Livingston win battle of the stand-in managers as David Martindale continues to prove his worth against surprisingly strong United team

“Can we play you every week?” would have been the loud refrain inside the Tony Macaroni stadium if times were different and fans were allowed in.

Livingston's Scott Pittman (R) makes it 1-0 during the Scottish Premiership match between Livingston and Dundee United, which finished 2-0 to the home side (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Well, maybe not. This is Livingston, after all. But you get the drift. Both of Livingston’s victories in the league this season have come against United, who seemed distracted by events off the pitch.

Despite nine members of their first-team squad being forced to self-isolate, United were able to field a strong starting XI, including two Scotland internationals up front. Nicky Clark was missing, which was undoubtedly a blow. Nevertheless, those with their interests at heart watching at home, including self-isolating manager Micky Mellon, were permitted to expect better than this. Academy coach Thomas Courts took the reins alongside Adam Asghar, son of the club’s sporting director Tony.

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United’s first shot on target came after 86 minutes when Shankland managed to execute an angled drive which goalkeeper Max Stryjek saved. The United forward cut a frustrated figure, so, too, fellow international strike partner Marc McNulty on his return to his first club.

This was a bruising, ugly but, for the home side at least, ultimately profitable encounter. Second-half goals from Scott Pittman and skipper Marvin Bartley saw the home side deservedly take all three points in the battle of the stand-in managers.

David Martindale, now officially auditioning for the post of Livingston manager following Gary Holt’s departure, is putting himself in a very strong position. This was Livingston’s second win in a row under his charge and on top of scoring six goals, they have yet to concede. He is often cast as the power behind the thrown in any case. There has been little evidence to debunk this theory in the last two outings. Livingston are back to being the Livingston we know and must admire.

“Results like that have got to help, surely?” Martindale said later. “I’ve said to the club that I would like the job and would be delighted to get it but if they see me staying in my current role I’m more than happy to do that.

“I want to do what’s right for the club, this club has been unbelievable for me so whatever the club decides I’ll go along with.”

Martindale will it down with chairman Robert Wilson and chief executive John Ward this week. “The next step is probably Robert and John approaching me and telling me where they are in the process, but I do know we’re not in any great rush,” he said. “We could probably keep it like this until Christmas if we’re still winning games of football. It saves another wage!”

The heat will remain on United for an alleged breach of Covid-19 regulations after it emerged the players and first-team coaching staff posed for a squad photograph at the end of last month. It is not known whether this was the source of a subsequent Covid-19 outbreak at the club.

“Combinations! C’mon, we need to do more!” bellowed Courts shortly after his side went 1-0 behind to a fine solo goal from Pittman. Courts has scant involvement with the first-team normally. United did not rally. In fact, they fell further behind when Bartley hooked in from close range following a corner.

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