Livingston 1 - 0 Kilmarnock: Chris Erskine strike consigns Killie to third straight defeat

This was a rough end to a particularly taxing week for Kilmarnock Football Club. The Ayrshire side slumped to their third defeat in the space of six days, falling out of the cup in the process, after being at the centre of Scottish football’s latest debate on sectarianism.
Livingston's Chris Erskine celebrates his opener with Craig Sibbald. Pic: SNS/Roddy ScottLivingston's Chris Erskine celebrates his opener with Craig Sibbald. Pic: SNS/Roddy Scott
Livingston's Chris Erskine celebrates his opener with Craig Sibbald. Pic: SNS/Roddy Scott

It felt like everyone had their say after Steve Clarke criticised the Rangers crowd for directing bigoted abuse his way, which occurred 72 hours after striker Kris Boyd came in for similar treatment from the Celtic fans at Rugby Park.

The away fans paid tribute with a banner hailing Clarke as their “leader”, while they also applauded the customary pre-match message from the Livingston PA that unacceptable conduct, including sectarianism, would not be tolerated inside the ground.

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“On a Saturday night I’d rather talk more about football rather than politics... or anything else,” said Clarke. “I’ve no complaints as a coach. If you look at that result, people will say, ‘ah, that’s Kilmarnock gone’. We haven’t gone, it’s just been a tough week. It’s a reminder that professional football is a tough game.”

Battered and bruised from their exertions on the pitch, Killie were forced into making seven changes from the side that lost at Ibrox. Missing from the starting XI were both full-backs, experienced midfielders and options in attack.

Livingston didn’t have their problems to seek themselves. With the absence of Dolly Menga and Lee Miller, and Ryan Hardie only fit enough for a place on the bench, where he stayed for the full 90 minutes, midfielder Chris Erskine started the match up front. It wasn’t ideal for a side who hadn’t won in nine games, a run which saw them score only three goals. But you can succumb to fatalism or you can make the most of the hand you’re dealt, which the home side certainly did as Erskine grabbed the game’s only goal and led the line superbly in his unorthodox role.

Killie might have taken all three points had they received a little more luck from the chances they did create. The visitors hit the crossbar three times in the afternoon, the first of which came when Boyd got on the end of a cross from deputy left-back Callum Waters.

At the end of a first half largely lacking in quality Livingston managed to take the lead.

Alan Lithgow’s long throw wasn’t properly cleared, and when Steven Lawless managed to flick on to Erskine, the former Partick Thistle midfielder showed great striker’s instincts to use his body to lean into Scott Boyd, before turning and dispatching the ball beyond Daniel Bachmann.

Brophy cracked the crossbar within minutes of the restart before Scott Pittman had a couple of opportunities to double the home side’s advantage.

The final and best chance of the day for Clarke’s side came when Rory McKenzie followed up Liam Kelly’s save of Brophy’s free-kick. The midfielder went for power and saw his rising strike come back into play after hitting the bar yet again.