Livingston 1 Ross County 0: Holt’s happy but irate Kettlewell sees red

Jon Guthrie header lifts Livi off the foot of the Premiership

Flashpoint: Livingston’s Jon Guthrie gets above Ross Stewart to nod home the winner, the incident that sparked fury from County boss Stuart Kettlewell, earning him a red card. Photograph: Rob Casey: SNS

While Livingston boss Gary Holt was delighted to see his men get their first win of the season to move themselves off the foot of the table, his Ross County counterpart Stuart Kettlewell only succeeded in earning himself a red card.

The Highland boss will have some regrets about the way his team performed but he was unrepentant about his own behaviour after the final whistle, stating that “when someone treats you like a second-class citizen, I won’t be having that”.

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He was irked by the decision of referee John Beaton not to intervene when, as he saw it, Livingston defender Jon Guthrie used Ross Stewart as leverage as he jumped above the away defence to nod a header down past Ross Laidlaw and into the net.

It was to prove the only goal of an ugly game and it was a goal that the home side deserved, given their greater possession and pressing, which made life tough for County, especially when they were reduced to ten men in the 51st minute.

The travelling ranks did not vehemently dispute that decision, Carl Tremarco shown his second yellow card for hauling down Nicky Devlin.

“I can’t complain about the sending off but I can about the goal,” said the clearly-annoyed Kettlewell. “At our second corner [early in the game] Guthrie and Stewart are involved and there is a foul given for a carbon copy of the situation [that arises at the goal]. But then he doesn’t give a foul for their goal which frustrates me.

“You speak about levels of consistency and how you address or speak to someone. I have got myself involved with the referee at the end there but I am not having someone speak to me with such arrogance. He sent me off because I lost my cool but I approach people in the right manner and when someone treats you like a second-class citizen then I won’t be having that.

“When I go and ask the referee about the scenario and he tells you, ‘away you go, you’re clutching at straws’ then that becomes a wee bit of an annoyance to me. What I won’t do, is accept somebody coming back to me like that. I’ve got a valid point and if they look back at the video they’ll see there’s a valid point.

“Ultimately, that’s what the game hinges on.”

In a game where the ball was leathered from one end to the other as aesthetics took a backseat, chances were limited.

The pre-match interest was in whether Anthony Stokes would get some game time. He didn’t. The Irishman, still shy of fitness, wasn’t even on the bench but the other new striker, German Lars Lokotsch, did start. Given his height and physical presence, the temptation was to hoof the ball up to him but Livingston were struggling to break their guests down that way.

They did have a superb chance in the seventh minute when Devlin got down the right and flashed in a cross for Scott Pittman but, presented with a gaping goal, he contrived to miss the target. They came close again in the 42nd minute when Lokotsch headed off the bar.

County responded with a decent cross from Tremarco which was headed back across goal for Billy Mckay but he headed over.

A more cohesive Livingston looked to be setting a better tempo at the start of the second half and they were handed the advantage when Tremarco walked and, having taken a 64th minute lead, they were able to hang on.

“I’ve talked openly this week with the players, telling them we wanted an ugly, 1-0 win. And we got that,” said Holt. “With the chances we created we should have scored more but I got my win.”

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