Livingston came back from a goal down against a spritely Airdrie side to win 4-1 in West Lothian and finish top of group H in the League Cup.
It was an entertaining affair right from the off as both teams looked to finish the group stage with a win. Airdrie would take a while to settle into the game but once they found their feet the Diamonds were able to control the possession for a short spell.
The Lions would answer back immediately with a dominant spell of their own. Scott Robinson missed the ball entirely when it fell at his boots seven yards out from goal. He would have another opportunity seconds later, lashing a shot into an Airdrie defender.
The Diamonds would soon find themselves under the cosh again as Livi streamed forward looking for the opener. Josh Mullin looked to have an easy tap-in, but David Hutton produced a world-class save to prevent the midfielder rifling Livingston into the lead.
The game quickly developed into a tasty cup tie after the Livi chances. Keen to make a good account of themselves, Airdrie carved open the Livi backline with Kilmarnock loanee Kyle Connell having an excellent chance to go one-on-one with Maley. The young striker could not nick the ball away from Nicky Devlin, who took down the 19-year-old but managed to get a foot on the ball to prevent a likely goal.
As the first 45 minutes came to a close, the tie remained level with Livingston looking much more likely to open the scoring. But for all Livingston’s dominance in the first half, Airdrie would score the opener.
Thomas Robert arrived on the left-hand side and curled in a sublime effort to score his first senior goal and take the Excelsior outfit into the lead early on in the second half. Despite their missed opportunities in the first half Livingston would reply with their first shot of the second half.
Forrest began his typical move of cutting inside from the left and struck one from just outside the box. His effort was always destined for the corner and Hutton could not get his gloves to it this time to repeat his first half heroics.
The man between the sticks for Airdrie quickly went from hero to zero after his side conceded the equaliser. A misjudged ball over the top eliminated the Diamonds defence and all Forrest had to was collect the ball.
Hutton came rushing out from the goal line and cleared out the winger inside the penalty area. David Munro immediately pointed to the spot and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas dispatched the penalty to put Livi up 2-1 moments after they found themselves a goal down.
A two-goal cushion is what manager Gary Holt would have been looking for and he got it just after an hour of football. A simple corner wasn’t dealt with by the Airdrie defence and Emmanuel-Thomas did well to turn his defender and rocket a shot low into the bottom corner to put his side 3-1 up and firmly in control of the tie.
As time wore on, Airdrie faded out of the game, with Forrest scoring his second and Livi’s fourth of the afternoon after another defensive mix up at the back for the Diamonds. Sibbald was the provider this time squaring the ball across goal and giving the winger a tap in.
A 4-1 defeat was harsh on the Diamonds as they had made a good account of themselves in the first half. Here are three things we learned.
Livi take their chances
Holt has criticised his players recently for not taking their chances to close up games or take the lead. The performance in the first half was much of the same. Chance after chance arrived at the feet of the Livingston players and time and time again, they could not put the ball in the back of the net.
Going a goal down seemed to kick Holt’s men into gear and they quickly put their missed chances behind them.
Airdrie’s league chances
While they may not have the finances similar to Cove Rangers or the Premiership experience of Partick Thistle, Airdrie certainly looked impressive in the cup tie against the Lions.
Busy up top and solid in the midfield, the Diamonds look like they could pose a few problems for the teams looking for automatic promotion to the Championship this season.
Up and away
After Anthony Stokes’ very brief stint in West Lothian, Livingston were short on strikers. Lars Lokotsch had a couple of outings at the top of the pitch but was shipped off to Raith Rovers on loan. Step forward, Emmanuel-Thomas.
The striker dwarfs most defenders and what he may lack in speed he certainly makes up for in size. You don’t associate players like Emmanuel-Thomas with good feet, but he showed that he is capable of the odd piece of skill or two against Airdrie.