Ladbrokes Championship: Livingston 0 Dunfermline 0: 10/02/18

For both Livingston and Dunfermline the consolation of being out of this season`s William Hill Scottish Cup was a Saturday for this re-arranged Ladbrokes Championship match. Originally postponed on 30th December it was still a cold dark day in West Lothian as these two met for the third time this season.

A home win would take Livingston into second position two points clear of Dundee United who would have a game in hand. An away win would take the Pars back into fourth place, three points behind Livi.

Following three back to back defeats manager Allan Johnston made three changes to his starting eleven. In came Andy Ryan and Lee Ashcroft and new signing James Vincent made his debut. Nat Wedderburn, Callum Morris and Joe Cardle were all dropped to the bench. Livingston named an unchanged starting eleven.

Livingston kicked off through Scott Pitman attacking the goal at the north end of the ground. The visitors made the more positive of starts but the game halted in the third minute for head knocks to Ryan and Livis Jordan Thompson. Both were thankfully able to continue.

A Craig Hackett foul on Ryan gave James Craigen the chance to pump a free kick from the edge of the centre circle towards Jean Yves M`Voto whose header was directed back across the box for Clark but the skipper was penalised for his challenge and Livi survived.

In eighth minute a Pittman shot was deflected behind off Ashcroft for a corner on the right that was defended. Four minutes later Ryan Williamson tracked Nicky Cadden`s strong run down the left and he saw the ball out for a goal kick.

The Pars had a good chance in 13 minutes when Tom Beadling flicked the ball interest the path of Declan McManus. He chose to shoot on the angle and sent the ball wide beyond the far post when Ryan was possibly better placed for the cut back.

Lee Robinson was made to hold a long range effort from Cadden and at the other end Clark drove a shot just outside the right goalpost. Craigen`s free kick was then deflected behind by Halkett and the Fifers had a 20th minute corner. There was a lot of jostling in the box as four Pars players closed up to be marked by four opponents. When acraigen delivered M`Voto was blown up for too enthusiastic an effort to get on the cross.

The Pars were awarded another free kick in 24 minutes for Shaun Byrne`s tackle on Clark and the former Pars player required the physio`s attentions. Steven Boyd replaced Byrne before Craigen took the free kick short to Williamson who scurried up the right and put in a low cross that was cleared.

Craigen had a shot and then another free kick that he sent into the box but none troubled keeper Neil Alexander. In 29 minutes there were multiples chances, Ryan got a shot in that rebounded back for Clark to fire a good on target shot from 18 yards that a defender headed clear. Craigen sent the ball across the face of goal, Alexander tipped the ball away and Williamson returned the ball from the right, Craigen received on the left and drove the ball low into the crowded six yard box only for the home defence to clear.

Livingston went back up the park and tried hard to make chances but their best effort was a shot by Declan Gallagher that Robinson held. In 35 minutes M`Voto was yellow carded for his heads clash with Lee Miller and Livi awarded a free kick. In the big Frenchman`s absence Williamson headed away the danger from the setpiece.

There were yellow cards for both Beadling and Vincent before half time for robust tackles. Robinson held a Gallagher header that Talbot deflected into his hands. Then a 43rd minute free kick was blown up for offside as Robinson tipped the ball over his crossbar.

Ryan was denied a 45th minute penalty when pushed over by Gallagher and then another good chance when Craigen`s cross from the left was headed down by Vincent for Clark to crash at goal but Alexander did well to save.

It had been a first half where Dunfermline had enjoyed 60% possession, they had created the better chances but there was nothing between the teams as they turned around.

Half time: Livingston 0 Dunfermline 0

First chance of the second half came from a free kick on the right after Cadden had cut down Williamson. Craigen`s delivery was headed out but returned for McManus to test Alexander at the near post. The keeper beat the ball away and Ryan acrobatically despatched the ball high over the bar.

A 53rd minute free kick sent forward by Robinson picked out M`Voto deep inside the Livi half and his header towards his strikers led to a corner being conceded on the right. Craigen sent that through the box and Ryan then hit the ball behind.

At the other end M`Voto stiffed a Livi cross and Robinson had to dive to the foot of his right post to deny the goal. A De-Vita free kick midway inside the Pars half was headed away by Vincent and Robinson came out to clutch the ball off the head of Miller when the ball was returned.

Alexander plucked McManus on target header out of the air after he had met Craigen`s 58th minute corner. Another corner two minutes later went all the way through the Livi box before the travelling support were on their feet to complain that referee Greg Aitken had not given a free kick on the edge of the box as Craigen was tumbled.

McManus received the lay off from Vincent to produce a good opportunity in 64th minute but at the crucial moment Ryan slipped at the far side of the six yard box and the chance was gone.

The referee became more unpopular with the 762 strong away support as he failed to punish a Miller tackle on Clark and an off the ball flooring of Williamson. Two more Dunfermline corners followed as they look the much more likely to score.

Livingston were reduced to ten men in 69 minutes as Jordan Thompson was shown a straight red for a two footed challenge on Ryan. The Pars man was to be subject of their first substitution of the day, Dan Armstrong coming on for his Pars debut in 72 minutes.

It was five minutes later when Williamson gave the sub the chance to cut in and pick out Craigen whose shot from 25 yards out was held by the keeper. A Talbot leap won the ball and when headed on by McManus towards Clark his lay off out to Armstrong was intercepted.

An 84th minute free kick was delivered into the Livi box yet again by Craigen, Ashcroft got his head to the ball but was deflected behind for a corner on the right. The corner saw the ball played on and around the home box. Clark tried to get away a shot but Armstrong had a better chance but failed to connect.

Beadling drove an 86th minute shot wide right as Livingston clung on. Williamson tried a shot but that was blocked and Beadling tried again in 89th minute as Livingston put everyone behind the ball.

A 93rd minute corner changed nothing after Armstrong had hooked the clearance out to McManus who fired over the bar. It was to end goalless and one point apiece. The draw suited Livingston more than it did Dunfermline who did go back into a play off place but only on goal difference ahead of Morton.

Livingston moved into second place level on points with Dundee United. Morton and Livingston will have played twice before the Pars have a chance to pick up any more points in Dumfries in two weeks time.
LIVINGSTON: Neil Alexander: Craig Halkett (c), Alan Lithgow, Declan Gallagher, Jordan Thompson: Shaun Byrne (Steven Boyd, 25), Scott Pitman, Nicky Cadden, Ryan Hardie (Scott Robinson 82), Raffael Da Vita, Lee Miller (Jack McMillan 71)
SUBS NOT USED: Josh Mullin, Gregor Buchanan, Jackson Longridge, Gary Maley (GK).
RED CARD: Thompson (69)

DUNFERMLINE: Lee Robinson: Ryan Williamson, Lee Ashcroft, Jean Yves M`Voto, Jason Talbot: James Vincent, Tom Beadling, James Craigen: Nicky Clark (c): And Ryan (Daniel Armstrong 72), Declan McManus.
SUBS NOT USED: Callum Morris, Nat Wedderburn, Fraser Aird, Joe Cardle, Dean Shiels, Cammy Gill (GK)
YELLOW CARD: M`Voto (35), Beadling (40), Vincent (42)

REFEREE: Greg Aitken
WEATHER: Cloudy 8C

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (away) v Queen of the South, Saturday 24th February 2018, kick off 3.00pm at Palmerston Park.

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