Chasers Livingston caught cold by Falkirk

Darren Jamieson is left helpless by Blair Alston's strike. Pic: Steven Scott Taylor
Darren Jamieson is left helpless by Blair Alston's strike. Pic: Steven Scott Taylor
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After the jubilation of last weekend’s red hot display in Kirkcaldy, Livingston were caught cold as Falkirk inflicted a narrow loss on a Lions side that remain four-points off safety at the foot of the Championship.

With Cowdenbeath’s clash against Hearts falling foul of the weather, coupled with fellow strugglers Alloa’s defeat by Hibs at Easter Road, John McGlynn’s men passed up the opportunity to assert some real pressure on their relegation rivals as Blair Alston’s only goal of the game made it four consecutive wins for the Bairns since their 2-1 reversal at home to Robbie Neilson’s Hearts.

It took two pitch inspections at the Energy Assets Arena before referee Barry Cook deemed the surface playable with the club also expressing their gratitude to the volunteers who assisted in the removal of the large pitch covers that had been in place since the middle of last week. McGlynn kept faith with the players that had ran riot at Stark’s Park just seven days prior, 20-year-old Jack Beaumont deputising for the injured Kyle Jacobs in the Livi engine room being the only change from the team that won 5-1. That meant a second consecutive start for player/manager Mark Burchill in attack with Gary Glen, Jordan White and Danny Mullen also offering their services up top.

However, former Hearts No.1 Jamie MacDonald was a virtual spectator for the visitors in the opening 45 as Falkirk capitalised on what was a rather edgy display from the hosts.

Alston’s goal was certainly the most redeeming feature from a particularly dull half of football, the talented midfielder playing a clever one-two with former Hibs player Tom Taiwo just inside the Livi penalty area before finishing with real precision into the bottom left-hand corner.

Livi, in truth, were rather fortunate to be chasing just a one-goal deficit at the break. Darren Jamieson’s right-hand post twice came to the home side’s rescue as firstly Will Vaulks, and then David McCracken, saw their efforts come back off the goal frame before being cleared to safety.

Despite a spirited showing in the second half from the players in yellow and black, most notably substitutes Michael McKenna and Myles Hippolyte offering some incisiveness to get in behind the Falkirk rearguard, not to mention a dipping drive from a Beaumont free-kick just outside the area that was blocked by MacDonald, the Bairns looked the more likely to add to their lead with Craig Sibbald carrying a real threat.

However, McGlynn wasn’t too hard on his players and commended their efforts to fight until the end.

“Our guys hung in there and I’m pleased with the way we kept going as Falkirk didn’t kill us off,” he pointed out afterwards.

“We had two or three chances towards the end but just didn’t quite manage to get something out of it. I thought Falkirk were the better side first half and probably deserved to be in front, but I didn’t think there was much in it. Falkirk are a good side so we knew it was never going to be easy.

“It’s not the end of the world [losing the game]. Our objective is 20 games now to get above Cowdenbeath and Alloa and anyone else who we can get above so it’s not changed just because we lost on Saturday.”

McGlynn is hoping for some respite in the days ahead as a result of last Wednesday’s decision to adjourn former chief executive Ged Nixon’s hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to December 23. The former director was in court last week seeking an “Arrestment of Funds Order” being imposed, a move that would freeze his former club’s finances as he looks to recoup more than £260,000.

Asked if the threat of administration reported had any bearing on his players’ mindset ahead of the visit of Falkirk, McGlynn said: “We wouldn’t make any excuses with what happened last week. Players don’t think about that when they cross the line so it’s never been even mentioned since last Monday. We’d rather not have what’s going on in the background but it is what it is so we just need to get on with it.

“As manager and players, we don’t talk about it that much as we don’t need to get involved. It will all come out in the wash so we just make sure we get on with the football side of things.”

McGlynn’s opposite number Peter Houston was sincere in his assessment of the West Lothian side’s current predicaments at boardroom level.

Houston said: “John McGlynn is a really good man and I know him really well so I feel for them with what’s going on at this moment in time. Livingston are a good club and I hope they can come through it.”

Ally McCoist’s decision to offer his resignation as manager of Rangers may afford some hope that Livingston can go to Ibrox on Saturday with a different perspective. With the Glasgow giants coming off the back of a disappointing 2-0 defeat by Queen of the South at Palmerston, a result that sees them trail league leaders Hearts by nine points, Livi, simply, have nothing to fear.

He added: “It will be interesting to see what happens but we can only do what Queen of the South did on Friday night and look after ourselves. What happens at Rangers might have some impact on the game on Saturday but we can’t control that so we’ve just got to make sure we’re ready to play.”

Livingston: Jamieson, Mensing, Fordyce, Keaghan Jacobs, Gallagher, Beaumont, White, Glen (Ogleby 81), Mullen (Hippolyte 81), Burchill (McKenna 70), Rutherford. Subs: Grant, Sives, Praprotnik, Currie.

Falkirk: MacDonald, Duffie, McCracken, Vaulks, Taiwo (Cooper 80), Alston, Sibbald, Grant, Leahy, Biabi (Shepherd 85), Loy. Subs: Bowman, Smith, Dick, Grant, Shaugnessy.

Referee: Barry Cook.

Attendance: 1176.