Livingston 0 Falkirk 0: Bore draw for Paul Hartley's Bairns

Quality was in short supply as Falkirk and Livingston fans endured a slog for a point.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 17th March 2018, 3:59 pm
Updated Saturday, 17th March 2018, 5:38 pm
Andrew Nelson and Gregor Buchanan. Picture Michael Gillen.

Livingston have not lost a league game to Falkirk in fivegames, while the Bairns last defeat in the SPFL Championship came at home to David Hopkin’s side.

The runs continue but only thanks to Bairns captain Aaron Muirhead booting the ball off the line from Lee Miller’s late header.

That was about as close as either side came, and Falkirk tailed off dramatically and were holding on towards the end, despite a bright start.

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Craig Sibbald. Picture Michael Gillen.

The first opening for Falkirk came on 14 minutes and gave optimism for more when Alex Jakubiak spun Craig Halkett in midfield and fed wide to Longridge overlapping on the right. The frontman, whose brother Jackson lined up opposite him, swung a cross in that Andrew Nelson raced to get infront of Gregor Buchanan to meet. He did but couldn’t get enough on it and Neil Alexander easily gathered.

Chances dropped but the Bairns were defending pretty stoutly early on, Peter Grant’s no nonsense brand was easily keeping the home side out, andConor Hazard was rarely bothered, otherwise from claiming over-hit through balls.

As things settled Jakubiak pulled one out the top drawer and only a goalkeeper the calibre of Neil Alexander managed to keep it out. Jordan McGhee’s low cross was taken on the chest by the on-loan Watford man and he spun and blasted high at goal only for the former Scotland goalie to slap the effort over the bar.

Then followed a purple patch fo Falkirk, exploiting the right of Livingston’s defence, but the home side responded with two close calls. Josh Mullin turned in Declan Gallagher’s driven cross but was flagged offside then Scott Pittman turned Steven Boyd’s cross over from the six-yard box.It was a scrappy, first half, without much interest really.

Alex Jakubiak. Picture Michael Gillen.

Right on the whistle Peter Grant threw himself at Steven Boyd’s feet and caught the ball under his body but did enough to stop it and get out of the way and avoid conceding a penalty.

Similar stodgy fayre was served up in the early part of the second half, only lit up by Lions boss David Hopkin hitting the deck trying to boot the ball back into play. It gave the fans on both sides of the Tony Macaroni arena a laugh, but it was an afternoon of bemusement, not amusement.

Andrew Nelson did go close, nipping in front of Neil Alexander’s routine catch and then attempting to chip the ex-Rangers goalie, who gathered.

The Bairns went close through Jakubiak and Reghan Tumilty both having shots on the angle blocked by the goalkeeper before Livingston stepped it up.

Jordan McGhee. Picture Michael Gillen.

A series of second half corners kept the Bairns backline on their toes, but they couldn’t beat Conor Hazard.

Livingston improved further when ex-Bairn Lee Miller came on, off the bench, but Paul Hartley stuck to his starting line-up, the same one which had defeated Morton with aplomb a week ago.

This was far from as enthralling performance and both sides seemed content taking a point with the likeliehood of either side making a breakthrough highly dubious with such a dearth of quality.

The Bairns pitched Kevin O’Hara on with ten minutes to go to try to win it but only after Ryan Hardie flashed a header across goal in the closest Livingston came to the winner.

Alex Jakubiak. Picture Michael Gillen.

There was another late scare for the Bairns when only an Aaron Muirhead boot kept Lee Miller’s header from crossing the line.

Craig Sibbald. Picture Michael Gillen.
Alex Jakubiak. Picture Michael Gillen.
Jordan McGhee. Picture Michael Gillen.
Alex Jakubiak. Picture Michael Gillen.