'Plastic park was magnificent': Livingston into European places after three VAR penalties awarded in dramatic win over Aberdeen

David Martindale hailed the artificial pitch after Livingston beat Aberdeen 2-1 to move level on points with their third-placed opponents in the cinch Premiership on a dramatic night when three penalties were awarded for handball following VAR reviews.

Referee Nick Walsh played on each time but was called to the monitor by video assistant referee Andrew Dallas, twice when there did not appear to be any appeals. Sean Kelly converted the first spot-kick in the 17th minute to double the lead after Jack Fitzwater's early opener from a corner in a crowded goalmouth. Shamal George saved Bojan Miovski's penalty in first-half stoppage-time before being beaten by Luis 'Duk' Lopes from 12 yards in the 58th minute.

Livingston held on despite some scares to claim a victory that was built on a dominant opening quarter when Joel Nouble and Dylan Bahamboula in particular caused Aberdeen numerous problems.

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“I think out of the three penalties I never claimed for one, so your heart is in your mouth with VAR when you are allowing balls into your box," said Livi boss David Martindale.

Livingston manager David Martindale embraces Shamal George at full time after the goalkeeper's fantastic performance. Picture: Paul Devlin / SNS

Aberdeen boss Goodwin admitted he was "alarmed" by his team's performance in the opening period but felt his team responded well. “We lost the game in the first 20 minutes, it's as simple as that,” he said. “We looked like a shadow of the team we have been lately.

“I know people won't want me to say this but our performance in the second half was the best we have played for weeks. We had more goal attempts than we have had in the past four or five games. I saw a lot of real quality football in the second half – it was one of the most one-sided halves I have seen in a long time."

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Martindale was quick to reference his artificial pitch after Goodwin claimed in the build-up that it had no place in the top flight. “I thought our shape, tactics, the players, were great but I thought the plastic park was magnificent," the Livi boss said.

Martindale, who felt George was the difference between the teams and admitted his team might have "stolen" two points, added: "I think it's a decent surface. Some teams' natural parks are not great from February, March onwards. When we get beat away from home I don't decry the natural parks. You have just got to deal with it."

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Sean Kelly scores from the spot to make it 2-0 Livingston. Picture: Paul Devlin / SNS
Livingston manager David Martindale celebrates at full time. Picture: Paul Devlin / SNS