LIVINGSTON rounded off their fairytale season in fashion by incomes promotion to the Premiership with victory over Partick Thistle in the Premiership play-off ultimate.
A Keaghan Jacobs strike simply after the break was sufficient to offer David Hopkin’s males a well-known win and earn promotion again to the high flight for the first time in 12 years, prevailing by three objectives to at least one on combination.
They could have been the underdogs, however Livingston obtained precisely what they deserved from the tie and from their outstanding season. The identical must be stated sadly for Thistle, who had been merely not adequate over the two legs of the tie or all through a horribly disappointing marketing campaign.
What a distinction a 12 months makes. This time 12 months in the past, the Thistle gamers had been basking in the glory of a great marketing campaign that had seen them end in the high six. Those self same gamers are actually dealing with an unsure future as they withstand the realities of their slide into the Championship.
Managing director Ian Maxwell will now transfer on to tackle the chief govt position at the Scottish Soccer Affiliation and whether or not supervisor Alan Archibald stays in place stays to be seen. All of it had a feeling of an finish of an period at Firhill, however there have been no such worries for Livingston’s Lions who roared their approach into the Premiership.
Thistle supervisor Archibald shook issues up after the disappointment of Thursday’s first leg, making 4 adjustments to his beginning line-up. Chris Erskine and Christie Elliott shook off accidents to make the aspect, whereas Andy McCarthy got here into midfield and Blair Spittal got here in on the proper.
Livingston went with the similar aspect that did so effectively in the first-leg, however with solely 15 match our bodies to select from, David Hopkin had little room for maneuver in any case.
A lot has been product of the bodily method favoured by the Championship runners-up, and Thistle had clearly determined that they might meet fireplace with fireplace as they snapped into challenges early on, with Christie Elliott incomes a reserving after crossing the line with a shocker of a problem on Scott Robinson.
The match settled into a sample of assault versus defence quickly sufficient although as Livingston seemed to guard what they’d and Thistle had them penned in. For all their territorial dominance although, the solely factor that Neil Alexander needed to do in the opening half hour was bask in some early time-wasting, which he dutifully carried out at each alternative.
A run to the byline from Stevie Lawless created their greatest alternative, as his dinked cross was headed large by Erskine, however the residence aspect had been no less than passing the ball immeasurably higher than they’d throughout the week.
Livi’s greatest probabilities had been at all times more likely to come from set-pieces, and Craig Halkett served Thistle a reminder of that as he nodded over from a respectable space.
That they had two extra nice openings, as a nook prompted chaos in the Thistle field and the ball fell to Jordan Thompson on the penalty spot, however Kris Doolan of all folks made a important block. Shaun Byrne then robbed McCarthy in a respectable space, however he hesitated earlier than getting his shot away, permitting Adam Barton to repel his effort.
Thistle had a great likelihood of their very own simply earlier than the break as McCarthy slipped the ball into Spittal to advance on objective. With Erskine to his left in acres of house, the large man elected to shoot and Alexander was equal to the effort.
And so it got here right down to the ultimate 45 minutes of the season for Thistle to rescue their Premiership standing, however it took Livingston simply 35 seconds after the restart to nudge them nearer to the trapdoor.
Byrne took management of the ball on the fringe of the Thistle space along with his again to objective and laid it completely into the path of Keaghan Jacobs, who produced a well-placed low end past Cerny from 22 yards.
The South African simply loves enjoying towards Thistle, with all three of his objectives this season coming towards the Firhill aspect.
It was a gorgeous blow for the residence aspect and their supporters, and there was no signal of a direct response as they struggled to regain their composure.
They had been too ponderous of their construct as much as play to trigger any actual concern to the well-drilled Livi backline, with Alan Lithgow specifically immense at the coronary heart of the visiting defence.
Thistle boss Archibald went for it by leaving one man again primarily, however a Lawless shot straight at Alexander earlier than Spittal’s low effort resulted in the keeper’s arms too was nearly all they may muster.
Anyplace would do for Livingston, who justifiably had given up all ambition of attacking, with Thistle leaving solely Paul McGinn at the again.
Proper on the 90th minute, Thistle had been handed a late lifeline as Lithgow dealt with a shot from Conor Sammon, however the substitute couldn’t settle for the reprieve, along with his tame effort from the spot being simply saved by Alexander.
It put the tin lid on a depressing season for the Jags. That they had huffed and puffed, however they may not blow the Livingston wall down, leaving the underdogs to take pleasure in their completely satisfied ending.