Livingston 0-0 Heart of Midlothian
Saturday 26th October 2019, KO 15:00 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Tony Macaroni Arena
Hearts couldn’t find a way past a stubborn Livingston defence this afternoon in a 0-0 Premiership draw.
The Jambos dominated possession and saw the hosts go down to ten men in the second half after Aymen Souda received a straight red for a dangerous challenge on Christophe Berra, but couldn’t find the breakthrough.
Craig Levein made three changes from the side that drew with Rangers last week. Jamie Brandon replaced the concussed Aidy White, Andy Irving came in for Glenn Whelan who was rested with a tight hamstring, while Steven MacLean replaced Jake Mulraney.
The Jambos started brightly, winning a free kick 25-yards out only a minute in, after Sean Clare got beyond the last man but was bodychecked to the ground. Oliver Bozanic chipped in his delivery but the sizeable Livingston defence headed clear.
Uche Ikpeazu was his usual self, a constant thorn in the opposition’s side. After seven minutes he robbed Marvin Bartley of possession on the touchline before racing into the box, however his cutback couldn’t find a Hearts shirt, and Clare’s follow up shot was blocked.
Three minutes later Brandon sent a raking pass down the channel for Ikpeazu, who weaved his way to the edge of the box before shooting low but Matja Sarkic got down well to his left to save at his near post.
Ryo Meshino was next to try his luck, cutting in from the left and pulling the trigger from 18-yards but his powerful effort flew wide of Sarkic’s left-hand post.
The hosts got in on the action after 23 minutes with their biggest chance of the half. Scott Robinson got down the left to cross for the unmarked Steven Lawless, but his sidefoot shot was blocked by Joel Periera, who gathered at the second attempt.
Livi followed that up five minutes later when Souda took down a long ball before hitting a snapshot from outside the box that Periera did well to turn behind.
The deadlock should’ve been broken on the half-hour mark. Clare’s backheel sent Ikpeazu racing through on goal, but despite being one-on-one Sarkic managed to get a big hand to the striker’s low shot and turn the ball over the bar.
Ikpeazu had a penalty claim turned down after appearing to be wrestled to the ground inside the Livi box by Alan Lithgow, which kickstarted a series of robust challenges on the visitors, none of which went punished.
Three minutes into the restart, the hosts found themselves down to ten men. Pereira spilled a cross and Berra went to head the ball clear ahead of Robinson, but Souda came in from his blind side and wiped the skipper out. Though there were suggestions that the Livi man was attempting a bicycle kick, he had both feet off the ground when he clattered into Berra, leaving the referee with no choice but to send him off.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, it was Livingston who then threatened. Jack McMillan was played into space 20-yards out and his low effort had Pereira beaten, but Michael Smith raced across to clear off the line.
At the other end, Aaron Hickey showed Steven Lawless a clean pair of heels down the left before sending the ball into the box for Lithgow to get a touch and send across his own goalline, but the ball managed to spin across it and out the other end.
The Jambos registered a few more shots on goal through Hickey, Bozanic and Irving, with substitute Callumn Morrison getting into a good position but instead of cutting back to the unmarked Clare he saw his shot from inside the box blocked behind.
Fellow sub Aidan Keena hit a snapshot from the edge of the box, which Sarkic got his full body behind, before Clare fired wide and Hickey had a deflected effort plucked out of the air by the Livi ‘keeper on his line.
The last chance of the game would go to substitute Clevid Dikamona, who held the ball up with his back to goal and turned to shoot from 18-yards, but straight at Sarkic.
Livingston: Sarkic, Devlin (Lamie, 40'), Lithgow, McMillan (Tiffoney, 90'), Guthrie, Bartley, Jacobs, Robinson (Odoffin, 71'), Lawless, Crawford, Souda. Subs: Stewart, Sibbald, Lawson, Pittman.
Hearts: Pereira, Smith, Berra, Bozanic, Clare, MacLean (Morrison, 62'), Ikpeazu, Brandon (Dikamona, 62'), Irving, Hickey, Meshino (Keena, 66'). Subs: Doyle, Wighton, Damour, Logan.
Referee: Greg Aitken