Livi staged an epic comeback to see off Queen of the South after extra time and reach the second round of the Challenge Cup for the first time since 2011.
Livi had slumped to first round losses at Annan and Berwick in the past two seasons and appeared set for a third-straight loss at the first hurdle as Queens surged into a 2-0 lead, but Livi had other ideas and came roaring back to claim an extra-time victory.
After an encouraging pre-season, Livi were keen to get their competitive campaign off to a winning start and came close inside six minutes when a cross from Shaun Rutherford, starting in place of Jason Talbot who was suspended after his red card in last season’s Berwick defeat, was fired over the bar by Gary Glen. Queens then had their first opportunity four minutes later but Lewis Kidd fired high over the bar. Rob Ogleby was next to try his luck but, after getting in behind the Queens backline his chipped effort was just too high.
The game was very even in the early stages and it took until the 23rd minute for the hosts to get the first goal when Ian McShane swung in a corner for Andy Dowie to bullet home. Livi came back strongly from the loss of the opener and, after a mix-up in defence, Ogleby was presented with a shooting chance which Zander Clark did well to save. Queens continued to threaten though and only a great challenge from Kyle Jacobs denied Gavin Reilly just as he got set to pull the trigger. Declan Gallagher then picked up Livi’s first yellow card for a tug on Reilly, Darren Jamieson saving Michael Paton’s resulting free kick.
Queens were on top at this point and Jamieson came to Livi’s rescue again with a fine double save from two Iain Russell efforts. He was again equal to Russell on 42 minutes as he produced a fine stop to push wide the ex-Livi striker’s shot towards the bottom corner and ensure that Queens only went in at the break with a one goal advantage.
Livi started the second half well and created a half chance on 47 minutes as Callum Fordyce’s cross was bundled towards goal by Danny Mullen but Clark saved easily. Ogleby and Reilly then had chances at either end with no success. Mullen and Ogleby then linked up well but the latter’s cross was just too close to Clark as McKenna loitered. The end-to-end stuff continued and Queens made their next chance count on 56 minutes when Russell, as he tends to be against former clubs, was on hand to slam a fine low ball in to the net at the back post.
The Livi fans in attendance probably thought their chances of a run in the competition had ended with that second goal but the players had other ideas and were back in the game barely two minutes later as Mullen’s cross to the back post was nodded back across goal and Craig Sives was there to fire the ball into the corner and halve Livi’s deficit. The Lions then appealed for a penalty when Mark Durnan appeared to handle in the box but ref Craig Charleston was unmoved before McKenna came close with a low shot from Fordyce’s pass that trundled just wide.
Livi had all the momentum and found themselves back on level terms on 64 minutes as captain Burton O’Brien lifted a fine ball over the top for Mullen and he poked the ball under the advancing Clark to square the game. Sives then picked up Livi’s second booking for a pull on Reilly, with Paton’s resultant free kick flying over the bar. Livi then made their first two changes as Jordan White and Myles Hippolyte replaced Ogleby and Glen. Hippolyte was quickly involved and came close to giving Livi the lead with a header from close range which went just over the bar. There was soon a let-off for Livi as a Queens corner crashed back off the crossbar.
Durnan was then very fortunate to get away with a shocking off-the-ball barge on Mullen as Queens seemingly tried anything to prevent the game slipping away from them any further. Hippolyte then came close again with a chip which landed on the roof of the net. James Fowler then drove forward for Queens but his shot rolled wide as the 90 minutes ended 2-2 and extra time was needed.
Livi started extra time brightly and came close when White and McKenna combined well for the latter to fire in a shot which Clark did well to tip wide. Livi’s pressure finally tolled as they took the lead for the first time on 98 minutes as McKenna’s fine through ball found Hippolyte and he smashed the ball across goal into the corner of the net. Livi made their final change just before half time in extra time as David Robertson came on for his competitive debut in place of Mullen as Livi reached the turnaround 3-2 in front.
No sooner had the second half of extra time got underway than the game took another twist as Queens drew level when the ball broke loose at the edge of the box for Paton to fire into the net. That would be Paton’s last act as he went off injured to leave the home side, having used all their subs, down to ten men for the last 12 minutes. Just as penalties looked inevitable, Livi snatched a remarkable victory on 114 minutes O’Brien found Robertson and the supersub blasted the ball past Clark from close range to put the seal on an astonishing comeback and send Livi through to the second round draw.
Next up for Livi is their opening Scottish Communities League Cup tie away to Albion Rovers. The Wee Rovers were the giant-killing heroes of last season’s Scottish Cup, knocking out Motherwell before pushing Rangers all the way in the quarter-final, so the players know they will need to be at their best to book their place in round two.
Queen of the South: Clark, Kidd, Dowie, Durnan, Holt, Fowler, McShane (Dzierzawski 73), Carmichael, Paton, Russell (D.Smith 78), Reilly (Lyle 73)
Subs not used: Atkinson (GK), Hooper, Slattery, A.Smith
Livingston: Jamieson, Sives, Fordyce, Ky Jacobs, O'Brien, Ogleby (White 69), Gallagher, McKenna, Glen (Hippolyte 70), Mullen (Robertson 105), Rutherford
Subs not used: Grant (GK), Praprotnik, Beaumont, Burchill
Referee: Craig Charleston
Match report: Andrew Crawford