One the many things I love about football is its capacity to produce something unexpected, unusual or special.
This was a routine league game for my own club at the ground I’ve visited many times, but thanks to an exceptional goal from Livi midfielder Martin Scott, it’s one that I’ll be able to recall years down the line.
Better known as ‘Jimmy’, Scott is a player of average ability who rejoined the club in the summer, having started his career in the same Livingston youth team as future Scotland internationalists Robert Snodgrass and Graham Dorrans.
He moved on to Ross County – immortalising himself with them by scoring in their Scottish Cup semi final win over Celtic in 2010 – and Hibernian where a training ground bust up with team-mate Sean Welsh saw him make headlines for the wrong reasons.
That incident always seemed completely out of character to me. ‘Jimmy’ has always been a friendly, chatty type of lad in his two spells with Livingston. I had the pleasure of interviewing him for the Livi programme several times during my spell as editor.
His return to Almondvale in the summer came towards the end of pre-season and he’s been a regular fixture in the side, adding a physical aspect to our midfield that had been lacking.
Jimmy’s goal at the Recs was his fifth of the season and it’s unlikely to be bettered, either by him or any one else in our squad.
Whilst there have been some good goals scored throughout this campaign, none are in the same class as the 45-yard howitzer that beat Alloa keeper Craig McDowell.
Like Bryan Prunty’s brilliant overhead kick against us for Dumbarton last season, the Scott goal picked up media interest as soon as the LIVItv footage was made available online. STV showed it on their main evening news bulletin, and at the time of writing this piece, the Youtube clip of the goal above had been viewed more than a quarter of a million times.
The goal, nine minutes from time, sealed a deserved win for Livi, who played much of the second half with ten men. Simon Mensing was sent packing for denying recent Alloa signing Derek Riordan an obvious goalscoring opportunity.
That incident turned the afternoon sour for Mensing, who scored the opening Livi goal in the first half.
A comfortable 3-0 victory was later rounded off by Keaghan Jacobs’ late strike, and it is hard to argue with the final outcome.
Without a win in three, Livi were the better side throughout with Alloa conspicuously short of an attacking threat.
When I saw the Wasps against Cowdenbeath back on January 2, they were lucky to get away with a 1-0 defeat. I felt at that point that they looked like a team on the slide, after their excellent start to the campaign.
Paul Hartley has since departed their managerial position, and his successor – former Dundee boss Barry Smith – has a tough task to take the small part-time club any further up the Championship table. Indeed, on the evidence of the two games I’ve seen them play recently, their prime target will be to avoid dropping into the ninth place play-off position.
The Riordan signing draws parallels with Morton’s capture of his former Hibs team-mate Garry O’Connor. Riordan looks much fitter and more likely to produce the goods for the Wasps than O’Connor does at Cappielow, but he’s a pale shadow of the player who picked up Scotland caps in the early part of his career.
So that was the match – what about Recreation Park?
I like the Recs a lot. For one thing it offers supporters the choice of sitting or standing, and for this one I decided to stand to the side of the permanent ‘temporary’ stand which is provided for visiting supporters.
It’s virtually identical to the gazebo style structure at Hamilton, and the one that used to sit on the open fourth side at Falkirk when they were in the top division. Indeed, it’s not inconceivable that it’s the same one.
Until a few years back, a large terrace occupied that side, crowned with an enclosure at the top. So much land has been freed up by it’s removal that fastfood chain KFC have managed to build a drivethru restaurant with car park on the space, no doubt helping the Alloa finances along the way.
Elsewhere, the ground has been tidied up with a new perimeter wall and a small enclosure erected behind the goal in the home end. The 1990s main stand remains as was, while there’s been no change either to the narrow, terraced Railway End which was off limits for this game.
Recreation Park’s biggest attribute in my opinion, especially on a lovely clear, sunny day is the view north to the Ochil Hills, which topped with snow looked particularly picturesque on this occasion.
As pretty as the view is, the best sight of all for this game was the ball hitting the net for that special second goal though. Definitely one that will live long in the memory!
Alloa Athletic: McDowall, Doyle, Meggatt, Gordon, Lindsey, Simmons, Cawley, Caddis (Flannigan 55), Ferns, Holmes (Tiffoney 77), Caldwell (Riordan 56). Not used: Young, Creaney, Kirk, Bain
Livingston: Jamieson, Mampuya (Sives 85), Talbot, Mensing, Fordyce, Mevija, Scott, Ke Jacobs, O’Brien, Ky Jacobs (Docherty 58), Mullen (McNulty 78). Not used: Denholm, Wilkie, Praprotnik, Walker
Ref: Iain Brines
Scoring: 0-1 Mensing, 0-2 Scott, 0-3 Ke Jacobs
Attendance: 605 (official)
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