Date: Sunday July 13, 2014 – 1pm
Venue: Ainslie Park, Edinburgh
As someone that likes a bit of variety in my football, there is something odd about travelling to the same venue two days running.
Such is the nature of the Ronnie Swan tournament hosted by Spartans, which in its four team format gives each competing side two games over the weekend.
Heading into Edinburgh, the weather was a million times better than it was the day before, and I started to wonder whether venturing out with any sun protection on was a good idea given my susceptibility to burn.
Livingston’s disappointing defeat to Dunfermline meant that they were consigned to this third placed match against Falkirk. The two clubs will meet again in the Scottish Championship this season, but with the Bairns’ first team in action in the south of England, it was left to their kids to fly the flag at Ainslie Park.
An old friend was in the dugout for the Bairns, Graeme Robertson, who worked wonders for the Livingston youth system for a few seasons in the mid-Noughties, helping to bring through top players like Robert Snodgrass, Graham Dorrans, Murray Davidson and Leigh Griffiths.
Graeme moved on from Livi to Stenhousemuir initially, but is now part of a wider youth development initiative across the Forth Valley, which is supposed to concentrate talent in one system rather than several.
I take a keen interest in youth development and I will be interested to see how the model develops (a similar structure is also in place in Fife) – particularly to see whether the smaller clubs in each area are given a fair crack of the whip in terms of getting players through for their first teams.
I noticed on Saturday that some of the kids in the Falkirk side pitched up in Forth Valley tracksuits rather than Falkirk FC ones, so whether the side that took to the field against Livingston was a bona fide Falkirk one I cannot be sure.
What was certain was that they were in for a tough shift against the Livingston first team squad. It was quite literally a case of men against boys.
Rationing my exposure to the sun, I watched the entire game from the clubhouse balcony, which offers a decent, elevated end view of the action and the bonus of a food kiosk and a licensed bar, although my half time pint of cooking lager (Tennents) had to be consumed inside.
I was joined up there by Fin, Gordon and Donald, guys who like me like to watch a lot of football and who I run into regularly as we take in games throughout the season. Given the recent addition to my family, it came as no surprise to learn that I was lagging well behind in terms of games watched!
The game turned out to be a bit of a non-event, purely because Falkirk were unable to properly match a Livingston side that should have scored more than three goals they managed over the afternoon.
They dominated from the word go, and although Falkirk had the occasional bright moment, the outcome of the game was never really in doubt.
Looking on it from a partisan point of view, it was good to see my team create more chances than they did against either Forfar or Dunfermline. The woodwork was struck three times in addition to the goals and on another day the scoreline might have been quite a bit more emphatic.
Michael McKenna got his first goal in Livi colours following his recent transfer from junior side Musselburgh Athletic which was good to see. At this stage I don’t expect to see him playing every week in the Championship, but he looks like a decent squad player.
The other two goals were contributed by Danny Mullen, one of the few homegrown young players not sold on or freed by the club last season. Danny suffers from being small in stature, which poses a physical challenge at first team level, but he came on with barely half an hour left in this one, put himself about and took his goals well.
There’s going to be a fair amount of competition for a first team place up front for Livi this season, and for a lad his age Danny is almost at the make or break stage. I very much hope he is able to claim a starting spot on a regular basis.
If there was a down side, it came with new signing David Robertson hobbling off early on. With a few other experienced first team players watching the game from the sidelines due to injury, I’ve got my fingers crossed that it won’t develop into a full blown ‘crisis’ before the real action gets underway at the end of the month.
As for the opposition, Falkirk tried to play passing football, and they looked neat and tidy. Some of their players looked very young indeed, and I am sure that those ones in particular will have learned from their pair of weekend defeats to much more experienced opposition.
Scoring: 1-0 Michael McKenna (43), 2-0 Danny Mullen (70), 3-0 Danny Mullen (80)
Attendance: 150 (estimate)
Match Report Links