Accies media team web reporter Mark Gillespie was in West Lothian on Saturday…
at Almondvale Stadium, Livingston
Saturday, 13th March, 2021, kick off 3pm
Livingston 2 Hamilton Academical 1
A poacher’s goal from ex Accies youth Scott Pittman settled a tight game of few chances to help the hosts grind out their first win in seven games. It guarantees Livingston top six football, while we remain in 11th and a point from the foot of the table.
The winner came after two stunning strikes lit up an otherwise scrappy encounter. Callum Smith’s 30th minute effort cancelled out an equally special opener from Jay Emanuel-Thomas at the other end. Neither ‘keeper saw much action after that. Ryan Fulton was helpless as the hosts got the break of a cross into the box, Hodson appeared to chest it back but Pittman got the final touch for what turned out to be the match winner on 36 minutes.
Brian Rice was unhappy with the goals conceded but insists his side did enough to take a point from an evenly balance match.
“I don’t think there was a great deal in it. This is a really hard place to come and get anything, but we deserved a point out of the game,” he said post match.
“We lost two poor goals from my point of view. The winner’s a ball flashed across goal, but it shouldn’t be getting across. We’re down to the bare bones but gave it everything. We missed Scott McMann who felt his hamstring in training on Friday. We didn’t want to risk him but hopefully, he’ll be back for next week.”
McMann’s absence was one of the three changes from last weekend for the trip to West Lothian. Kyle Munro slotted in at left back, while Callum Smith replaced the injured Nathan Thomas in attack. Bruce Anderson returned up front as David Moyo started this one on the bench.
Our opponents meanwhile rang the changes from last weekend’s defeat at Fir Park. Longridge, Holt, Pittman, Forrest, and Emanuel-Thomas all came in as they sought to return to winning ways.
With so much a stake for both sides it was probably never going to be a classic. After the opening 15 minutes scrap came a bolt from the blue, Bartley picking out Emanuel-Thomas in the box to turn, flick the ball up and bullet first time high into Fulton’s top corner. A goal of the season contender.
Accies had barely threatened but Smith levelled with our first opening on the half hour with a thing of equal beauty. He had his skipper to thank, as Brian Easton dispossessed Emanuel-Thomas on the edge of his own box, to help the ball on. Smith took a couple of touches before drilling right footed low past McCrorie from the edge of the D – his second goal for us.
Accies hoped it would spark something, but Livingston looked determined to get straight back in front. Pittman was inches wide moments later, blasting wide from Emanuel-Thomas’s knock down. The midfielder then returned to haunt his former club on 36 minutes. Another ex Accies youth Nicky Devlin’s turn of pace beat Kyle Munro to the right by-line, Hodson looking to have a nick on the cross. Pittman guided home as Accies appealed in vain for offside.
Anderson had an edge of box effort deflected just wide as half time approached. It was about as close as we’d come to levelling, as both sides toiled to create after the break. Accies turned to the bench and a change of shape in the second half to try and find something different. One chance went begging on 78 minutes, Ross Callachan squaring across goal, but with no takers to tap home in the six yard box.
Accies kept battling away, throwing numbers forward but a drilled Livingston defence winning all the second balls. Sub David Moyo had a header cleared away as Accies went for broke. Josh Mullin might have given the score line a more flattering look for the hosts with a 25 yarder off the upright.
Livingston: McCrorie, Devlin, Fitzwater, Guthrie, Longridge, Sibbald (Serrano, 83), Forrest (Mullin, 77), Pittman, Bartley, Holt, Emanuel-Thomas (Poplatnik, 88 ); Subs Unused: Maley, Kabia, McMillan, Ambrose, Tiffoney, Lawson
Goals: Emanuel-Thomas 15, Pittman, 36
Bookings: Devlin, 5, Holt, 40
Accies: Fulton, Odoffin, Munro, Easton (c), Hamilton, Anderson, S Martin, A Martin, Hodson (Hughes, 54), C Smith (Moyo, 88 ), Callachan; Subs Unused: Gourlay, Stanger, Stirling, Trafford, Mimnaugh, Redfern, Slaven
Goal: Smith, 30
Bookings: Smith, 45
Referee: Kevin Clancy; Assistants: Dougie Potter & Kylie McMullan; 4th Official: Kevin Graham