It was a cold, wet and windy day in Livingston and this showed in the two sides’ play in the opening few minutes. Things were scrappy but it was Livingston who started to find their rhythm out of the two.
Livingston opened the scoring when Nicky Devlin lofted the ball over the opposition defence for Scott Robinson to run on to. The striker picked up the ball, found a yard of space, and saw Ross Laidlaw off his line. He dinked his delicate chip over the keeper to put his side 1-0 up.
Hughes’ side showed that they shouldn’t be written off though after a quick counter-attack to get up the pitch and a pass on the edge of the box from Harry Paton found Charlie Lakin in the six-yard box and he placed the ball past Max Stryjek to level the scoring.
County clearly gained a lot of confidence after their goal and realised they were capable of another. Jason Naismith picked up the ball on his right flank and played a brilliant cross which met the head of Oli Shaw, but the striker couldn’t navigate the header goalward and it flew over the bar.
The second half started similarly to the first with Livingston in control, but they struggled to find any real chances. A good one a few minutes in came when Marvin Bartley made a driving run down the left flank and cut the ball back to Scott Pittman, who laid off Devlin for a shot, which was blocked.
It was Livingston’s substitutions which made the difference between the two sides at the end of the day. Alan Forrest, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Jack Hamilton all came on for the home side and they changed the game. With 10 minutes to go, all three subs played a part in the move that got them their long-awaited second.
Emmanuel-Thomas had great feet to get through the Staggies defence and played the ball to Hamilton who held it up before Pittman was presented with a chance. The midfielder took a shot, and it was deflected and caught Laidlaw off guard, and it found the back of the net.
They weren’t finished there though. In the dying moments of the game Forrest picked the ball up on the halfway line, making a darting run through before playing the ball across the box for Hamilton to fire it home. This result means Livingston are sitting comfortably ahead of Dundee United in 5th place whilst Ross County still sit bottom of the league. Here are three things we learned.
Livi can’t be stopped
This result takes Livingston to eight straight wins since Martindale took over in November. They look better than ever in the Premiership, sweeping past teams with ease.
They are full of confidence and will be hoping to take that into their crunch game against Aberdeen and the double header against Celtic.
Subs are the difference
Livingston may have been the stronger of the two sides throughout the match, but it looked unlikely that they would find the winning goal.
Once the subs of Emmanuel-Thomas, Forrest and Hamilton were made, they seemed the favourites to snatch the win and take the draw away from the visitors. They did just that.
It might not have been the best game of football in the world, but for those who like to see a physical game, then this was the one for you. There were six yellow cards in the game with Ross County picking up five of them.
Fortunately though, there didn’t seem to be any injuries for either side, but discipline is something that Ross County will need to be wary about in the future.
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