Livingston striker Myles Hippolyte believes their potent mix of youth and experience can lead to a successful campaign in the Scottish Championship this season having flirted with relegation last year.
The 20-year-old English attacker continued his Petrofac Training Cup scoring hot streak with the second goal in a 2-1 first-round victory over League Two Clyde as the holders began the defence of their trophy.
Hippolyte hit three goals in the competition last season as Livi secured silverware amid a struggling league campaign which saw them avoid the dreaded relegation play-off with a final-day defeat of Queen of the South.
Manager Mark Burchill handed competitive debuts to new signings Ross Millen, Jackson Longridge, Kieran Gibbons, Ben Gordon and Liam Buchanan as he named a youthful side, including Hippolyte, with five 20-year-olds.
Hippolyte has been impressed with their new recruits, stating how quickly the squad has gelled together as a whole having had just ten senior players registered in mid-June following the lifting of their transfer embargo.
“I think the players that we have brought in so far are very good and they’ll be very good for us,” he said. “We have gelled together well and there are a lot of young boys here who get on well because we are all around the same age, while we’ve got the senior players watching over us and guiding us during the game.”
Livingston flew out the traps in this season-opener and went ahead after just three minutes when Danny Mullen let fly with a strike from distance for what must be an early contender for goal of the season.
He picked up possession around 30 yards from goal and unleashed an effort which went straight down the middle of Clyde keeper John Gibbon’s goal and left him clutching at thin air.
The home side looked confident in possession, particularly in the final third where the front two of Jordan White and Liam Buchanan interchanged well with Mullen and Hippolyte out wide – appearing as if a front four as they went forward.
Gibbons, who was signed from Aberdeen last month having led their Under-20 side to the youth title last season, stood out in the centre of midfield alongside Scott Pittman and it wasn’t long before Livi got their second goal.
Hippolyte cut in from the right onto his left foot and curled a fine strike into the bottom corner past Gibbon from 25 yards.
Just a minute later, though, centre back Craig Sives was perhaps lucky to escape with just a booking after he hauled down striker David Gormley on the edge of his own box.
Clyde claimed Gormley would have been clean through with Sives the last defender but the referee thought differently.
The Bully Wee, who had to sit back and defend for the majority of the first half, pulled a goal back with their first attempt on target as Michael Bolochoweckyj bulleted a header past Darren Jamieson from a corner kick after 34 minutes with Mullen unable to hack it off the line.
Defender Bolochoweckyj then almost hauled Clyde level just before the break but toe-poked Gormley’s cross just wide at Jamieson’s near post.
Livingston came close to restoring their two-goal advantage early in the second half with what would be one of few chances either side had in a turgid second period when White headed over from a corner.
Clyde substitute Archie Campbell should’ve done better when played through but he rushed his shot which drifted harmlessly wide of Jamieson’s right hand post after 80 minutes.
Buchanan almost made sure of the win late on when he volleyed goalwards on the turn after being set up by Mullen, but keeper Gibbon did well to gather at the second attempt having got a hand to the strike.
Former Hearts and Scotland striker Lee Miller was named as a trialist on the bench for the home side, with the 32-year-old having left Kilmarnock at the end of last season, but he didn’t feature.
Burchill hopes to sign another two players this week, said it is unlikely that Miller will sign a deal with the club.
Livingston: Jamieson, Millen, Longridge, Sives, Gordon, Pittman, White, Mullen (Neil), Hippolyte, Gibbons, Buchanan (Glen).
Clyde: Gibbon, Linton, M.McLaughlin, Bolochoweckyj, Smith, S.McLaughlin (Ferguson), Murray, Gormley (Campbell), Higgins, Brisbane, Mitchell (McQueen).