23 April 2006

And Yesterday's Sports News

Whilst I was up in Elgin my heart also had a part of it left in Fife at East End Park. While out and about delivering I was tuned in to Radio Scotland to find out how the Livingston Lions were doing in their crucial, must-win game against Dunfermline.

The first problem was transport. As kick off time approached and the weekly sweep of team news was going on there was no team from Livingston, the team coach was caught in traffic jams getting over the Forth Road Bridge. Eventually at 2:45 the team coach turned up and John Robertson was able to give the radio commentators the news they were looking for. An unchanged squad from last week.

Roddy McKenzie;
David McNamee, Harald Pinxten, Greg Strong, David Mackay;
Richard Brittain, Colin Healy, Allan Walker, Wes Hoolahan;
Sam Morrow, Noel Whelan.

So there was a delay to the kick off to allow the lads to warm up properly and they came out on fire when the game finally got underway. The Pars' Glen Ross could only stop Wes Hoolahan by pulling on his shirt in the 9th minute and the resulting Richie Brittain penalty gave the traveling Livi support hope. However, the Pars fought back and eventually in the 38th minute forced McKenzie to bring down Mark Birchill in the box for an equalising penalty which Birchill himself put away.

1-1 was probably a fair reflection of the first half but I didn't want a fair reflection. Livingston came out strong at the start of the second half with half time substitute Steven Hislop scooping a shot over from 12 yards then Colin Healey curling one just wide from outside the box. However, his next effort from distance did find the back of the net and for the second time in the afternoon Livi fans including those of us in Elgin lived in hope again. There was now less than half an hour to go.

However, Dunfermline continued to turn the screws and in the 78th minute McKenzie blocked a shot from Taraschulski but Birchill pounced on the loose ball and planted it in the net. The hope wavered slightly but there was still time. Then in the 85th minute a Birchill shot appeared to be handled over the line by his teammate Noel Hunt, but after consulting the assistant referee the goal was given. Yet again in the last ten minutes Livingston's luck ran out. How many times this has happened this year I have lost count. Most spectacularly we once lost two goals to Hibs in that period and their largely silent fans started to chant easy, easy with only 2 minutes remaining.

Mathematically Livingston are not officially relegated yet. We are nine points behind both Falkirk and Dunfermline, they on 27 points us on 18 with 3 games remaining. However, our goal difference is 21 worse than Falkirk and 15 worse than Dunfermline so next year we'll be heading to St Johnstone, Hamilton, Ross County, Clyde, Airdre Utd, Dundee, Queen of the South, Gretna and A.N. Other following the playoffs.

On happier news Liverpool's win at Old Trafford in the FA Cup Semi-Final over Chelsea must really be adding to Jose Mourinho fears of drawing Liverpool in cup competition.

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