Livingston’s Liam Kelly is loving life in West Lothian and is excited for what the future holds with Gary Holt’s men.
The Livi stopper returned to the Lions in the summer on a permanent basis, after leaving boyhood club Rangers at the end of last season. He has been one of the standout stars, in what has been an excellent season back in the top flight for the Lions.
With game time looking unlikely at Ibrox, Kelly jumped at the chance to join Livi in the summer, and it has paid dividends for his career. The keeper knows he made the right choice to leave Rangers, and is enjoying regular minutes at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
He told NTOF: ” I wasn’t getting any games at Rangers. It’s been nice to be back playing again. It was a bit weird when I left on my last day after being there for so long. I knew at the time I had to move on and I had to play games.
“I think I made the right decision, nobody has told me that I haven’t. It has worked well for both parties and I’m very thankful that Livingston gave me the opportunity to play again.
“I think we have surprised people this season and we are pleased with where we are. We won’t rest on that though, we want to see how high we can go. I’m just enjoying playing at the top level.”
Kenny Miller’s departure
After former manager David Hopkins left Livingston in the summer, it was Kenny Miller who was tasked with keeping Livi in the top flight. He gave Kelly the number one spot after Neil Alexander left the club.
Miller only lasted seven weeks in West Lothian, being sacked before the end of August. For the Livi players though, it was business as usual, with Kelly and the rest of the playing staff leaving Miller’s sacking to the board.
Kelly says there was no backlash from within the club.
“It may not look like that from the outside, but within the club, there was no real turbulence when Kenny Miller was sacked. It was just a decision that was made by the board and the players had nothing to do with it.
“We were doing well before Miller, doing well with Miller, and we have done well without Miller. There hasn’t been any major turbulence with it at the club, as we were doing well when he was at the club.
“We kept a few clean sheets with him in charge, and after that when the new manager came in, we have continued to play well. The transition was smooth, so we just have to keep playing well.”
Nobody would have predicted Livingston to have done as well as they have this season. With a core group of players carrying the side from League One to the Premiership in just a matter of years, many questioned whether they could make the grade at the highest level.
The Lions shocked teams around the country, with an aggressive and energetic style of play proving tough to handle. Kelly believes it was Livi’s unknown potential which helped them thrive early on.
“We were the surprise package at the start of the season, I think that’s why we picked up a lot of good results at the start of the season. Now that teams aren’t so surprised by how hard we work, and how much pressure we put teams under, the games have become harder. It’s up to us to find a way to break through that and pick the results up again.
“We just try and match up our opponents and make it as hard as we can for the opponents. Everybody knows the Craig Halkett, Alan Lithgow and Declan Gallagher centre back partnership and it’s very important to what we do.
“Whatever way the manager wants to play is what we will do. The principles stay the same and we know our plan. We just have to give it our best shot and carry the plan out.”
Enjoying life in the Premiership
This is Kelly’s first season as a regular Premiership goalkeeper, following loan spells at East Fife and Livingston.
It’s hard to tell why though, with Kelly turning in a string of fine displays for the Lions this season. Minus an error against his former side Rangers, Kelly has enjoyed a mistake free season.
“I’ve loved every minute of my time at Livingston. Even though we got beat last weekend, it’s a great platform for me to perform.
“Yeah I made a mistake against Rangers, but these things happen. I’ve got opportunities to put it right in the coming weeks. Obviously I don’t want to make too many, but it’s my first proper error. I’m glad it was just me involved, and I can just hold my hands up and apologise for it.
“We will be involved in every game we play and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. We have nothing to lose now, so hopefully we can pick up as many points as possible before the end of the season.”