PARS 3 Livingston 1

A LACKLUSTRE Livingston were put to bed by a ruthless Pars side who got back to winning ways thanks to Fraser Aird and Kallum Higginbotham.

The two wingers were in fine form and put Livingston to the sword at East End Park with finishes ranging from the sublime to the shambolic.

Aird was given a starting place ahead of Declan McManus who dropped to the bench.

Alongside him on the bench was Joe Cardle, who is continuing to make his comeback from injury.

Higginbotham could well find his opener in future football gaff compilations as the Pars grabbed an early lead in bizarre fashion.

A calamity in the Livingston defence resulted in Neil Alexander driving his clearance in off Higginbotham and into the empty net on 2 minutes.

It was the perfect start for Allan Johnston and his men who drew 0-0 with Queen of the South last time out.

Livi were eager to level quickly and almost managed to do just that with Sean Murdoch having to make a flying save at the back post to deny Josh Mullin’s rasping effort.

While Higginbotham’s first goal wasn’t the finest you’ll ever see, Aird’s was a goal of the season contender.

Selling his marker for dead on the left flank, he drove forward unopposed before stepping onto his right foot and curling home into the top corner from 22 yards out leaving Alexander with no chance on 30 minutes.

His delight was clear to see as he raced to the subs bench to celebrate his first Pars goal since arriving in the summer.

Aird and Higginbotham then fashioned a goal between them for number three before half-time.

The Canadian found Higginbotham unmarked on the edge of the area who quickly shuffled his feet before driving a low effort past the former Rangers stopper on 37 minutes.

Johnston’s side were comfortable at the break holding a deserved lead, with his counterpart David Hopkin reshuffling his pack at half-time.

Athletic went in search for a fourth and Callum Smith, who signed an extension to his contract on Friday, fired over after good work from Nicky Clark.

Clark then tried his own luck but found the post with a curled strike from the edge of the box and then the fingertips of the Livi keeper from a deft header three minutes later.

Danny Mullen then had Livi’s best chance of the game after a pull back from Rafaele De Vita.

However, the English striker couldn’t get the ball out from under him from six yards out.

His strike partner Nikolay Todorov wasted a free header from a De Vita corner soon after, heading well over.

Mullen and Todorov would work a consolation goal on 87 minutes but it was too little too late.

Mullen finished on the turn inside the box from close range after a Todorov knock down as the Pars invited pressure on themselves.

It was a dampener on an otherwise stellar display, with the Pars moving up to second in the Championship table.

PARS: Murdoch, Williamson, Ashcroft, Morris, Talbot, Higginbotham, Wedderburn, Splaine, Aird (Cardle 80), Clark, Smith (Ryan 80).
Subs not used: Gill, Martin, McManus, Shiels, Mvoto
Goals: Higginbotham (2, 38), Aird (30)

Livingston: Alexander, Mullin (McMillan, 46), Lithgow, Halkett, Todorov, Longridge (De Vita 50), Byrne, Pittman, Penrice, Mullen, Carrick (Gallagher, 46)
Subs: Maley, Knox, Jacobs, Mackin
Goal: Mullen (87)
Booked: Gallagher, Penrice, Byrne.

Referee: Andrew Dallas
Attendance: 5,059