Kilmarnock comfortably saw off Livingston in West Lothian as they battled back from a goal down to win the game 3-1 and propel themselves into fifth place.
It was a cagey affair in the opening minutes as both teams took time to find their way in the game. The Lions had the best of the early chances, but their final ball did not allow for Gary Holt’s side to threaten Danny Rogers in the Kilmarnock goal.
After some early Livi pressure, Killie would go on to create a decent chance of their own, with a Chris Burke free kick dropping into the box. Clevid Dikamona was there to collect the loose ball but he failed to find an open man or get a shot away with Livingston able to eventually clear.
It was Livingston who would find the opener shortly after. Fresh after signing a new deal with club, Scott Pittman received a fine cut back from Julien Serrano on the left-hand side. Collecting the ball on the penalty spot, Pittman could hardly miss, slotting a shot into the Kilmarnock goal on the 10th-minute mark.
Most of Alex Dyer’s squad had been self-isolating prior to this due to a number of positive Covid-19 tests at the club which saw the Ayrshire side’s recent league fixture against Motherwell postponed and their cup tie against Falkirk forfeited.
Although Killie were showing a lack of match sharpness, they would level the fixture just after the halfway point of the first half. Aaron Tshibola was first to the ball after an excellent Robby McCrorie save and tucked home the rebound to get his side back in the game.
Burke would be next to try his luck for Killie. Cutting inside Serrano on the right-hand side, he unleashed a curling effort that crept past the wrong side of the far post. It was the veteran winger’s first real involvement in the game proving that he can still be dangerous even if he isn’t firing on all cylinders.
Kilmarnock would soon have an opportunity to take the lead after referee Greg Aitken judged that Alan Power was brought down in the box. Chris Burke would step up to take the penalty in the absence of regular spot-kick taker, Eamonn Brophy. Burke calmly dispatched his penalty past McCrorie to put Dyer’s men 2-1 up five minutes before half time.
For all their early pressure, the Lions fizzled out towards the end of the first half, struggling to make any meaningful strides into the Killie half.
As the referee blew for half-time Kilmarnock would have been the much happier side. Without threatening much they headed down the tunnel with a one goal advantage over Holt’s men. The latter would have been frustrated with the first half performance, his side failing to captialise on their early pressure.
After the restart Holt did not take long to shake things up. Scott Tiffoney was hauled off to make way for new signing, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. The big number nine look an imposing figure up front for the Lions easily dwarfing the centre back pairing of Kirk Broadfoot and Clevid Dikamona.
As Livi changed things to try and get back in the game Kilmarnock would go up the other end to score. Zeno Ibsen Rossi ran clear on the right-hand side with his deep cross causing all sorts of problems for McCrorie in the Lions goal. The keeper spilled his attempt at gathering the ball and it fell at the feet of Greg Kiltie who had the simple enough task of hitting the target to put his side up 3-1.
With the Ayrshire side holding a two-goal advantage they sat back and comfortably defended their lead all the way to the final whistle. Livingston battled well to try and get back into the game, but Kilmarnock are more than capable of defending a lead and they did just that to take the three points back down to Rugby Park. Here are three things we learned.
Pittman keeps the Livi wheel turning
Fresh off the back of signing a new contract extension, Pittman is continuing to prove just how vital he is to this Livingston side. He embodies their ethos perfectly and never fails to show up and put in a performance.
He will turn up anywhere on the pitch even when you least expect him to be there. Picking up passes and carrying the ball or arriving on the end of chance, Pittman is what every manager would want from his players. The West Lothian club have done well to keep him and he will be keen to add to the 230 appearances he has already clocked up for them.
Dyer has it figured out
Much was said about the appointment of Dyer after the departure of Angelo Alessio in the middle of last season. Dyer stayed after the departure of Steve Clarke to work under the Italian but after a few short months he was presented with the chance to take charge of the team.
At the start of his tenure things were inconsistent with results and performances not producing regular points but over the course of the last few games his side has looked well drilled and disciplined. If it were not for dropped points early on this season the Ayrshire outfit could be higher up the table.
Covid-19 causes havoc again
Another week and another Premiership game is called off due to coronavirus. St Mirren have returned another positive test resulting in their fixture against Motherwell being called off hours before kick-off. This leaves Motherwell with two games in hand that must be crammed into a packed fixture list for the season, leaving Stephen Robinson with a potential problem that was not of his own making.
Even if games can go ahead, Kilmarnock have already proved that a significant outbreak can cause huge problems and cause them quickly. Killie are pretty much out of the Betfred Cup already after being forced to field a team comprised on youngsters against Dunfermline.
A 3-0 defeat left the team with zero points from their opening two fixtures and a minus six goal difference as Falkirk were handed a 3-0 win after Killie could not field a squad to fulfil the fixture. This will not be the last incidence of games being called off and clubs will need to be careful that crucial cup ties and vital league games are not forfeited.