Both sides finished with ten men as Dunfermline missed the chance to go top of the Irn-Bru First Division in an action-packed encounter.
Livingston 2 - 1 Dunfermline
Scorers: Livingston - Tena (65), Mullen (90); Dunfermline - Barrowman (pen 90)
The visitors were presented with the prime opportunity to put some daylight between themselves and Partick Thistle after the Firhill club’s game with Cowdenbeath had been postponed. Instead a confident and assured beginning quickly went sour when Callum Morris received an 18th-minute red card.
The defender was reckless as he lunged over the top and into Stefan Scougall after the pair had been racing for the ball on the edge of the penalty area. Referee John Beaton showed no hesitation in reaching for the red card.
“The decision was right.” Dunfermline boss Jim Jefferies said afterwards. “Callum Morris is a quick player. It’s one of his strengths. He was getting there first and we just thought he was going to sweep the ball away or put it in row Z. There was no need to make the challenge he did. He’s let his team-mates down but he’s a young lad and he’s been outstanding for us, and it showed because we really missed him when he went off.”
Following the decision the hosts immediately looked a greater attacking threat, with Liam Fox’s shot from the resultant free-kick coming back off the inside of the post. But, if that was a close-call, few could believe it when Livi failed to take the lead on 33 minutes.
Jordan McMillan’s stumble allowed Mark McNulty to nip in, shift the ball past the goalkeeper and smash his shot off the crossbar when it appeared easier to score. Scougall compounded the disbelief by volleying over from inside the six-yard box.
“We got our rewards for the amount of chances we created,” said Livingston head coach Gareth Evans. “The first half we should have been out of sight. The one player you want in that situation is Mark McNulty, he’s a terrific finisher. He’s in there cut up that he didn’t get at least two but we were patient and I’m delighted.”
In the end the first goal was worth the wait. Jesus Garcia Tena inadvertently started the sequence in his box, blocking a Craig Dargo shot.
From there Livingston went on the attack and, following a cross from the right, the ball broke to Tena 30 yards from goal. He took one touch then sent a powerful shot swerving into the bottom corner of the net.
Dunfermline penned their opponents in looking for a route back but, against the ten men, Livingston held firm. Victory was secured when Keaghan Jacobs was allowed to dance through the penalty area and find Mullen for a tap-in.
It wasn’t the end of the action, however, as substitute Ryan Wallace went down under the challenge of Craig Barr. The already booked Barr was given a straight red and Barrowman stepped up to hammer the penalty high into the net.