Friday, March 14, 2014

14 March 2004 - Livingston Lives The High Life

On 14 March 2004, Livingston FC tallied their third win of the season over Hibernian. Unlike the previous two, which were Scottish Premier League fixtures, this one came in a cup competition - the Scottish League Cup Final -- and gave Livingston their first major trophy.

It was an anticlimactic result for Hibernian, who had cleared the way to the trophy by beating perennial favorites Celtic (2-1 in the quarterfinals) and Rangers (4-3 on penalties in the semifinals, after drawing 1-1 through the end of extra time), who, between them, had won the previous seven Scottish Cups.

For their part, Livingston took a long and improbable road to the Final, playing all of their matches away from home. They entered the competition in the Second Round, where they easily handled Queen's Park FC (1-3), then advanced over Dundee United (0-1) thanks to a 19th-minute own goal from the hosts. In the quarterfinals, they required extra time to beat Aberdeen at Pittodrie, 2-3, before eliminating Dundee FC (0-1) in the semifinals with a 90th-minute penalty kick.

The Final was played at Glasgow's Hampden Park before a crowd of 45,500. Although Hibs created a number of chances by lobbing balls over the Livingston defense, they were repeatedly denied by keeper Roddy McKenzie and once by center back Marvin Andrews, who cleared a Garry O'Connor strike off the line. In the second half, Livingston took the lead with a 50th-minute goal from forward Derek Lilly, who struck from 12 yards out. With Hibs reeling, Livingston left back Jamie McAllister delivered the death blow two minutes later, curling his shot past Hibs keeper Daniel Andersson.

The trophy was Livingston's first piece of major silverware, and only their second ever trophy (the other being the 1974 Scottish Qualifying Cup when the club were known as Ferranti Thistle). Adding to the shock of their win was the fact that they accomplished it after having been placed in financial administration the previous month. Unfortunately, the win did not herald better times for the club, who were relegated in 2006. In the Summer of 2009, the club once again went into administration and were relegated to the Scottish fourth tier for the 2009-10 season.

Hibs and Livingston played two more times in the league that season, with Hibs winning at Livingston on 3 April, then Livingston winning 4-1 at Easter Road on the last day of the season.

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