ANDY McNEIL admits it was a “tense and nervous” Livingston side that took to the field on the opening day of the season at home to Queen of the South, and the Lions keeper is hoping for no repeat of that match when Livi face up to the side from Dumfries again at the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium tomorrow.
Back in August, Livi allowed Gus MacPherson’s side to romp to a 2-0 lead before snatching a 2-2 draw with a late Iain Russell penalty, but this weekend a win is arguably more important for Gary Bollan’s men than it was back in week one, with Livi suffering three defeats on the bounce.
And McNeil hopes that if nothing else, the players won’t make the same mistakes as they did first time around.
The former Hibee said: “We were a bit nervous and let the game pass us by in August. A lot of the boys hadn’t played in the First Division before and although they had great experience in the Second and Third, I thought we were maybe a bit tense and showed Queens a bit too much respect.
“The manager had a few strong words to say at half-time and we took the game by the scruff of the neck and started doing stuff better in the second half and got a decent result.”
After that hard-fought game, McNeil says he has been taken aback by the Doonhamers’ poor form this campaign, after reckoning they had the perfect mix to succeed in Division One.
“I’m very surprised at how Queens have done,” he said. “They’re a typical Gus MacPherson team: they’ve got good physicality about them with experienced guys who have played at a higher level.
“Yet we showed great desire and caused them lots of problems down at Palmerston and they couldn’t live with us, so I think if we show that desire on Saturday then we’ll get the right result.”
The opportunity at home comes at an important time for the West Lothian side, who suffered a 3-0 loss at Dens Park last week after two 2-1 defeats on the bounce.
McNeil added: “Last week against Dundee didn’t transpire the way we’d hoped and I don’t think we passed it well enough or dictated the game enough, but up until the second goal I thought we were right in it and had chances to level. We have an opportunity to put it right tomorrow.”