Three games in seven days too much for Livi

David Hopkin says his squad lacks depth
David Hopkin says his squad lacks depth
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Livingston interim-manager David Hopkin has raised concerns over his side’s fitness after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat by Queen of the South plunged the Lions back into the relegation play-off zone.

Second-half goals from Derek Lyle and former Livi man Iain Russell sealed victory for the Doonhamers in what was a disjointed performance from a lethargic-looking home side.

Hopkin had steered his players to a handsome 4-1 victory over St Mirren on Boxing Day before slipping to a 2-0 defeat by Falkirk last Tuesday.

However, Livi’s second loss in four days prompted the former Scotland internationalist to cast his doubts over his players’ energy levels.

“We were all over the place,” Hopkin said. “Maybe some players have played three games in a week who aren’t fit enough to do that. Hopefully we’ll have a full week of training this week as it’s been a bit hurly-burly having three games in seven days.

“We started okay but I think we then just played as individuals. I thought we done well against Falkirk and only lost goals due to individual mistakes and it was the same again on Saturday that has cost us. It’s schoolboy errors and we don’t get those chances but we give them to everyone else.”

It took almost half an hour for either side to create anything of note, on-loan Hibs midfielder Alex Harris coasting past Declan Gallagher before slipping Russell in on goal, but Livi goalkeeper Darren Jamieson stood up well to block with his legs.

Liam Buchanan then dispossessed Jordan Marshall in the Queens rearguard but dragged his shot wide of Robbie Thomson’s far post.

The visitors raised the tempo after the interval and deservedly went ahead when former Hearts man Gary Oliver outpaced Morgyn Neill and pulled the ball across goal for substitute Derek Lyle to tap home the opener after 65 minutes.

Jordyn Sheerin got on the end of a Gary Glen corner but Thomson stood firm in goal before Russell settled the match with 13 minutes remaining as he made his way into the box before slotting past Jamieson into the far corner.

The Lions huffed and puffed trying to find a route back into the game, Thomson again denying Sheerin before Jordan White netted but was flagged for offside.

Hopkin expects to be given more clarity this week regarding the vacant manager’s position, a challenge, he admits, is proving more daunting by the day.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “I think it’s about time to reassess everything going on here. We need players in because if you look at my bench, there’s nothing there. It’s a very hard job.

“I’ve got [Matthew] Knox at 16, young [Ryan] Currie who’s 17, so we need experienced players in and guys that have played to help us where we are. That needs to be addressed and the sooner the better as far as I am concerned.

“I think any manager that comes in is going to ask for that. Any man is going to look at his squad, assess it, and see that it needs strengthened all over the pitch. We have a small, young squad but we need to try and move a few players on. Whoever comes in will want to bring in their own players in.”

Livingston: Jamieson, Neill, Gordon, Gallagher, Longridge (Gibbons 85), Glen, Faria, Pittman, Mullen (Hippolyte 57), White, Buchanan (Sheerin 66). Subs: Quinn, Millen, Currie, Knox.

Queen of the South: Thomson, Kidd, Dowie, Higgins, Marshall, Harris (Lyle 61), Millar (Pickard 85), Hutton, Jacobs, Russell, Oliver (Conroy 90). Subs: Atkinson, Brownlie, Moxon, Smith.

Referee: William Collum.

Attendance: 958.