Livingston boss Mark Burchill has targeted an “unexpected” victory over Hibs to boost his team’s chances of avoiding the drop after a 2-0 defeat at home from play-off chasing Raith Rovers.
It was another gloomy afternoon at the Energy Assets Arena on Saturday with Raith the latest team to heap misery on a Lions side that remains six points adrift at the foot of the Championship.
Capital duo Hearts and Hibs kept up their end of the bargain at the weekend, with 10-0 and 1-0 defeats of two of Livi’s closest rivals, Cowdenbeath and Alloa.
However, Burchill’s men came up short when it mattered, failing to take control of their own destiny against a side they so convincingly swept aside 5-1 at Stark’s Park in December.
A fourth-consecutive defeat since the 0-0 stalemate with Alloa at the beginning of last month has now left Livi’s survival hopes hanging by a thread ahead of the clash with high-flying Hibs at Easter Road a week on Wednesday.
But Burchill is adamant a positive outcome against Alan Stubbs’ side is just what would reignite the club’s slim hopes of avoiding the drop.
“What’s really needed is an unexpected win,” the Lions boss said. “Out of the teams at the bottom of the league we’ve not had that result yet that everyone has kind of said ‘wow, that came out of nowhere’. We need to go forward together. The guys are down, but we’ll pull ourselves together and we’ll get ready for Hibs. But we need to play for 90 minutes and stop conceding so early in games.”
The former Celtic and Hearts striker must have felt he was reliving last weekend’s first-half horror show at Falkirk as goals from Rovers’ Ross Callachan and Lewis Vaughan inside the opening 20 minutes had the Fifers in complete control.
“It was similar to last week’s game at Falkirk,” Burchill said. “They are schoolboy errors again for the goals so we’re losing cheap goals and missing big chances. At the end of the day, it’s going to be difficult for us if that’s going to happen. We’re at the bottom of the league; we’ve not got a lot of confidence and we’re fragile.
“We’re bitterly disappointed to lose at home. We need to try and get it back to three points as quickly as we can. After the two Hearts performances I thought we were really going somewhere.”
Despite having to play the remaining 15 minutes with ten men, the home side having used all three substitutes and captain Jason Talbot forced off with a head knock, Livi pressed their opponents with Myles Hippolyte squandering the best of the chances created before referee Don Robertson’s full-time whistle brought a chorus of boos from the disgruntled home contingent.
Livingston: Jamieson, Kyle Jacobs, Gallagher, Sives, Talbot, Keaghan Jacobs, Praprotnik, O’Brien (McKenna 46), Mullen, Sekajja (Hippolyte 46), White (Glen 74). Subs: Walker, Beaumont, Pittman, Rutherford.
Raith Rovers: McGurn, Thomson, Watson, Fox, Anderson, Stewart, Callachan, Vaughan (Scott 86), McKay (Conroy 74), McKeown, Barr. Subs: Cuthbert, Hill, Moon, Robertson, Mathews.
Referee: Don Robertson.