Match ends, Livingston 2, Aberdeen 1.
Livingston moved level on points with Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership as they held off a second-half rally in a game that saw three penalties given for handball following VAR intervention.
The hosts led 2-0 at half-time through Jack Fitzwater’s low drive and a Sean Kelly spot-kick, with Aberdeen striker Bojan Miovski’s penalty saved by Shamal George.
Luis Lopes did pull one back from the spot after the break, but despite dominating the visitors couldn’t find an equaliser.
The win moves David Martindale’s side up from eighth to fourth, while Aberdeen stay third.
Martindale spoke about the importance of home form prior to kick-off, and his players raced out of the blocks.
Fitzwater opened the scoring after just six minutes when he lashed a shot through the grasp of Kelle Roos after the ball fell to his feet following a corner.
The hosts doubled their lead after VAR spotted a Connor Barron handball. Nick Walsh went to the monitor, duly pointed to the spot, and Kelly coolly slotted past Roos to hammer home Livingston’s advantage.
Aberdeen had been sloppy, but the second goal seemed to shake Jim Goodwin’s side into life. Miovski saw a header tipped over the bar by George, and the Livingston goalkeeper then got down quickly to save efforts from Jack MacKenzie and Ross McCrorie.
The visitors were presented with a golden chance to pull one back on the stroke of half-time, but were unable to take advantage.
Walsh pointed to the spot after Leighton Clarkson’s shot flicked Jason Holt’s hand, with VAR again alerting the referee to the infringement. But Miovski’s tame penalty effort was saved and the North Macedonian striker could only head the rebound straight at George.
Whatever Goodwin said at the break seemed to have an effect, as his side rallied and halved the deficit.
After a cross dropped on to Fitzwater’s arm, VAR intervened for the third time. And although George got a hand to Lopes’ penalty, the Livingston keeper couldn’t keep it out.
Aberdeen smelled blood and Lopes appeared to be a man possessed – he was at the heart of everything good for the visitors in attack, but spooned the best chance for an equaliser over the bar after getting in behind the Livingston defence.
Martindale’s men dug in and repelled attack after attack to secure a massive three points and continue Aberdeen’s woes on the road.
In the opening exchanges, Livingston looked threatening every time they went forward – they were first to every loose ball, and the quick feet of Dylan Bahamboula consistently created openings.
It allowed them to open up a two-goal lead, but from then on, Aberdeen dominated.
The visitors had 63% possession, 41 touches in the opposition box, and 25 shots at goal with 10 of those on target. However, for all that, they couldn’t find the all-important second goal.
Goodwin said before kick-off that he wasn’t particularly worried about his side’s away form – which now stands at three wins in 26 league games – but deep down he will know that results need to improve on the road.
For Livingston, tonight was yet another example of the resilience and grit that Martindale’s side possess. They defended their box as if their lives depended on it and continue to punch well above their weight.
Livingston manager David Martindale: “I thought [Shamal George] was fantastic, he came up with some top saves and kept us in the game.
“Aberdeen go up the road feeling it’s a bit unjust that they’ve not taken anything, but you’ve got to score goals to win games of football.”
Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin: “The first 20 minutes was unacceptable, but the second half was exceptional. We had more shots tonight than in our last four or five games, and that’s where you scratch your head.
“We have to get the balance right between being a good footballing side and then being a bit more solid defensively.”
Livingston travel to Tynecastle to face Hearts on Saturday (15:00 GMT), while Aberdeen host Dundee United that evening (18:00) before the Premiership goes on hiatus for the World Cup.
Player of the match
with an average of 8.11
Squad number1Player nameGeorge
Squad number19Player nameNouble
Squad number9Player nameAnderson
Squad number5Player nameFitzwater
Squad number29Player namePenrice
Squad number7Player nameBahamboula
Squad number15Player nameBoyes
Squad number2Player nameDevlin
Squad number8Player namePittman
Squad number6Player nameObileye
Squad number10Player nameEsmael Gonçalves
Squad number11Player nameCristian Montaño
Squad number22Player nameShinnie
Squad number33Player nameOméonga
Squad number18Player nameHolt
Squad number24Player nameKelly
Squad number11Player nameDuk
Squad number3Player nameMacKenzie
Squad number33Player nameKennedy
Squad number8Player nameBarron
Squad number20Player nameClarkson
Squad number99Player nameRamírez
Squad number22Player nameCoulson
Squad number10Player nameBesuijen
Squad number9Player nameMiovski
Squad number16Player nameRamadani
Squad number24Player nameRoos
Squad number25Player nameRichardson
Squad number4Player nameScales
Squad number5Player nameStewart
Squad number15Player nameWatkins
Squad number2Player nameMcCrorie
9Miovski11de Barros Lopes
Match ends, Livingston 2, Aberdeen 1.
Second Half ends, Livingston 2, Aberdeen 1.
Attempt blocked. Christian Ramírez (Aberdeen) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Duk (Aberdeen) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Liam Scales.
Foul by Vicente Besuijen (Aberdeen).
Esmaël Gonçalves (Livingston) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Matthew Kennedy (Aberdeen) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Joel Nouble (Livingston).
Attempt missed. Bojan Miovski (Aberdeen) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.
Substitution, Aberdeen. Marley Watkins replaces Jayden Richardson.
Shamal George (Livingston) is shown the yellow card.
Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Andrew Shinnie.
Liam Scales (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Esmaël Gonçalves (Livingston).
Foul by Jayden Richardson (Aberdeen).
James Penrice (Livingston) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Duk (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Christian Ramírez.
Substitution, Livingston. Morgan Boyes replaces Scott Pittman because of an injury.
Joel Nouble (Livingston) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
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