Livingston boss David Hopkin praised the impact of new additions Sam Stanton and Mark Fotheringham despite the 1-0 defeat to Morton in the fourth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
The midfield duo only joined the Lions on Thursday, Stanton signing on loan from Championship rivals Hibs while Fotheringham, who had a previous spell with Livi in 2011, has returned after spending almost a year out of the game after leaving Fulham.
Thomas O’Ware’s header midway through the second half was enough to earn Jim Duffy’s side a place in tonight’s fifth-round draw, but Hopkin was more than satisfied with the endeavours of his players.
“I’m really happy because I think the two new guys came in and made a difference in the middle of the park,” he said. “The two boys haven’t really played much recently but you can see they’ve got quality. We are trying to implement a different style of football and they will really help us going forward.
“We switched off at one set-play and we were punished. But we created enough chances and should have had two or three goals. If we can add a bit more quality over the next couple of weeks then that should stand us in good stead.”
The visitors’ Ross Forbes went close on the 20-minute mark with an effort that went just wide of the far post before Fotheringham’s corner was headed back across goal by Declan Gallagher, but Jordyn Sheerin couldn’t direct the ball under the crossbar.
A searching cross from Conor Pepper then caused confusion between team-mates Darren Jamieson and Ben Gordon, but Forbes somehow managed to bundle the ball wide from just a couple of yards. However, the lively Forbes atoned for his miss in the second half when his inswinging corner picked out O’Ware who rose to bullet his header beyond Jamieson.
Liam Buchanan spurned a great opportunity to level the tie just minutes later but his effort was straight at Derek Gaston when it seemed easier to score.
With Championship survival now Livi’s sole objective for the remainder of the campaign, the club currently lying ninth in the table and seven points better off than bottom side Alloa, picking up points over the next couple of weeks would appear an arduous task with three of their next four matches coming against Rangers, Falkirk and Hibs.
But Hopkin isn’t fazed by the challenge that awaits his side. “I think this league is really tough no matter who you play,” he said. “Obviously against the three big teams you’ve got to work hard but I think everybody is up for that. It’s when we play the teams in and around us that really counts, but as long as the work-rate is there then we’ll be fine.
“Of course we’re disappointed we’re out of the cup as we had enough chances to win the game but the focus has now got to be on the league. We need to start picking up points as quickly as we can. The performance against Morton was a lot better than it has been for the last couple of weeks.
“I’ve got to take the positives and as long as the players believe in me, the fans believe what I am trying to do, then we’ll be okay.”
Hopkin also revealed former Hearts striker Gary Glen had to withdraw from the starting line-up as his newborn baby son was rushed into hospital due to health problems.
Livingston: Jamieson, Neill, Gordon, Gallagher, Longridge, Mullen (Currie 85), Pittman (Knox 83), Fotheringham, Stanton, Sheerin (White 67), Buchanan. Subs: Quinn, Gibbons, Hippolyte
Morton: Gaston, Pepper, Kilday, Gaspartotto, Russell, Forbes (Lamie 86), O’Ware, McKee, McManus, Samuel, Johnstone. Subs: McGowan, Miller, Barr, Quitongo, McWalters, Tennant.
Referee: C Charleston.