A solitary predator’s finish from new Livingston player- manager Kenny Miller was enough to earn all three points and put the West Lothian club top of Betfred Cup Group F.
League Two Annan Athletic, who had already shocked Premiership opposition in the shape of Hamilton Accies in the opening round of fixtures, put up a tenacious showing and the much travelled former Scotland striker will be glad just to have navigated his charges around this potential banana skin.
Played at Linlithgow Rose’s trim Prestonfield ground whilst the finishing touches are still being applied to the new synthetic surface being laid at Livingston’s Tony Macaroni Arena, the atmosphere might have carried a hint of a pre-season friendly but this was a fiercely contested affair. Annan gave as good as they got and harried around the park with fulsome commitment. As the challenges flew in the hosts certainly knew they were in a game and although they dominated in terms of possession and chances they found it hard to wholly impose themselves on the contest.
Miller’s goal arrived after 14 minutes and was created by another close-season addition, Craig Sibbald, who showed plenty of the deft touches which initially brought him to prominence at Falkirk. He sent a finely-weighted through ball into the path of the veteran striker who stuck it away in customary clinical fashion.
Although Jack Hamilton had the ball in the net for Livi a few minutes later only for it to be ruled out for offside they struggled to create many clear-cut openings in a tetchy opening 45 minutes. After the interval they started to stretch the Annan defence to greater effect and were twice denied by efforts rebounding off the post from Millar and Hamilton. Scott Robinson was also unfortunate to see a close-range shot kicked off the line.
With the game entering its closing stages and Livingston unable to extend their lead there was a lingering possibility that the visitors might somehow snatch an equaliser but although they ventured forward more readily they never seriously troubled Liam Kelly’s goal. The sending off of the hosts’ Rickie Lamie for a reckless challenge on Ross Ferguson came too late on for the Dumfriesshire side to be able to try to capitalise and Livingston were happy to close out the game for a narrow victory.