manager Steven Pressley was understandably pleased with the result: “I could see us getting back into it as we have done it so many times this season. We showed great spirit and togetherness once more so im proud of the players and delighted to get the point.”
Gary Bollan was less than impressed with the outcome of the game: “I’m extremely disappointed not to come away with the three points and although Falkirk made it hard for us, I still thought we could have killed the game off. To lose the goal right at the end was a killer.”
Livingston: McNeil, Brown (Kyle Jacobs 81), Watson, Craig Barr, Talbot, Fox (Sinclair 77), Scougall, Keaghan Jacobs, Bobby Barr, Deuchar, Russell. Subs Not Used: Jamieson, Boulding, McNulty.
Falkirk: McGovern, Duffie, Dods, Wallace, Scobbie, Jay Fulton (Alston 58), Murdoch, Mark Millar, Sibbald (Weatherston 65), El Alagui, Higginbotham. Subs Not Used: Bowman, Bennett, Dale Fulton.
Ref: Craig Thomson
Photos by Colin Darchy | Other Match Photos