• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Livingston's new double act get tenure off to a flying start,

Once the blizzard had subsided and this part of West Lothian was bathed in glorious sunshine, John Collins must have felt like he was back in Monaco.

Of course, there's not the McArthur Glen outlet or the Livi Nitespot in the plush Principality but you can't have everything.

There was plenty of style and class on show, however, as the new managemet regime at Livingston enjoyed a spectacular start to their tenure against Raith Rovers. With Collins, the director of football, peering down from behind the glass of the directors' box, and John Hughes, the track-suited manager, orchestrating proceedings from the dug-out, their side responded to the promptings with considerable exuberance and roared to a commanding victory.

Collins, one of Scottish fitba's most cultured exponents in the modern era, had made his vision clear earlier in the week when he stated that he wanted Livingston to play the 'Barcelona way'. There was certainly potential for things to get, ahem, messy on a pitch that looked fairly heavy. Yet, despite the underfoot conditions, the Livingston players showed the kind of poise, control and invention that were all hallmarks of Collins' own playing style.

They got the ball down and they knocked it about with pace and purpose. There was one brief, simple episode in the opening period which perhaps illustrated what the footballing philosophy is all about. Ross Docherty, the teenage full-back, took possession in his own half and could easily have panicked as he became hemmed in near the touchline by two Raith players. A frantic hoof to safety may have been the predicted outcome but the 19-year-old stayed calm, looked around, engineered a bit of space for himself and knocked a pass back inside to a team-mate. It was hardly revolutionary stuff but it must have pleased Collins.

In the end, it was another 19-year-old, Marc McNulty, who earned most of the plaudits, and the match ball, as he plundered the second hat trick of his Livingston career.

McNulty, who was only five when Collins stroked home the equaliser for Scotland from the penalty spot in the opening game of the 1998 World Cup against Brazil, is clearly relishing the chance to work with the coaches.

"My dad is a huge Celtic fan and so am I so I'd heard a lot about them," said McNulty of the two former Parkhead favourites. "They've come in and you can tell straight away what their philosophy is. It's pass and move and that suits us. Livingston were quite a well-known club for getting put down the leagues but this has now opened people's eyes to us again. They want to make everyone better players. They both have massive amounts of experience and it's been great in training. I don't think there can be two better guys in the game that I could learn from."

One up at half-time, thanks to Kyle Jacobs' opener, McNulty took centre stage in the second period and angled in his first just two minutes after the break. He finished off an expansive, flowing move, which began from a snuffed out Raith attack, just before the hour and then completed his hat trick from the penalty spot, after he was brought down by Iain Davidson, who was promptly sent off.

A bubbly Hughes, clearly revelling being back in the cut-and-thrust of management after a 14-month sabbatical, suggested that the style of play will lead to moments where his side are "flying by the seat of our pants". If Saturday is anything to go by, it promises to be quite a ride.

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

83994