Livingston enjoyed a much-needed respite from their poor start in the Ladbrokes Championship with victory over Queen of the South in the second round of the Petrofac Training Cup at Palmerston last night.
The Cup holders sealed their place in the draw for the third round when striker Jordan White bundled home from close range from a Danny Mullen cross with little more than five minutes to play.
Despite the contest needing almost two hours for the breakthrough to arrive, it was a highly entertaining clash on a muggy night in Dumfries.
That said, it was a much more even affair than the weekend’s league clash, where Queens prevailed 1-0 at Almondvale, Livi acquitting themselves much better across the park with far more composure and vigour in their armoury.
Manager Mark Burchill made five changes from Saturday’s 1-0 defeat, recalling defenders Ben Gordon and Jackson Longridge, midfielder Spas Georgiev and strike duo Jordan White and Jordyn Sheerin to the starting XI
It was the hosts, though, who were first to threaten inside two minutes when Dale Hilson peeled off his marker inside the Livi penalty area but somehow miscued his header wide from eight yards after a dangerous delivery from the left from Ryan Conroy.
Conroy was again at the heart of the next Queens move as his first-time pass into recent signing Paul Heffernan allowed the veteran striker to turn towards goal. But despite a hesitancy in the Livi rearguard to close him down, the former Hibs player looked rather rusty as he dragged his shot wide of goal.
The home side were too guilty of giving away possession in the opening half, but Livi were unable to capitalise, much to the relief of Queens manager James Fowler, who was berating his players on the touchline.
The closest the visitors came to opening the scoring arrived just minutes before the break. Longridge easily outmuscled Kyle Hutton 25 yards from goal and decided to have a crack which had Queens goalkeeper Robbie Thomson scrambling across his goal as the ball just went beyond the far post.
Livi quickly settled into their rhythm again after the break with Myles Hippolyte in the thick of the action.
However, it was the hosts’ Mark Millar who really should have opened the scoring in the 56th minute when Darren Jamieson’s clearance went straight to the feet of Heffernan. With the Livi defence completely exposed, the veteran striker fed Millar, who had time to pick his spot, but completely got his angles all wrong as his effort went well wide.
Queens made all three of their substitutions within 13 minutes of the restart in an attempt to regain a foothold in the game.
Their front pairing of Millar and Derek Lyle, who had not been on the park long, should have made more of a sumptuous Lewis Kidd cross with 20 minutes remaining, but neither could divert the ball goalwards.
Thomson then produced a magnificent one-handed save to deny Sives at the other end, the former Hearts defender first to an in-swinging Hippolyte cross from the right.
Then, after Jamieson had raced from his line to thwart the onrushing Lyle, Conroy’s audacious 40-yard attempt grazed the side netting as the Livi No.1 could only watch in hope.
Chances were at a premium in extra time, however the Lions did carve out the first opportunity to win it when Declan Gallagher met a Danny Mullen corner and there was Sives, who just couldn’t angle his body enough to keep his shot under the crossbar before Jamieson was required to parry a fierce Lyle drive from the angle of the box.
However, with just five minutes remaining, Livi booked their place in the next round and exacted revenge over their opponents when White stuck his foot out to divert Mullen’s cross into the corner of the net.
Queen of the South: Thomson, Kidd, Brownlie, Higgins, Pickard (Marshall 46), Conroy, Millar, Jacobs, Hilson (Smith 48), Hutton, Heffernan (Lyle 58). Subs: Atkinson, Hooper, Moxon, Rutherford.
Livingston: Jamieson, Gallagher, Sives, Gordon, Longridge (Glen 112), Georgiev (Mullen 64), Pittman Cole, Hippolyte, Sheerin (Buchanan 64), White. Subs: Gould, Millen, Neill, Gibbons.
Referee: Kevin Graham.