Livingston boss John McGlynn admitted his players “failed to turn up” at Tynecastle yesterday as his side were steamrollered 5-0 by league leaders Hearts.
The Lions simply couldn’t contain their Championship rivals as the home side strengthened their title credentials with a classy and ruthless display that will not have gone unnoticed by Rangers, or Hibs for that matter.
In truth, the scoreline should have been more emphatic had it not been for Darren Jamieson in the Livi goal, who single-handedly restricted their opponents from running riot.
The visitors suffered a setback when captain Jason Talbot was replaced just after the half hour mark when he clashed with Hearts striker Osman Sow during an aerial tussle – the defender requiring eight stitches to the side of his head in what looked a nasty gash.
Nonetheless, Hearts were already a goal to the good through Soufian El Hassnaoui’s 14th-minute strike, before the Jambos capitalised while Talbot was in the midst of receiving treatment as Jamie Walker’s deflected strike crept in at the near post.
And when Sow got involved in the goal action himself just before the interval, it was a case of how many Hearts would add to their tally in the second half.
Sow and substitute James Keatings answered those fears with two further efforts late on for the men in maroon but it was the manner in which his own players failed to get going that really frustrated McGlynn.
“I’d said to the lads prior to the match I felt we’d played well in every game, but I can certainly say now that’s one game we haven’t turned up at all,” McGlynn admitted. “We never got going and Hearts dominated from start to finish. If it wasn’t for our goalkeeper in the second half, then we might have lost a few more as well.
“It’s very disappointing as it was a big occasion, a big crowd and a big atmosphere. I don’t know if that affected us because we never got going. We did better at Pittodrie last Tuesday, so we were looking for a similar performance. We made it far too easy for Hearts and they’ll not get an easier game all season.”
Livi have now conceded nine goals in their last two outings, a 4-0 defeat to Aberdeen at Pittodrie last Tuesday in the League Cup coupled with yesterday’s loss, marking the end to a hugely disappointing week for the West Lothian side.
However, McGlynn stressed the importance of taking the calibre of their opponents into consideration when assessing the damage.
“We have to take everything into account,” he explained. “We’ve come up against two very good sides. Hearts scored five goals last weekend against Cowdenbeath and we’ve also played Aberdeen, who are also a very good side. There is a gulf starting to develop, but we don’t want there to be a few teams at the top of the table and then another league forming below. We need to make sure against the others like your Dumbarton, Queen of the South, Cowdenbeath, that’s where we need to get most of our points.”
With McGlynn starved of the services of defensive trio Declan Gallagher, Simon Mensing and Bradley Donaldson, the former Hearts manager was forced into a reshuffle after the injury to Talbot. However, he was honest enough to concede that it had little bearing on the final outcome, with Hearts far superior in every department.
McGlynn added: “We had to put Keaghan [Jacobs] to right back and Kyle [Jacobs] to left back, with David Robertson moving into the middle. We felt we could get at Hearts in the wider areas, but we needed more of the ball to be able to hurt them, and to do that you’ve got to compete.
“The two guys [Morgaro] Gomis and [Prince] Buaben Hearts have got in the middle of the park are two very powerful boys and in the wider areas with [Sam] Nicholson and [Jamie] Walker, they’ll cause a lot of defences problems.
“They’ve also got the two guys up front [Sow and El Hassnaoui], who are very strong, and I think that’s the first time they’ve had these two players at the same time.”