Livingston fans got their first look at Mark Burchill’s new-look side as 828 saw an encouraging performance in last night’s 1-0 defeat by Real Sociedad.
This was a first home outing for the Lions after away wins at Stenhousemuir and Stirling Albion, followed by a 0-0 draw with Dunfermline at Broxburn Athletic’s Albyn Park.
Burchill included five of his summer additions a 4-4-2 starting line-up. Ross Millen was at right back after joining from Dunfermline, with Jackson Longridge on the opposite side of the back four. Former Aberdeen youngster Kieran Gibbons was in central midfield and Bulgarian Spas Gorgiev partnered Liam Buchanan up front.
Morgyn Neil, previously of Motherwell, played as a trialist for the hosts, fellow hopefuls Hugo Faria, Moses Duckrell and Darren Smith were on the bench.
David Moyes’ side were completing their three-match tour of Scotland, having lost 1-0 to Celtic at St Mirren Park last Friday before a 0-0 draw with St Johnstone on Sunday at East Fife’s Bayview. The most notable name in Moyes’ squad – former Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero – was among the substitutes, alongside Edinburgh-raised Iceland internationalist Alfred Finnbogason, who once played for Hutchison Vale Boys Club.
The Basques forced Livi keeper Darren Jamieson into action early on, the keeper getting down sharply to his right to tip Sergio Canales’ downward header round his left-hand post. It was clear from the opening quarter of an hour that Livi would getting the kind of work out Burchill was no doubt hoping for, the La Liga team making the pitch wide and moving the ball quickly. Canales threatened again on 20 minutes, sending a crisp left-foot drive skidding just wide of the same post.
Canales turned provider as the club from San Sebastian opened the scoring seven minutes later. His wicked, in-swinging delivery was steered goal-ward first time by David Zurutuza, the pace on the ball meaning Jamieson could only help the ball on it’s way into the top corner. Canales should have made it 2-0 when through on goal a minute later, but slid the ball wide of the far post.
Sociedad keeper Geronimo Rulli was given his first touch just after the half hour, back pedalling to hold a looping header on the line from Craig Sives.
Burchill changed to a front three of Myles Hippolyte, Jordan White and Duckrell and Livi were sharper in possession after the break. Longridge’s well struck drive from fully 30 yards whistled just over Rulli’s cross bar. Real were still the more dangerous however, and substitute Jon Ansotegi’s header drifted inches wide of Jamieson’s far post after a jaunt up from the back with 20 remaining. White then flashed a snap shot wide from the edge of the area after being teed up by Hippolyte. The big No.9 again went close with less than ten minutes to go, but his header from Millen’s cross was gathered by Rulli.
Livi gave 15-year-old Matthew Knox a first-team debut in the last few minutes.
Livingston: Jamieson, Millen, Longridge, Sives, Neil (T), Mullen (Faria 45), Hippolyte (Currie 71), Pittman (Duckrell 45 (Sheerin 90), Gibbons (Knox 87), Gorgiev (White 45), Buchanan (Glen 45).
Real Sociedad: Rulli, Zaluda (Artiz 75), De la Bella (Hernadez 45), Gonzalez (Ansotegi 45), Martinez, Bergara (Granero 45), Zurutuza, Canales (Finnbogason 75), Capilla (Hervias 45), Zubelvia, Muguruza (Oyarzabal 45).