A fantastic defensive performance from Livingston allowed them to earn a 0-0 draw with a frustrated Rangers side at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
A cagey first half witnessed Rangers dominate proceedings without any real end product, Livi frustrating their visitors with compact defending. Craig Sibbald and Borna Barisic had good chances in the closing stages but the Lions battled on for a spirited point.
Livi were rocked by the news before kick off that Lyndon Dykes looked to be heading out of West Lothian. Reports have circled that QPR have had a big-money bid accepted for the forward, a deal which will boost the Lions greatly in a financial sense, but leaves them short of their star man up top.
Their plan in the first half worked regardless of Dykes’ absence. Rangers created few chances, Ianis Hagi scuffing a shot wide in the half’s only proper chance as the home side troubled their visitors.
Rangers didn’t get a single shot on target in the first 45 as Holt’s plan of keeping things tight seemed to be working. The Ibrox side eventually got their first shot on target seven minutes after the restart, Ryan Kent hitting an effort straight at Max Stryjek.
It was almost like a repeat of the first half in the second, Rangers dominating play but unable to do anything with their superior possession because of how tightly Holt had his team defending.
Two of the games best chances came in the final 10 minutes. Sibbald very nearly scored a stunning effort from the halfway line, Jon McLaughlin having to backtrack very quickly to stop himself being lobbed. Then up the other end Stryjek was called into heroics. Rangers full-back Barisic’s free kick was sailing into the top corner before the Polish keeper somehow clawed it out the corner .
Kent had another chance at the end but could only curl his effort wide as Livingston earned a great point against the team from Govan. Here are three things we learned.
Regardless of result in this one, Livi’s star striker Dykes was going to be one of the talking points. He’s been linked with several clubs this summer, including Rangers, but it is reported that Livingston have accepted a bid around £2 million for him.
He’ll be a tough man to replace as much of what Holt’s team does in attack goes through him. That being said, Livi could clear all their debt with this transfer and Dykes gets a big increase in pay and opportunity to play at a higher level.
This deal makes sense, and although Dykes will be a miss, Livi and the player can’t afford to turn a big deal like the one that is being reported down.
Livingston deal with Rangers aerial threat
Time and time again during this one did Rangers throw balls into the box. It has been an area of trouble for Livi, with four of the first five goals conceded by them this season coming after a ball in from the flanks.
Against Rangers though these crosses were dealt with expertly. Jon Guthrie won just about everything in the air whilst Jack Fitzwater turned in his best display in a Livi shirt so far to keep the away team at bay.
Holt hatched a plan
It was clear what Holt had his team set to do against Rangers. The plan appeared to be eat up the Gers pressure, remain compact, counter where possible. They might not have got the attacking rewards from this but it won’t take away from a very satisfying afternoon for the Lions boss.
The barricades were manned throughout the game and not only did he stop Rangers from scoring, he stopped them from having any real chances from open play. This game once again showed why teams shouldn’t relish trips to West Lothian.