Livingston midfielder Burton O’Brien stressed Saturday’s triumph over Cowdenbeath was just the result required if the West Lothian club are to make any sort of impression at the top end of the Championship table this season.
The Lions bounced back from an opening day defeat to Hibs to emerge with a 2-1 victory over the Blue Brazil at the Energy Assets Arena – a timely boost ahead of Wednesday night’s home showdown with Hearts in the second round of the Petrofac Training Cup.
Second-half goals from Danny Mullen and Jordan White – the first coming after just 27 seconds of the restart – gave John McGlynn’s men their first three points of the campaign, despite a late goal from the visitors, in rather unseasonal conditions.
And it was seasoned professional O’Brien, in his second spell with the club having made his first appearance in 2002 before leaving for Sheffield Wednesday three years later, who provided his side with the composure to spark a spirited second-half display from the men in yellow-and-black.
O’Brien, 33, said: “If we are going to have a decent season then these are the games we need to win. We found ourselves with a defeat last week despite a decent performance so first and foremost it was important we got the result. I thought we played well but we could have been a wee bit more clinical and we are obviously disappointed to lose the goal so late on.
“To be fair to Cowdenbeath they were frustrating us as they held their shape really well. It’s wasn’t easy so we had to be patient, but scoring the goal in the second half as early as we did opened them up where they then had to come out.”
O’Brien is just the sort of steely character a side carrying so many youngsters requires in what is expected to be a hotly contested league this year, but the former Falkirk player has every confidence in his team-mates. He added: “I try to help the younger ones throughout the games but they are talented boys or they wouldn’t be here at Livingston otherwise. Being young, their form is going to be up and down so it’s just a case of being patient with them and more often than not they’re going to perform.”
After a fairly turgid first-half affair, the hosts left their mark on their opponents within 30 seconds of referee Euan Anderson’s whistle as a Kyle Jacobs cross-cum-shot was palmed straight into the path of Mullen who, at the second attempt, struck the ball high into the top right-hand corner of the net from a couple of yards out.
A terrific second followed on 75 minutes when a great interchange between former Hearts striker Gary Glen and White presented the latter with just Thomas Flynn in the Cowdenbeath goal to beat – which he duly did by rounding the goalkeeper and slotting home.
The visitors had already rattled the crossbar from the right boot of Jon Robertson before Lewis Milne thundered a shot high past Darren Jamieson from substitute Craig Sutherland’s cutback with a minute of the 90 remaining, but Livi stood their ground to earn a well-deserved win.
Boss McGlynn paid tribute to the Central Park outfit for restricting his players to very few openings in the first 45 minutes, but underlined the significance of Mullen’s instinctive finish so early into the second half – even opposite number Jimmy Nicholl disclosed he had yet to emerge from the tunnel to see his side concede.
“Cowdenbeath made it difficult for us,” McGlynn said. “We had a lot of the ball in the first half but it became a bit too slow and predictable. But we got a great start to the second half getting the goal after a couple of seconds.
“Getting those first three points is very important after having a difficult first game away to Hibs.”
McGlynn will today assess the fitness of captain Jason Talbot who suffered a rib injury in the second half on Saturday before deciding whether or not the 28-year-old will be fit for Wednesday night’s cup tie with Hearts.
Livingston: Jamieson, Talbot (Sives 76), Fordyce, Kyle Jacobs, Keaghan Jacobs, O’Brien, Gallagher, McKenna, White, Glen (Burchill 82), Mullen (Robertson 87). Subs: Grant, Hippolyte, Beaumont, Rutherford.
Cowdenbeath: Flynn, Adamson (Campbell 76), O’Brien, Armstrong, Wedderburn, Robertson, Milne, Higgins, Kane (Jurisic 76), Brett, Miller (Sutherland 66). Subs: Thomson, Brownlie, Callaghan, Lynas.
Referee: Euan Anderson.