Livingston extended their unbeaten start to the 2019/20 campaign, with a very convincing 4-1 victory over Premiership newcomers Ross County. The result equalled the Lions' longest unbeaten start to a season, making it eight games without defeat.
It was also Livi's first Premiership victory on the road since 25th August 2018, when they defeated St Mirren 2-0 in Paisley. Gary Holt celebrated a year in charge of the club earlier in the week, and Saturday's performance epitomised his reign as Lions boss with an emphatic victory, and not a rubber crumb in sight.
Both sides went into the match unbeaten in the league. Livingston had drawn both their matches, taking a point against both Motherwell and St Johnstone, while Ross County had beaten Hamilton 3-0 on the opening day and earned a well-deserved point at Tynecastle, with the Staggies coming away disappointed to not take all three from a poor Hearts side.
Livingston got off to a flyer, taking the lead inside three minutes. On his Premiership debut, defender Jon Guthrie headed home a Keaghan Jacobs free-kick to put the visitors in front.
Just 11 minutes later, the Lions doubled their advantage. County didn't deal with an Alan Lithgow long-throw, which allowed Marvin Bartley to lay-off the unmarked Steven Lawless. The winger found the bottom corner with his effort, netting his second league goal in three games.
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts when Lyndon Dykes made it 3-0 just before the half-hour mark. A Scott Robinson cross was poorly dealt with by the Staggies' defence, and the loose ball was picked up by Scott Pittman. The midfielder found Lyndon Dykes with a cut-back, and the Australian calmly slotted past Ross Laidlaw to put the game to bed inside 30 minutes.
Livingston continued their dominance, but Ross County pulled a goal back, against the run of play, just before half-time to give the home faithful some belief. Some neat link-up play between Billy McKay and Ross Stewart resulted in the latter finding the back of the net with a tidy finish past his namesake.
The goal gave County a boost going into half-time, and the break might've given them some time to compose and come out for the second half with the potential of a comeback on the cards. Instead, the opposite happened, as the result was put beyond doubt five minutes after the restart.
Livingston broke away on the counter-attack through Steven Lawless down the left-hand side. The winger picked out substitute Jack Stobbs who ghosted in at the back post. From about 15 yards out, the on-loan Sheffield Wednesday man met Lawless' cross with a delightful volley that flew into the top corner. It was a debut goal to remember, and an early contender for 'goal of the season'.
Proving the doubters wrong
The Lions will be delighted with the victory, which puts them third in the Premiership. There was much said about whether or not the West Lothian side would be able to cope with the loss of some key players, but they've answered those critics with a remarkable start to the season.
Gary Holt's men host St Mirren next weekend in what looks to be another winnable match as they look to make it nine unbeaten this season. They can't get carried away though and must maintain the same level of performance if they are to come out on top against Jim Goodwin's side
Ross County will be furious with the result after such a promising start to the season. The Highlanders face a difficult match at Pittodrie next weekend, as they look to bounce back against Aberdeen.
Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson will be hopeful that their sides' performance against Livingston was just a minor blip in what has been a very successful spell in charge as co-managers.