Livingston left with a mountain to climb in play-off

Livingston's Championship status is hanging by a thread after a shock 5-2 defeat by Stranraer in the first leg of their semi-final play-off at Stair Park.

Thursday, 5th May 2016, 5:30 am
Stranraer's Andrew Stirling, second from left, celebrates after he put his side 2-1 ahead
Stranraer's Andrew Stirling, second from left, celebrates after he put his side 2-1 ahead

Despite Jordan White having given the West Lothian outfit the lead in the tenth minute, the visitors were left stunned as their opponents stormed back with three goals before the break – Mark McGuigan, Andrew Stirling and former Kilmarnock midfielder Willie Gibson all netting for the hosts.

Liam Buchanan added a second to reduce the deficit with little more than 20 minutes remaining but McGuigan responded with his second just two minutes later to restore the home side’s two-goal advantage. Darren Cole’s own goal added salt into the Lions’ already weeping wounds with nine minutes remaining.

Livi have now been left with a mountain to climb ahead of Saturday’s second leg at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

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That said, David Hopkin’s men underlined their higher-league credentials within the opening minutes, Buchanan finding space to round goalkeeper Cameron Belford before his shot was blocked on the line.

Livi took a deserved lead when Josh Mullin’s delivery into the box was flicked on by Sam Stanton and there was White to lash the ball home.

Gibson was the architect with the leveller, however, his cross aimed towards the back post and there was McGuigan who sent a controlled effort beyond Marc McCallum.

McGuigan was the creator for Stranraer’s second just three minutes later as his pass inside to Stirling was expertly blasted home from 20 yards.

Morgyn Neill rather clumsily brought down Stirling 25 yards out five minutes before the interval and Gibson produced a majestic effort into the bottom corner for number three.

Buchanan reduced the home side’s lead to 3-2 with a fine header into the corner following White’s cross from the left after 68 minutes. However, Livi’s defensive frailties were exposed once again just two minutes later as Gibson’s shot cannoned back off the post and into the path of McGuigan who had the simplest of tasks in rolling the ball into the net for his second and the Blues’ fourth.

Gibson’s cross into the box nine minutes from time then took a wicked deflection off substitute Darren Cole which left goalkeeper McCallum and the rest of his team-mates completely aghast.

Stranraer: Belford, Pettigrew, Robertson, Bell, Dick, Thomson, Stirling, Cairney (Turner 88), Gibson, McGuigan (Longworth 81), Malcolm (Kemp 84). Subs: Currie, Barron, McCloskey, Rumsby.

Livingston: McCallum, Kakay, Halkett, Neill (Cole 72), Longridge, Mullin (Fotheringham 46), Pittman, Stanton, White, Buchanan, Mullen (Telfer 46). Subs: Jamieson, Currie, Knox, Sheerin.