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Livingston 0 – 0 Hearts

Hearts extended their unbeaten run to 10 games in all competitions but Livingston proved once again to be a troublesome foe in a Scottish Premiership goalless draw at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

The match improved after a dull first half spoiled by the wind but, while the third-placed Jambos probably had more opportunities there was little between the sides and neither could get the breakthrough.

David Martindale’s side have taken five points from nine against the Tynecastle club this season and remain seven points behind in fourth place – with a game in hand – as they extended their undefeated run to six games in all competitions.

The encounter between third and fourth in the cinch Premiership had promised more.

Robbie Neilson, who was in the stand once again as he completed a two-match touchline ban, dipped into his squad to reshuffle.

Stephen Kingsley, Orestis Kiomourtzoglou, Nathaniel Atkinson, Stephen Humphrys and Yutaro Oda all came in, the latter for his first start since signing from Japanese outfit Vissel Kobe.

Robert Snodgrass, Barrie McKay and Josh Ginnelly dropped to the bench with no sign of James Hill and Michael Smith.

Livingston, who had Sean Kelly and Stephane Omeonga back in midfield for Jason Holt and Andrew Shinnie, had no fears.

However, only three minutes had passed when Jambos captain Lawrence Shankland – eligible to play despite being sent off in last week’s 3-0 Scottish Cup win over Hibernian – sent Oda racing towards the Livi goal but defender Jack Fitzwater ended the danger with a smart tackle.

Another Hearts break involving Humphrys and Cammy Devlin following a Livi corner saw the back-tracking Omeonga intervene, before Shankland headed a Kingsley corner over the crossbar.

Image:
Livingston’s Nicky Devlin stops Hearts’ Garang Kuol at the Tony Macaroni Arena

All the while the ball was spending a lot of time in the air and the game could not settle.

Just before the break a Shankland cross was missed by Oda just yards from goal and the Japan attacker was replaced by 18-year-old Australia international Garang Kuol, on loan from Newcastle, for the start of the second half.

Within minutes Kuol was set up by Humphrys but home goalkeeper Shamal George brilliantly saved his first shot from 12 yards and then foiled his second effort from the rebound.

At the other end in the 62nd minute, Livingston forward Steven Bradley latched on to a long clearance from defence and lobbed on-rushing Hearts goalkeeper Zander Clark but defender Kye Rowles rushed back to clear the ball off the line.

The game was heating up and a powerful drive from Humphrys was beaten away by George.

The huge travelling support roared for a penalty when Livingston captain Nicky Devlin challenged Kuol inside the box but referee Alan Muir was not interested, but he was keen to book Hearts substitute Jorge Grant – on for the injured Devlin in the first half – for simulation at the edge of the Livingston box.

Livi’s Morgan Boyes drew a fine save from Clark with a powerful drive from 20 yards but this was a game destined to be goalless.

What’s next?

Livingston are away to Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic in their next match on February 1, while Hearts host Rangers on the same night.

Both games kick-off at 7.45pm.


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Jake

Jacob Keiter is a husband, a writer, a journalist, a musician, and a business owner. His journey to becoming a writer was one that was paved with challenges, but ultimately led him to find his true calling. Jacob's early years were marked by a strong desire for creative expression. He was always drawn to music, and in his youth, he played in several bands, chasing the elusive promise of fame and success. However, despite his best efforts, Jacob struggled to find the recognition he craved. It wasn't until he hit a low point in his life that Jacob discovered his love for writing. He turned to writing as a form of therapy during a particularly difficult time, and found that it not only helped him to cope with his struggles, but also allowed him to express himself in a way that he had never been able to before. Jacob's writing skills quickly caught the attention of others, and he soon found himself working as a journalist for The Sun out of Hummelstown. From there, he went on to contribute to a variety of publications, including the American Bee Journal and Referee Magazine. Jacob's writing style is reflective of traditional journalism, but he also infuses his work with a unique voice that sets him apart from others in his field. Despite his success as a writer, Jacob also owns another business, JJ Auto & Home, which specializes in cleaning. Jacob's commitment to excellence is evident in all of his endeavors, whether it be in his writing or in his business ventures. Today, Jacob is the author of two books and continues to inspire others through his writing. His journey to becoming a writer serves as a reminder that sometimes our darkest moments can lead us to our greatest achievements.

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