Livingston left “The Rock” with a resounding victory that has sent alarm bells ringing around the bottom of the Championship table.
The Bet Butler Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for Capital rivals Hearts and Hibs this season but, on Saturday, it was the turn of Livi to enjoy success.
Given the adversity faced by the Lions this season, a win of any sort would have been welcomed with open arms by manager Mark Burchill and his players.
However, victory by a 5-1 margin over the Sons – beaten by the same scoreline by Hearts last weekend while Hibs came away with a 6-3 success from their trip west in November – perhaps caught the modest travelling support a little off guard.
That said, the weekend’s thrashing of Dumbarton was not the first occasion Livi have rattled up five goals on their travels, last month’s dismantling of Raith Rovers in Kirkcaldy, former manager John McGlynn’s penultimate game at the helm, being another fine showing from the men in yellow and black.
However, Saturday’s triumph over Ian Murray’s out-of-form outfit was Livi’s first three points since that afternoon in Fife – a win that moves them to within three points of second-bottom Alloa, whom they play at home tomorrow week.
“It’s a good result but we’re not going to get carried away,” Burchill stressed afterwards. “The thing is we have been playing well recently but just haven’t been taking our chances so it was fantastic the guys finally took them and we got our rewards.
“We played some decent stuff and got the second goal just at the right time as Dumbarton were beginning to put us under a wee bit of pressure. That allowed us to hit them on the counter as they had to come at us and we were able to then pick them off.”
Keaghan Jacobs’ dipping effort, the visitors’ fourth of the afternoon, was the pick of the bunch, although the 25-year old was badly at fault as his misplaced pass allowed Donald McCallum in for the home side’s consolation late on.
“We contrive to give away the worst goals ever but obviously when you’re five up it’s that wee bit different,” Burchill said. “I thought the defence was superb though, big [Craig] Sives who hasn’t played for a few weeks and Deccy [Declan Gallagher] proved he’s a top-level player.”
But the Livi boss, who appointed David Hopkin as his No.2 last midweek, singled out praise for strike pairing of Jordan White and Danny Mullen, the former recovering from the disappointment of missing a second-half penalty in the 1-1 draw with Cowdenbeath 16 days ago to net twice.
Burchill said: “That’s my job as a manager – I have to give Jordan the confidence. Even before I named the team on Saturday, I pulled him out and had a two minute chat with him just to put that belief in there. I’m delighted for him and Danny [Mullen].
“We’re gutted we don’t have a game on Saturday now [Rangers postponed due to League Cup semi-final]. But it will give me a chance to go and have a look at Alloa and get ready for next Tuesday. The guys will have a couple of days off as they’ve been working really hard since I took over, but we’ll prepare ourselves properly and make sure we’re ready to go again.”
The visitors’ defending was top class, and White headed in at the back post in the fifth minute from a Gallagher flick-on before Mullen netted the first of his brace shortly after the hour mark, teasing former Hibs defender David Van Zanten in and out before lashing the ball beyond Danny Rogers.
The confidence simply coursed through the veins of the Livingston players and from Jason Talbot’s clever pass inside, Mullen charged at the Dumbarton rearguard before feeding Keaghan Jacobs, whose shot rebounded back of the post and into the path of Mullen, who had continued his run, and the 20-year-old duly dispatched the ball past the Sons’ No.1 to send the Livi bench into dreamland.
Keaghan Jacobs’ 25-yard strike was a finish of real quality for the West Lothian side’s fourth of the afternoon before White completed a fine job with No.5, taking one touch to control a Michael McKenna cross and lashing the ball into the bottom corner.
Dumbarton: Rogers, Linton, Van Zanten (Taggart 67), Graham, Mair, Turner (McCallum 80), Fleming, Agnew, Easton (Campbell 75), Findlay, Megginson. Subs: Ewings.
Livingston: Jamieson, Sives, Talbot, Fordyce, Kyle Jacobs (Sekajja 81), Keaghan Jacobs, O’Brien, Gallagher, Praprotnik (McKenna 74), White, Mullen (Hippolyte 86). Subs: Walker, Robertson, Beaumont, Rutherford.
Referee: Craig Charleston