Accies web reporter Mark Gillespie with Wednesday’s details from Almondvale
Wednesday 3rd April, 7.45pm
Livingston 2 Hamilton Academical 0
Second half strikes from Hardie and Halkett secured three points to ensure league status for the hosts next season. Accies’ fate is still in our own hands, as we remain four points clear of trouble, ahead of a crunch home tie with St Mirren on Saturday.
We had held firm for the opening 45, only to fall behind right from the restart. All in all a frustration for Brian Rice, having got a response from the disappointment at Rugby Park.
“I asked for things I never got on Saturday, and I got it. We competed and coped with their crosses, set plays and physicality. We’ve then shot ourselves in the foot with the two goals, two stupid mistakes.”
“I thought we played with a fear until their second goal went in. I’ve been in the game long enough to see it. Boys were kicking it away, instead of playing passes.”
“Young Reegan Mimnaugh’s come in tonight and tried to do that, but he needs a hand. What is there to be scared of? I won’t accept playing with fear.”
Mimnaugh was one of four changes to the side from the weekend. Tshiembe, McMillan and McMann also made starts with. Scott McMann making his first appearance since returning from his recent arm injury, his last game was 2nd February.
Our opponents likewise made changes from a defeat last time out, with Halkett, Lamie and Hardie all in Gary Holt’s line up in place of Odoffin, Brow and Erskine.
Livi had the better of things in a tight first half, almost catching us napping within the first minute, Ryan Hardie with a free header just over.
They soon settled into their familiar style, launching it forward quickly and forcing Accies to scramble headers and clearances from their own box.
We tried to stay on the front foot, with Tony Andreu finding Kelly’s side netting on 12 minutes. All too often the final ball was lacking, gifting possession for Livi to bombard Accies with more crosses and Craig Halkett’s long throws.
It was harder still when we had to withdraw Aaron McGowan on 18 minutes, after he received a couple of hefty knocks to the back. Alex Gogic came on to play at right back.
The hosts kept the pressure up with Gallagher and Halkett a goal threat with a couple of headers. Ziggy Gordon then got a goal saving block on Hardie’s powerful effort in a crowded box on 37 minutes.
We had battled to the break on level terms, but all the work was undone within a minute of the restart. It was a simple ball through the middle, Robinson putting Hardie clean through to place a composed finish past Gary Woods.
It almost went from bad to worse on 55 minutes, as Hardie launched a quick counter for Robinson on the right flank. He sent a ball to the far post for Pittman unmarked to somehow head wide.
Accies were living dangerously as the hosts grew in confidence. Gogic was the last line of defence to block a powerful Sibbald effort of the line on 62 minutes, after another goalmouth scramble.
We tried to go for broke, introducing Miller and Davies to try and gain more attacking presence in the closing 20 minutes.
But Livi were the side creating the chances. Sibbald should have wrapped up the points on 75 minutes, with a free header on 75 minutes. But four minutes later he teed up captain Halkett to seal the three points with a header from close range.
All too little too late, Miller had our one clear sight of goal but blasted straight at Kelly with five minutes left.
Livingston: Kelly, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Lamie (Menga, 45), Lawson, Pittman, Sibbald, Jacobs, Robinson (Lawless, 83), Hardie (De Vita, 80); Subs Unused: Stewart, Odoffin, Byrne, Erskine
Livingston Goals: Robinson, 46, Halkett, 78
Livingston Cautions: Robinson, 17, Lamie, 33
Accies: Woods, McGowan (Gogic, 18), McMann, Gordon, Tshiembe, Oakley (Davies, 68 ), McMillan, MacKinnon (c), Andreu (Miller, 64), Martin, Mimnaugh; Subs Unused: Fulton, Kilgallon, L Smith, Sowah
Accies Cautions: Andreu, 61, Miller, 65
Referee: Alan Muir; Assistants: Brian Templeton and Ivan Stankovic 4th Official: Steven Reid
Attendance: 1022 (210 Accies)