Saturday November 14, 2020

Betfred Cup Group H

Livingston

4-1

Alan Forrest 57, 83
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas 58 pen, 67

Airdrieonians

Thomas Robert 52

Two goals in two minutes undid Airdrie’s good work as the Diamonds were unable to prevent Livingston overturning Thomas Robert’s formidable strike.

Kyle MacDonald and Sean Crighton returned to the starting line-up after the midweek loss to Edinburgh City, with Harlain Mbayo and Eoghan Stokes the men to make way.

Livingston’s Alan Forrest has gone from strength to strength since joining the Lions from Ayr United, and Sean Crighton had to be alert to close the forward down after six minutes, forcing a rushed effort which went wide of David Hutton’s goal.

Josh Kerr’s powerful effort two minutes later looked to be on target, but a desperate block from the home defence averted the danger.

Thomas Robert was again looking lively for the Diamonds, but fired wide after creating space for a shot on 21 minutes.

Hutton saved well from Josh Mullin as play raged from end to end, with Airdrie controlling possession but Livingston looking increasingly dangerous on the attack.

The Diamonds keeper saved again a minute later, dealing with Craig Sibbald’s curling shot.

Veteran Livi goalie Gary Maley also looked to be on form at the other end, beating away a thunderous half-volley from Kyle MacDonald.

Only a last-ditch challenge prevented Connell from going through on goal on the half-hour mark, with referee David Munro uninterested in Airdrie’s claims for a foul.

Hutton was in action again before the break, getting down to deal with a long-range effort before punching out a curling free-kick. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair made good contact with the return ball, but his header was over the crossbar.

MacDonald almost grabbed a fluke early in the second half when his low cross whistled wide of the far post with nobody from either side able to make contact.

The same player fed Robert after a fine reverse pass from Dale Carrick, but the Frenchman was well marshalled and touched the ball too wide for a shot of any consequence.

Three minutes later there was no denying Robert his first senior goal as he picked the ball up after good interplay by Carrick and Griffin Sabatini. Dropping the shoulder to ghost past a defender, the midfielder switched feet and rocketed a shot into the top corner, giving Maley no chance.

Robert received a yellow card for removing his shirt in celebration, but that didn’t take the shine off a magical moment for the former Montpellier man.

Sadly, Airdrie’s joy was short lived as a ten-minute assault on the Diamonds goal put Livingston firmly in control.

Picking the ball up on the left, Forrest cut inside and sent a fine strike into the net from 20-yards to draw the home side level, and little over a minute later the frontman was felled in the box by Hutton to give the Lions the chance to take a quick lead. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas made no mistake from the penalty spot.

The former Arsenal striker had been well contained until that point, but on 66 minutes he grabbed a second, controlling well in the box and turning to fire home an impressive finish.

With Livingston in the ascendancy, substitute Jason Holt went close with a 70th minute effort, hammering the ball just wide of the post.

Airdrie broke upfield and had strong penalty claims as the ball hit a Livi hand, but the referee allowed play to continue.

Sean Crighton joined the attack with fifteen minutes remaining and two good headers in the box had the home defence scrambling, with Maley eventually punching clear.

Livingston got their fourth with seven minutes remaining, and there was a slice of luck for Sibbald as he pounced on a ball which broke straight into his path after a challenge. The former Falkirk star unselfishly squared for Forrest, who calmly slotted home his second of the match.

Sibbald himself had a late effort, but it was well off-target and there was no further scoring.

The defeat ends a disappointing Betfred campaign for the Diamonds, who return to their primary focus next weekend with a trip to Station Park to resume their League One campaign against Forfar Athletic.

Stuart Mathie at The Tony Macaroni Arena.

Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.

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