After last weekends international break, it was back to league football on Saturday as I travelled the short journey down to Livingston in what was a huge match for both sides, even as early as this in the campaign. Livingston have started their season above expectations after last seasons play-off promotion against Partick Thistle. The Lions ended on a high before the international break after impressively beating Hibs 2-1 on home soil unlike Hamilton who ended disappointingly, losing 2-1 to St Johnstone. Today was Gary Holts first game in charge of Livingston after the shock departure of Kenny Miller, ending his stay after only 6 leagues matches played.
The last time I, and Hamilton visited Almondvale Stadium was in 2014 when both sides were in the Championship. It ended 1-1 that day with Livingston taking the lead after 64 minutes through Keaghan Jacobs, before Jason Scotland equalised 4 minutes from time to earn 10 men Accies a point. A few names from that encounter have went on to much better things with the likes of Hamilton legend Alex Neil, who went on be Manager of Norwich City and now is currently at Preston. Livingston had Mark McNulty up-front that day and the Scotsman deservedly made a move down south to Sheffield United, before being loaned out to Portsmouth and Bradford City. In 2017, McNulty signed for League 1 side Coventry City, where he had the best season of his life, scoring 23 goals in 42 appearances. In the Summer of 2018, Championship side, Reading signed McNulty on a 4 year deal for an undisclosed fee.
New Livingston boss, Gary Holt opted to stick with the same side that beat Hibs, two weekends ago.
Hamilton boss, Martin Canning made a couple of changes from the home defeat against St Johnstone with deadline day signings, Scott Martin, Matthew Kilgallon and Fredrik Brustad all starting. Shaun Want, Tom Taiwo and Aaron McGowan dropped to the bench.
Hamilton got the game underway at the Tony Macaroni Arena but it was the hosts who started the much better side. After 1 minute, a goal-kick from Liam Kelly was poorly misjudged by Accies centre-back, Delphin Tshiembe and allowed Scott Robinson to slip in behind but the Livingston strike just failed to make contact. The deadlock was broken 2 minutes later and it was simply a wonder strike from Steven Lawless. A free kick was headed straight into the path of Stephen Lawless who fired a thunderbolt on the half-volley into the top left corner past the helpless Gary Woods. In what was a very flat and dull affair, the next chance didn’t come until 26 minutes in, when an Accies free-kick was delivered in, which was missed by everyone apart from Tshiembe, who couldn’t sort his feet out quick enough to connect with it. The only other chance that came in the first half was after 38 minutes when, Livingston goal scorer, Lawless, found himself in space at the edge of the box but his tame effort was comfortably saved by Woods.
Livingston started the second half the way they started the first. Only 31 seconds after the restart it looked like the hosts had doubled their advantage. A free kick was delivered into the box and it was The Lions centre-back, Alan Lithgow who rose highest of all. His downward header was brilliantly tipped onto the post by Woods, before being cleared. On the 53rd minute, it was a terrific leap from Ricki Lamie from a free kick. His header found Dolly Menga at the back post but the striker rushed his effort and sent it wide under pressure. Hamilton’s first shot at goal didn’t come until the 56th minute when, Fredrik Brustad picked up a long ball before driving forward and sending his effort at goal wide. The final chance in what was probably the worst match I will watch this season, was in the 88th minute when the hosts should of had the game wrapped up. Scott Pittman beat the Hamilton defence down the left before desperately trying to square it for substitute, Lawson, but Scott Martin tracked backed well and got their in the nick of time to put it out for a corner. It finished 1-0 to the home side at Almondvale, where Hamilton failed to have a shot on target throughout the whole 90 minutes. A really poor encounter but a stunning effort like Steven Lawless’s is worthy of winning any football match.
FULL TIME- LIVINGSTON 1-0 HAMILTON
Kelly, Lamie, Lithgow, Halkett, Gallagher, Byrne, Pittman, Robinson(78), Jacobs, Lawless(67), Menga(88)
Stewart, Cadden, Hardie(78), Hamilton, Kaja, Lawson(67), Burns(88)
Woods, McMann(33), Gordon, Tshiembe, Kilgallon, Bingham, Miller, Mackinnon, Martin, Brustad(67), Sowah(84)
Fulton, McGowan, Imrie(33), Keatings(84), Taiwo, Want, Boyd(67)
REFEREE- ALAN MUIR
ASSISTANTS- ALASTAIR MATHER & MARK MCLEAN
FOURTH OFFICIAL- CRAIG THOMSON
YELLOW CARDS- BINGHAM(35), GALLAGHER (47), HALKETT(57), MACKINNON(66)
RED CARDS- 0