There was to be no historic result for Edinburgh City in their first-ever Betfred Cup match, as Livingston returned to Meadowbank for the first time in two decades and ran out 3-0 winners.
Josh Mullin and Danny Mullen goals in the first half gave the visitors a cushion before Liam Buchanan made sure of three Group G points in the second period.
Unsurprisingly, David Hopkin’s team dominated possession in the opening period, although only had a flashing Mullen header wide to show for it. Even when romping to back-to-back Lowland League titles, City showed they are just as comfortable sitting in and playing on the counter as they dictating play.
The hosts gradually began to play their way into the game after quarter of an hour. Ross Guthrie showed clever feet to twist into space and pick out Ross Allum in the area, but last season’s top scorer had too much elevation on his volley to trouble on-loan Rangers kid Liam Kelly in the Livi goal. Guthrie’s own attempt from distance soon after produced a similar outcome.
Livi then went close from another set-piece, Alan Lithgow knocking down Jackson Longridge’s deep ball for Dale Carrick, but the former Hearts striker could only prod wide of Gregor Amos’ near post.
It was another free-kick that gave the Lions the lead on 27 minutes. Gordon Donaldson was penalised for a passback to Amos, and Nicky Cadden scooped the ball over the defensive wall for Mullin to head home. Amos then prevented the same player doubling the lead with a fine stop.
The League One made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time when Mullin’s in-swinging delivery was stabbed past the on-rushing Amos by Mullen.
The visitors almost killed the game within ten minutes of the restart when Mikey Miller saw his drive from distance ping back off the post. Sub Buchanan was on hand to tap in the rebound, but did so from an offside position.
The SPFL new boys were beginning to enjoy more of the ball and should have halved the deficit when Ian McFarland met Ouzy See’s cross-cum-shot at the far post, but could only send the ball flashing over.
Buchanan had the ball in the net once again for the West Lothian team when he nodded home a cross from Matthew Knox, but was judged to have shoved Gair before connecting.
Full points were definitely heading back along the M8 when Buchanan finally got his goal after tapping in Lithgow’s volleyed attempt after some penalty box pinball following Knox’s corner.
Livi were threatening to increase the lead against their tiring part-time opponents, and Amos was at full stretch to tip Liam Watt’s low drive round the post.
City, who travel to Ayr United in their second match of the competition on Saturday, were denied the goal of the game late on when Kelly produced a wonderful fingertip save from See following lovely build-up between Gair, Dean Cummings and Nico Gibson.
City boss Gary Jardine felt his team had suffered some early “stagefright” but praised their second-half display.
He said: “We always knew when we were stepping up we’d have to learn and learn quickly.
First half we had bit of stage fright – nobody wanted to make a mistake and we sat in. We gave them all the ball and it was only going to be a matter of time and the goals we conceded were tortuous – they were terrible. The second half, we asked them to be braver on the ball and we did okay. We’ll have to bank the learns and bank them quick.
“The group we’ve been placed in is really difficult and, looking at it, that was meant to be the easiest game of the lot. It’s about being prepared for the journey we’re on for the next ten months. If we can take what’s gone wrong tonight on board and what went wrong in the Hibs game, I think we can improve with every game we have.
“I’m fully confident that come Forfar (City’s first league game on August 6) we’ll be able to compete and get points when we need them.”
Edinburgh City: Amos, MacDonald, Donaldson, McKee, Mbu, Guthrie (See 62), McFarland (McConnell 82), Gair, Allum (Gibson 46), Cummings, Martyniuk.
Livingston: Kelly, Miller, Lithgow, Crighton, Halkett, Longridge, Byrne, Cadden (Knox 40), Mullin, Carrick (Watt 67), Mullen (Buchanan 46).