Falkirk 0 Livingston 2: Boos ring out as Bairns beaten again

Falkirk slumped to their seventh league match without a victory with a 2-0 defeat to Livingston at the Falkirk Stadium.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 23rd September 2017, 9:51 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd September 2017, 9:59 pm
Falkirk suffered another defeat at home to Livingston
Falkirk suffered another defeat at home to Livingston

Goals just after half-time from Danny Mullen and Josh Mullin were enough to secure the points in a frustrating afternoon for the home support.

Pressure is now mounting on Peter Houston, whose side has now sit second bottom of the Ladbrokes Championship, with part-timers Brechin the only side below them.

The Falkirk manager made two changes from the draw with Dundee United, with Joe McKee and Cameron Blues dropping to the bench to be replaced by Tom Taiwo and Kevin O’Hara – the latter of which started the match up front with Rory Loy.

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Despite Houston saying that Myles Hippolyte may return, the forward failed to make the match-day squad to face his former club.

Before the end of the transfer window the board backed Houston in allowing him to add new central-defensive partnership in the form of Jordan McGhee and Conrad Balatoni. And while he expressed in his programme notes that he was happy with the defensive performance and chances created the previous week, he was looking for more of a cutting edge in front of goal.

It was therefore incumbent on the strike partnership of O’Hara and Loy to convert any chances that fell their way, though their day was to be far from productive.

Falkirk threatened first in the opening minutes when O’Hara received the ball on the left flank and did well to work the space and put in a decent delivery. Unfortunately there was no-one in a Falkirk jersey to put Jackson Longridge under pressure as the defender conceded a corner.

With David Hopkin’s back-three system looking to sit in and hit their opponents on the break, Falkirk went on to comfortably dominate possession for until around half an hour in. The closest they came to a goal in that time, however, was through a long-range Alex Harris effort that deflected wide and a low Taiwo strike that was blocked in a crowded penalty area.

Just after the half-hour mark Livingston thought they were ahead, and it was Longridge who was involved again when he nodded in Josh Mullin’s excellent back-post cross but referee Greg Aitken blew for a foul on Aaron Muirhead. It gave Hopkin’s men a spring in their step as they ended the half in a more positive fashion.

Two corners just before the break, latter led to chance of the match, Harris corner half-cleared, put back in by Balatoni from outside the area, Loy on the spin, agonisingly wide.

The second half was a competely different story, with Livingston dominating from the off. Within seconds of the restart Alex Harris’s short passback was intercepted by James Penrice and the Partick Thistle loanee unselfishly cut the ball back to Mullen for a tap-in.

Robbie Thomson was then forced into a one-on-one save from Pittman as Mullen turned provider.

Within eight minutes if the restart it was 2-0. Muirhead gave away a foul inches from the edge of the box during another spell of pressure from Livingston. Mullin, playing as a right wing-back, rolled the ball a yard for Lithgow who stopped it dead again for Mullin to curl round the wall and into the bottom corner of of the rooted-to-the-spot Thomson’s net.

Boos started ringing out around the stadium and Houston responded to the disastrous start to the second half by withdrawing Loy for Lee Miller – Falkirk were also forced to replace the injured McGhee with Luca Gasparotto.

Livingston were now happy to soak up pressure and moved to a back five when Nikolay Todorov was withdrawn in favour of Jack McMillan, though they continued to look dangerous on the break.

The final roll of the dice for Houston was to bring on Nathan Austin for Harris and for the first time in the match the home side looked threatening in front of goal.

He got in behind the away side’s defence on a few of occasions, the best of which saw him spin well at the edge of the box after receiving Miller’s pass. However, he could only watch as his shot rebounded agonisingly off the underside of the bar.

It was too little to late from Falkirk though, and even with Livingston reduced to ten men in the dying minutes when Gallagher was ordered off for a second bookable offence, their backline held firm to see out a comfortable victory.