Livingston 0 Hibernian 2

Last updated : 16 January 2005 By Footymad Previewer
Garry O'Connor and Derek Riordan fired second-half goals as Hibs held on to third spot with a comfortable victory at Almondvale.

But Livingston should have been dead and buried by half-time after the Easter Road side laid siege to the home goal, and only a series of missed chances – with Stephen Fletcher the biggest culprit – kept Livingston in touch for as long as they were.

Fletcher started up front for Hibs with Derek Riordan dropping back to midfield, and it took just two minutes to get his first chance when a looping header almost eluded Colin Meldrum in the Livingston goal.

In the sixth minute Fletcher took advantage of a slip by Ryan Harding to latch on to a Gary Smith through ball, but his cross was poor and Gus Bahoken easily cleared.

Jason Dair shot wide for Livingston but it was all Hibs, and after 17 minutes Riordan played a neat reverse pass that slipped under Emmanuel Dorado to Garry O'Connor. He easily rounded Meldrum, but Harding was able to chase back and block his angled shot. After the resultant corner was half cleared, Stephen Glass lobbed the ball into the area but Fletcher mis-hit his shot while unmarked at the back post.

Burton O'Brien fired wide in the 26th minute after new boy Jamie Hand touched a free-kick to him in a rare Livi attack, but Hibs were soon back on the offensive and came so close to the opener. After a Glass free-kick was cleared, Antonio Murray lofted the ball back in the box where Fletcher's header had Meldrum beaten but not Stuart Lovell, who hooked the ball off the line.

Hibernian keeper Simon Brown hadn't had much to do, but he looked sharp as he touched an O'Brien drive around for a corner.

Referee Mike McCurry failed to reappear for the second half, fourth official David Somers taking over in the middle.

The opening goal finally came after 53 minutes. Steven Whittaker played a long ball through and O'Connor outpaced Dorado and coolly slipped the ball beyond Meldrum.

The goal spurred Livi into action and Jim Hamilton had a goal-bound header headed away by Gary Smith while Lovell had a low drive comfortably held by Brown on the hour mark.

But Hibs got a deserved second after 73 minutes with O'Connor again involved. He latched on to another long ball and although Meldrum parried his low, angled shot, Riordan was on hand to tap home to clinch it.