Livingston produced an assured performance against Scottish First Division strugglers Airdrie after a traumatic 48 hours at the club which saw manager Gareth Evans sacked, while John Collins subsequently resigned.
Former D.C. United coach Richie Burke took interim charge of management duties for the visit of the Diamonds and will have been both encouraged and relieved by his side’s performance on the field.
It appeared that Livingston may have been about to endure a torrid afternoon, when after just two minutes Jesus Garcia Tena bundled Jamie Bain to the floor inside the box as the Airdrie man prepared to pull the trigger. John Boyle stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick, but completely ballooned it over the bar.
Despite that miss, Airdrie settled into the game quicker than Livingston, as the visitors tried to probe the Lions’ backline for weaknesses, but to no avail.
Livingston gradually began to assert themselves though and were ahead in the 22nd minute, when Gavin Griffin was caught daydreaming on the ball. Tony Andreu robbed him of possession and sidestepped a challenge before rifling the ball low past Robbie Thompson into the bottom right hand corner.
Livi doubled their lead with 38 minutes gone, when Andreu doubled his tally for the day, picking the ball up around 25 yards from goal, before fizzing a low shot into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Tony Andreu was on fire, and almost had a first half hat-trick to boast of moments later when Iain Russell’s cross was met by the onrushing Frenchman, whose volley cannoned off the post to deny him his third of the game.
However, Russell ensured that Livingston finished the half with a healthy three goal lead, after he was fed by Stefan Scougall, allowing him to knock it high past the helpless Thompson.
Half time substitute Sean Lynch only contributed to Airdrie’s woes, as he was booked twice within 30 minutes to leave the Diamonds three goals down, and a man short.
The brilliant Scougall capitalised on this fully, when in the 77th minute, he played a cute one-two with Marc McNulty, giving him time and space to slot it into the right hand corner.
Airdrie grabbed themselves a consolation in the dying seconds of stoppage time, when John Boyle pounced on a defensive error to run clear and drilled the ball low past Andy McNeil in the Livingston goal, to at least restore some pride in the result for the visitors.
Interim coach Richie Burke was generally pleased with the performance of those on the pitch, he said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to bits. How good was Stefan Scougall today? He was fantastic. Liam Fox and Kyle Jacobs covered every blade of grass today, they were breaking out of midfield and put in a great shift for us.
“The first half I thought we were OK, the second half perhaps we took our foot off the gas and we were a little bit complacent. But I thought the centre-halves were immense today. Burton O’Brien never gave the ball away for the entire match either. So there were plenty of positives to take from today.”
Airdrie United manager Jimmy Boyle spoke afterwards, and perhaps seemed to indicate a sense of inevitability about his side’s eventual relegation this season, he commented: “I have no qualms about the way the game finished. They were the better team, and deserved the points. Although I’d have liked to have seen the penalty go in to see how different the game might have been from there.”
“You can see the lack of confidence on the pitch. We’re massively young. The back five are all around 17 years old and haven’t played in this division. They work hard and they try, but they have their frailties. But we’re running out of games now, and we’ve had too many performances like that today, which is why we are where we are. We have ten games left, and to be honest it would take a massive push to stay up now.”
Livingston: McNeil, McCann, Booth (Talbot ’79), Tena, Barr, O’Brien, Jacobs, Fox, Andreu (McNulty ’59), Scougall, Russell (Morton ’70).
Livingston subs: Morton, McNulty, Mullen, Talbot, Jamieson.
Airdrie: Thompson, O’Neill, Warren (Lynch ’46), Buchanan, Lamie, Hetherington, Bain, Blockley, Watt (Donnelly ’70), Griffin (Kilpatrick ’42), Boyle.
Airdrie subs: Kilpatrick, Donnelly, Moore, Lynch, Arthur.
Referee: Stephen Finnie.