Livingston rewarded for fighting like lions

Liam Buchanan celebrates his goal
Liam Buchanan celebrates his goal
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Livingston boss David Hopkin says his players were rewarded for their fighting spirit as they held title-chasing Falkirk to a 1-1 stalemate in West Lothian.

Craig Sibbald’s toe-poked effort on the stroke of half-time had Peter Houston’s promotion hopefuls ahead at the break but Liam Buchanan’s leveller six minutes after the restart denied the visitors maximum points.

Livi’s point, coupled with Alloa’s narrow defeat at Queen of the South, means the Lions are now five points better off than the Clackmannanshire outfit who remain rooted to the foot of the table.

“The boys gave me everything,” Hopkin said. “To go in one down at the break from a mistake was disappointing. But fair play to the players, I had a go at a couple of them at half-time and we played well in the second half. Falkirk struggled a wee bit, they had a lot of possession but didn’t really hurt us.

“So I asked for a reaction and we got that with the goal early in the second half. Our shape was good.”

On-loan Hibs midfielder Sam Stanton’s timely challenge blocked Will Vaulks’ rasping drive as the Bairns had the hosts on the back foot early on.

Jordan White then screwed his header over the crossbar from a Jackson Longridge cross before Sibbald’s corner from the right fell kindly for Aaron Muirhead whose well-driven volley clipped the top of Marc McCallum’s crossbar before going over.

Falkirk had strong appeals for a penalty waved away by referee George Salmond as John Baird went down under the challenge of Ben Gordon. The former Alloa defender then blocked a goal-bound strike from Luke Leahy.

Houston’s men did grab the initiative, though, a minute before the break when Muirhead’s long ball caught out a static home defence and Sibbald nipped in to poke the ball under the advancing McCallum.

A Long throw-in from Livi debutant Craig Halkett brought a quick-fire leveller as Declan Gallagher’s header brought out a tremendous stop from Danny Rogers, but there was Buchanan to slam the ball into the roof of the net and restore parity.

McCallum then produced a heroic stop as he denied substitute Blair Alston’s powerful header and Kevin O’Hara somehow missed an open goal from just a couple of yards from Leahy’s pinpoint cross.

Livingston: McCallum, Halkett, Gallagher, Gordon, Longridge, Pittman, Fotheringham, Stanton, Mullen (Hippolyte 67), Buchanan, White. Subs: Jamieson, Neill, Currie, Knox, Glen, Sheerin

Falkirk: Rogers, Muirhead, Grant, Watson, Leahy, Vaulks, Sibbald (McHugh 87), McGrandles (O’Hara 63), Kerr, Baird, Miller (Alston 63). Subs: Tokarczyk, McCracken, Taiwo, Smith

Referee: George Salmond

Attendance: 1536