SUDDENLY, Livingston can cast their eyes upwards.

Having played just four games since the beginning of December, the West Lothian side had tumbled down the first division table. Now they are making up for lost time.

This win only moves Gareth Evans' side up one place, ahead of vanquished visitors Raith Rovers into fourth, but results elsewhere have afforded that move greater meaning.

Loading article content

While still 12 points adrift of leaders Morton, Livingston are now just 10 behind second-placed Dunfermline Athletic with three games in hand, even if their coach refused to entertain such a hypothesis. "It's all very well having those games, but winning them is the hard part," said Evans. "We'll keep bumping along and see where it takes us."

Although just one goal ultimately separated these sides, Livingston were rarely in danger of spilling the points. As early as the 11th minute, when Stefan Scougall's deflected shot brushed an upright, Evans' side were in the ascendancy, even if a goal proved elusive.

Anthony Andreu and Liam Fox could curse goalkeeper David McGurn, but Mark McNulty only had himself to blame after heading Callum Booth's tempting delivery wide then turning another effort past the post after Kevin McCann volleyed into his path.

The promising young striker would redeem himself, though, by being integral to Livingston's opener. Jesus Garcia Tena's ball in to the left channel appeared overhit, but McNulty pursued it with vigour and flashed a delivery beyond the reach of McGurn and into the path of Iain Russell, who nudged over the goal line.

Raith would respond within minutes, with Brian Graham at the forefront. A 20th goal in just his 24th outing of the campaign hauled the Fife side level, the only surprise being that it took him so long to breach Andrew McNeil, for the goalkeeper spent much of the afternoon frustrating the striker.

The resistance would not last, though. Having thwarted Graham's initial effort from a David Smith corner, McNeil was helpless as the striker jabbed in at the second attempt, then could only gawp helplessly a couple of minutes later as Graham speared a shot from 30 yards over his head and against the crossbar.

Livingston, though, always seemed to have more about them and restored their advantage just after the interval. A remarkable exhibition of trickery down the left by centre-back Tena culminated in the cross that broke for fellow defender Barr to ram under McGurn and give Evans side a lead that, this time, they would not cede. "The second goal killed it for us. We lost our way after that," moaned Grant Murray, the Raith manager.