Dundee were sure-footed enough to sidestep this potential banana skin and a partially frosted pitch with the minimum of fuss yesterday.
Scorers - Dundee: Milne 9, Conroy 17
It hasn’t been too often this season that Barry Smith’s men have enjoyed what could be termed a dream start to a game, but two strikes within the opening 20
minutes of this cup tie effectively banished any notions of an upset and allowed them to sit back and soak up what pressure a tidy but ineffectual Livingston side could throw at them for the remainder of the game.
No one could accuse Smith of opting to sacrifice the Scottish Cup in favour of the hard grind of SPL survival as he put out a strong side to see them through an encounter that on paper at least promised to be an awkward assignment.
Having taken this stance it was little wonder then that he was happy with the outcome.
“It was a good professional performance,” he insisted. “We set out to dominate early on, got the two goals and although they had a lot of possession after that they didn’t create too many chances”.
Dundee certainly looked keen to make the most of their brief sojourn away from the business of battling
relegation by going about their business in a lively manner.
Rewards were not slow in coming, with Smith’s men getting their noses in front when John Baird fed Steven Milne inside the Livingston box and the striker, whose career has undergone something of a
renaissance of late, was simply granted far too much space and time to pick a spot beyond the reach of Andy McNeil after only nine minutes.
The unwitting generosity of the home defence again came to the fore a short while later when Baird was brought down in the box by Liam Fox despite the striker having his back to goal.
Ryan Conroy calmly stuck away the penalty, sending McNeil the wrong way.
Some credit was due to Livingston for not succumbing to the threat of complete capitulation at this stage, indeed, they remained committed to constructing patient passing movements throughout this game.
Perhaps the tie might have taken on a different complexion if, shortly after the visitors’ second goal, they had succeeded with a decent shout for a penalty of their own when Fox’s venomous shot appeared to strike the arm of Dundee’s Iain Davidson before being scrambled clear. The home bench bawled at the match officials but the outcome was a verbal thick ear for the West Lothian side’s manager Gareth Evans from referee Crawford
Unsurprisingly, Evans was still nursing a strong sense of grievance after the full-time whistle. “It’s a stonewall penalty kick, he’s saved it on the line with his hand. It could have changed the game – we were in the ascendency for 75 minutes, we were the team that was passing the ball, all they were doing was banging it up front”.
While the hosts may have had cause for complaint over the incident, it has to be said that, like many others have found before, being careful with possession does not necessarily translate itself into being a potent threat to your opponents.
Rab Douglas in the Dundee goal did have to look sharp to turn away a Keaghan Jacobs shot half-way through the closing 45 minutes but that was about it from the hosts.
Dundee, meanwhile, seemed to positively luxuriate in being able to sit on a lead after the interval and were content to play well within themselves to see out the victory.
Jim McAlister nearly forced
Jesus Garcia Tena to turn the
ball into his own net as he sent in
a stinging drive and from the
following corner Kevin McBride’s shot was cleared only by a combination of legs
and bodies by the home defence.
There was little else to ward off the chill as the game shivered to a conclusion.
Livingston: McNeil, Kyle Jacobs, Barr, Garcia Tena, Booth, Andreu, Fox, O’Brien, Keaghan Jacobs, McNulty, Scougall. Subs: Jamieson, McCann, Morton, Fordyce, Mullen.
Dundee: Douglas, Irvine, Lockwood, Benedictus, Gallagher, McBride, Davidson, McAllister, Baird, Milne, Conroy. Subs: Baird, McGregor, Toshney, Boyle, Webster