Livingston boss Mark Burchill admitted defender Ben Gordon should have been “cuter” in his tackle that saw the player dismissed during Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at home to Morton.
Gordon was issued a straight red by referee Euan Anderson after half an hour for a cynical challenge on Connor Pepper as Jim Duffy’s visitors capitalised on their numerical advantage to emerge with all three points and condemn the Lions to their fourth Championship defeat of the season.
Morton were 4-0 up before Livi halved the deficit late on, substitutes Jordan White and Jordyn Sheerin, the latter’s first since joining from Musselburgh Athletic in the summer, a mere consolation for the Lions who drop to the foot of the table at the expense of Alloa who were 2-0 winners at Dumbarton.
Burchill was clearly exasperated by his defender’s actions and believes he could have been more subtle in his challenge to bring down Pepper.
“The red card unsettled us as you would expect,” the Lions boss said. “The referee said he sent him off for violent conduct. Ben is a very experienced player so if he is going to bring him down in that situation then he should have done it in a cuter way. We’ve seen tackles like that and 90 per cent of them are yellow cards. But it was a stupid thing for him to do.
“Ben’s apologised. We’ll need to reassess and get ourselves sorted and as quickly as possible. It’s early days, we’ve got 33 games still to go.”
Burchill was able to find some positivity from the defeat saying: “The guys showed great character to go and score two goals and then we hit the bar. But the disappointing thing is losing four goals at home.”
Livingston goalkeeper Darren Jamieson produced a fantastic fingertip save to deny Denny Johnstone after just six minutes. Myles Hippolyte tested Jamieson’s opposite number Grant Adam from 30 yards with the goalkeeper taking the sting out the shot.
A poor Ross Millen corner, however, allowed Morton’s Stefan McCluskey to race clear and from his pass, Bobby Barr should have done better with just Jamieson to beat from inside the box.
But then came the moment that swung the game in Morton’s favour as Gordon deliberately upended Pepper on the near touchline and was sent off.
Livi encountered another setback just minutes later as the visitors grabbed the lead courtesy of a horrendous mix up between Declan Gallagher and team-mate Jamieson, which allowed McCluskey in to knock home the loose ball for the opener.
Morton doubled their advantage eight minutes after the restart with McCluskey again involved as he raced into a three-against-one situation before playing in Johnstone, who went by Gallagher and slotted into Jamieson’s bottom left-hand corner.
Danny Mullen tried to fire some impetus into Livi’s attack with a fierce drive from 20 yards that Adam parried away.
With Burchill having urged his players forward, Romario Sabajo found space on the right before crossing for Barr who had time to steady himself and lash the ball beyond Jamieson.
Both Barr and Alex Samuel came close to extending Morton’s lead but John Scullion did find a fourth on 82 minutes when he finished off a fine move from close range.
Despite a valiant effort from the Lions late on that saw both White and Sheerin added to the scoresheet, not to mention Hippolyte rattling the crossbar from ten yards, Livi must regroup ahead of Saturday’s visit to Ibrox.
Livingston: Jamieson, Millen, Gallagher, Gordon, Longridge (White 46), Cole, Gibbons, Glen, Hippolyte, Mullen (Sheerin 78), Buchanan (Faria 78). Subs: Gould, Sives, Neill, Georgiev.
Morton: Adam, Kilday, O’Ware, Miller, Lamie, Forbes (Tidser 67), Pepper, Barr, Sabajo (Samuel 77), McCluskey, Johnstone (Scullion 73). Subs: Gaston, Orr, Stevenson.
Referee: Euan Anderson.