Our reporter Mark Gillespie with Saturday’s details…
Foys Stadium, Hamilton
Saturday 25th January 2020, 3pm
Hamilton Academical 2 Livingston 4
A first win at NDP since 2012 moved the visitors clear in fifth spot, while Brian Rice’s side remain a point off the bottom. Shaun Want’s first goal of the season had brought the early breakthrough, but an injury hit Accies defence looked fragile all afternoon. Craig Sibbald swiftly cancelled out the Accies lead, before Aaron Taylor-Sinclair got Livi in front by half time. Debut man Sam Woods dragged Accies briefly level after the break, but Stevie Lawless restored the advantage from the spot. Scott Pittman returned to haunt his former club soon after, allowing the visitors to comfortably saw the game out.
Brian Rice had no arguments over the game’s outcome as he spoke post-match.
“I thought Livingston thoroughly deserved to win. They did everything we spoke about before the match. We know their set plays are good and they attack them aggressively. We didn’t defend the second balls. The first goal is a long throw into our box, and we’ve conceded goals to a cross and a corner.The penalty’s a big decision at a big time. But the referee calls it as he sees it,” the Accies boss said.
“I thought we were a soft touch today defensively. For me to have five or six regular starters out is hard. I had to put out a back four who have never played together. No team in the premier league can afford that. It was an opportunity for some players today to try and stay in the team. They may have to stay if we don’t get the injuries back.”
All in all there were four changes from the side that lost at Easter Road. Alex Gogic took over the captain’s armband in the absence of Brian Easton. Sam Woods made his debut, with Shaun Want playing at right back. Lewis Smith returned to the starting eleven, with Marios Ogkmpoe starting up front in place of the injured George Oakley.
Livingston also shuffled things around, with three changes from their midweek line up.
We made the brighter start, Miller setting up Ogkmpoe inside the box in 8 minutes, but he couldn’t control his header. The opener arrived on 13 minutes, as the big Greek turned supplier, latching onto Smith’s through ball to find Want in the middle to tap home.
But any hopes that the new look side would take some confidence were quickly dashed. Livingston were level within a minute, Ciaron Brown’s long throw from the right flank catching the defence off guard. The loose Accies clearance sat up perfectly for Sibbald to drill low past Fon Williams from the edge of the box.
It was the visitors who now had the spring in their step, with an uncertain looking Accies defence pushed deeper. Livi executed their set piece game, kept the pressure up and had their rewards on 31 minutes. Souda flashed a dangerous ball across the box from the left and the Accies defence weren’t picking up runners. From the opposite side McMillan fed the ball back in for Taylor-Sinclair to head home at the far post.
Fon Williams had to be alert on 40 minutes as Accies tried to limit the first half damage, punching a Souda effort clear. But a five-minute spell before the break gave Accies some hope. Miller was to be the liveliest threat all day and had a shot deflected wide on 43 minutes. Smith played Collar clean through in the closing first half seconds, but McCrorie punched clear.
Accies chances were few and far between in the second half, but an error by the Livi ‘keeper handed us a leveller on 56 minutes. Fjortoft rose to head a Scott McMann corner, McCrorie spilling the ball straight to Sam Woods to tap home his debut goal.
But the visitors were straight back in front five minutes later, Fjortoft adjudged to have handled in the box from a Sibbald corner. Lawless fired the visitors back in front from the spot, despite Fon Williams getting a hand to it. Accies tried to respond with some attacking substitutions, but Livi made sure of the three points on 65 minutes as Pittman found space inside the box to volley a Dykes cut back past Fon Williams from six yards.
Despite the introduction of Alston and Dales, we lacked any real cutting edge in response. Livingston saw things out comfortably to record their third league win on the bounce.
Accies:Fon Williams, McMann, Fjortoft, Collar (Dales, 76), Miller, Woods, Gogic (c), Want, Martin, L Smith (Alston, 56), Ogkmpoe (Winter, 65); Subs Unused: Southwood, Hunt, Davies, Mimnaugh
Goals: Want, 13, Woods 56
Bookings: Martin, 77
Livingston: McCrorie, Brown, Bartley, Pittman, Dykes (Jacobs, 90+2), Sibbald, Lawless (Crawford, 82), Souda (Robinson, 70), McMillan, Guthrie, Taylor-Sinclair Subs Unused:Maley, Lithgow, Lamie, Erskine
Goals: Sibbald, 14, Taylor-Sinclair, 32, Lawless 61 pen, Pittman 64
Referee: Bobby Madden; Assistants: Alastair Mather and Graeme Leslie; 4th Official: Scott Lambie