THIS richly entertaining encounter was a reminder that, for all the ruminations over league reconstruction and income redistribution, it ultimately is all about the game and whether clubs can put on a spectacle worthy of drawing supporters through the turnstiles.
Scorers: Livingston: Russell (29) Barr (49); Raith Rovers: Graham (34)
Both these sides certainly did their utmost to do just that by being committed to passing the ball around in a constructive fashion and having an uninhibited go at one another. In the end, the three points gathered by Livingston maintained their interest in the First Division promotion race.
In an opening 45 minutes when there was a plethora of decent efforts on goal, the hosts held the upper hand in terms of chances created, but with Raith having the deadly finishing skills of Brian Graham in their armoury, Andy McNeil in the home goal was probably the busier of the two goalkeepers.
There was something of a procession of scoring attempts by Livingston, with Stefan Scougall going the closest when his shot was deflected on to a post with David McGurn stranded. The incessant probing eventually paid off when Marc McNulty crossed for Iain Russell to divert the ball into the net from six yards.
Graham was a constant menace at the other end however and, having tested McNeil’s reflexes on a couple of occasions, he got the better of him to restore parity for the Fifers by crashing in a rebound after the Livingston keeper had twice blocked close-range shots following a corner. Minutes later the Fifers’ talisman rattled the crossbar with a blistering 30-yard drive.
The pace did not slacken after the interval. Defender Craig Barr drifted forward to restore Livingston’s advantage as he blasted the ball under the diving McGurn. If the amount of goalmouth action thereafter did not quite match the quality of the thrilling first half there was still ample intrigue as Raith sought to get on level terms again while the hosts settled into a more counter-attacking mode.
Livingston did well to smother the threat from Graham and it was Allan Walker who had the Kirkcaldy side’s best chance to notch another equaliser but he fluffed his shot. Substitute Jordan Morton proved a lively addition for the hosts but in the end Barr’s strike proved enough to get Livingston over the line.