Livingston vs. Ayr United
Betfred Cup Group G
Tuesday 16th July 2019. Kick-off 7.45pm
Tonight (Tuesday), Ayr United travel to the Tony Macaroni Arena to take on Premiership side Livingston in Group G of the Betfred Cup.
After comfortably seeing off Lowland League opponents Berwick Rangers 7-0 on Saturday, a win in West Lothian could see United take a big step in the direction of qualification for the next round of the competition for a fourth consecutive year, with games against Falkirk and Stranraer at Somerset Park coming up. Gary Holt’s side, however, are sure to prove a much sterner test for the Honest Men, who could come up against two familiar faces among the Livi ranks.
Livingston opened up their Betfred Cup campaign at the Falkirk Stadium where a late Connor Sammon goal denied them all three points. Former Queen of the South striker Lyndon Dykes had given his new club the lead on his debut in the first-half. Livi went on take the bonus point with four successful spot kicks and two saves by their Montenegrin U21 goalkeeper Matija Sarkin, signed on loan from Aston Villa last month.
After consecutive promotions from League 1 and the Championship, Livingston comfortably retained their Premiership status last season, eventually finishing in ninth position despite an early managerial change seeing Gary Holt take over from Kenny Miller.
Tonight could see competitive debuts in amber for Robbie Crawford and Nicky Devlin, two players with over 350 appearances for the Honest Men between them. Robbie moved to Almondvale after a 10 year association with United this summer, while former club captain Devlin returns to Scotland after two seasons with Walsall.
Much of the Lions’ recent success has been built on the no-nonsense foundations of a back-three consisting of Craig Halkett, Declan Gallagher and Alan Lithgow, however, the summer has seen Halkett and Gallagher move on to Hearts and Motherwell respectively. French centre-back Cece Pepe, who started his career with Paris St Germain and Marseille before spells in Ukranian and Italian football, partnered another former Ayr player Alan Lithgow – now Livi club captain – in a two-man centre-back partnership on Saturday.
Team News: Craig Moore and Jamie Adams are out with injuries.
Ian says: “Of course we were delighted with the result on Saturday, scoring 7 goals is never easy. We are well aware that tougher tests will lie in wait but the team were excellent, played a lot of good football and scored some terrific goals. At the end of the day you can only beat the team in front of you. This is now a completely different challenge, against a very good Premiership side. They have good players and a good manager so we go in as underdogs but of course we will give it our best shot and look to get at them.”
Head to head:
Ayr United wins – 21
Draws – 13
Livingston wins – 18
The Honest Men have won each of the last five meetings between the sides, with four of those fixtures played during 2012.
Ayr and Livi were paired in Group G of the Betfred Cup in 2016, having swapped divisions the previous season. Championship Ayr ended up 2-0 winners on the night courtesy of Peter Murphy’s goal of the season strike from range and a second goal from substitute Craig McGuffie.
Team: Fleming, Devlin, Boyle, Meggatt, Murphy (McGuffie), Crawford, Docherty (Wardrope), Adams, Donald, Cairney, Thomas (O’Connell).
Referee – William Collum
Assistant Referee 1 – Graeme Stewart
Assistant Referee 2 – Andrew McWilliam
Adults – £12
Concessions – £6
(OAPs, students and under 21s)
Under 12s – Free
United fans will be seated in Section A1 of the Imperial Cars West Stand and should enter via turnstyles 1 & 2, which are to the south end of the Main Stand at the Tony Macaroni Arena. Tickets can be purchased at the Livingston ticket office.