John McGlynn was complimentary to his Livingston players despite the 4-0 defeat by League Cup holders Aberdeen at Pittodrie last night.
The Lions travelled north in hope rather than expectation for the third-round clash with their Premiership opponents and although a strong first-half performance gave the Livi boss reason to consider an upset may have been on the cards, the visitors trailed at the break to Ashton Taylor’s eighth-minute header.
McGlynn singled out the hosts’ second goal, Adam Rooney’s first of an impressive hat-trick, as the defining moment of a match in which Livi had threatened to equalise on several occasions.
“Until the second goal went in I thought we were well in the game so, I think 4-0 is a bit harsh on us,” McGlynn commented. “I thought we gave a good account of ourselves in the first half where we had one or two opportunities and their goalkeeper has had a couple of good saves. It was quite an open game with chances at either end.
“But it became very difficult after they got their second goal when Aberdeen showed their qualities. They’re very sharp and everyone knows they are a good side. The positive we can take is our performance in the first hour, although we got punished later on in the game. But we’ll take it on the chin and dust ourselves down as we’ve got a big game against Hearts on Sunday.”
The Championship side’s energy going forward drew praise from both Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes and the prolific Rooney despite the West Lothian outfit suffering back-to-back defeats for the first time this season after the weekend loss to Raith Rovers.
However, for the 118 fans who had ventured to the Granite City, it seemed a journey they wished they hadn’t undertaken as defender Taylor climbed highest to head in at the back post from a Willo Flood cross.
“I was really disappointed to lose a goal from that position,” McGlynn said. “It was well worked from their point of view but not so good from ours. But at half-time we were in the game.”
A ferocious drive by Keaghan Jacobs, who decided to take matters into his own hands after a shaky start, had debutant goalkeeper Scott Brown scrambling across his goal to prevent the 25-year-old from levelling.
Then Michael McKenna sent a dangerous ball across goal which found Gary Glen hovering in the six-yard box, but the former Hearts striker failed to make clean contact.
Livingston were showing real tenacity and moving the ball around with relative ease, but it took a great save by Darren Jamieson to deny Rooney after he had played a neat one-two with strike partner David Goodwillie.
Glen then must have thought he had netted his first goal since his move from Ross County in the summer when his piercing left-footed drive was bound for the far corner, but Brown was again Aberdeen’s saviour as he got down to turn the ball wide of the target.
Livi continued to attack with purpose and substitute Myles Hippolyte, seconds after coming on in the 56th minute, whisked his shot just inches wide of Brown’s left-hand post.
But the final half-hour belonged to Rooney who displayed some deft finishing to knock the sails out of the visitors – his first latching on to Goodwillie’s flick to crash his shot off the underside of the bar and into the net.
There was some concern for the home supporters when Ryan Jack was stretchered off with a suspected knee injury, but Rooney ensured their place in the last eight was safe when he added a third from the edge of the area.
Then, from a Jonny Hayes cross, Rooney completed his hat-trick with just three minutes remaining.
Aberdeen: Brown, Jack (Robson 71), Logan, Taylor, Reynolds, Flood, Low (Considine 61), Pawlett, Rooney, Goodwillie (Smith 71), Hayes. Subs: Langfield, Monakana, Murray, Shankland.
Livingston: Jamieson, Sives, Talbot, Fordyce, Kyle Jacobs, Keaghan Jacobs, O’Brien, Robertson (Hippolyte 57), McKenna (Mullen 78), White, Glen (Ogleby 78). Subs: Grant, Beaumont, Burchill, Rutherford.
Referee: A Dallas.