ANOTHER Hearts game and another complaint about contentious decisions. However, this time it was Livingston manager David Martindale aiming his ire at the officials, and their ‘arrogance’, after Liam Boyce’s goal decided a raucous encounter in favour of the visitors.

With his side chasing an equaliser and the clock ticking down, Livi substitute Bruce Anderson was flagged offside when through on goal. Having felt aggrieved twice during Wednesday’s defeat to Aberdeen at Pittodrie, it was too much for Martindale.

The apparent post-match comments of assistant referee Frank Connor did nothing to calm the Lions boss, who claimed officials’ mistakes could even cost him his job.

“Hearts got done by an offside goal on Thursday [against Celtic] and that’s all you read about in the papers,” said Martindale. “We got done by an offside goal on Wednesday and a harsh yellow card. I have now been done with Bruce Anderson clean through on goal and he has been flagged offside.

"Who is it that loses their job? It is not the officials, it is me. It is not good enough, end of.  When your striker is going through on goal in the 90th minute and they get it wrong you cannot defend that.

The Herald:

“I have told him [Connor] he is on by two yards and the linesman tells me that it is not his fault we got beat. I can see his point but that decision did play a part in the defeat. If he had said he would look back at it and say sorry if he got it wrong then that would be fine. But don’t be arrogant to me.”

In truth, the deciding factor in Livingston’s loss was Craig Gordon. The Scotland goalkeeper produced a sensational fingertip save to deny Jason Holt in the first-half and was a calming presence that was required at times by Hearts on an afternoon when they could have been sunk by half-time.

“We did deserve to take something from the game,” added Martindale. “Craig Gordon makes a triple save in the first-half and those also changed the game for us."

The first-half was entirely dominated by Livingston, who denied Hearts time and space, and were energetic and inventive in possession. Midway through the half, they were left scratching their heads wondering how they were not ahead. 

The excellent Jack McMillan slipped a pass into the path of the marauding Andrew Shinnie but he his shot right at Gordon. Livi were relentless, however, and Craig Sibbald was denied by the upright from the follow-up.  Again, the home side were first to the rebound but, when Jason Holt then drilled in from 25 yards out, Gordon pulled off a stunning save to his top right to tip the ball onto the post and away before gathering the resulting effort from Shinnie.

The evergreen 38-year-old has been in sensational form of late and he celebrated the twin saves as if Hearts had scored a goal at the other end.

The Herald:

Neilson had seen enough and, having already had to replace the injured Michael Smith, hauled off the ineffectual Ben Woodburn in favour of the more defensive presence of Peter Haring in a midfield being swamped by the men in black. It was a bold move that paid off in the second-half.

The half-time whistled elicited jeers from the Hearts supporters but just three minutes after the break they were replaced by cheers. John Souttar stepped out from defence and picked out Barrie McKay, who in turn slipped a magnificent first-time pass into the path of Boyce. He was clinical with his finish.

His team-mates were less so as time dragged on. Aaron McEneff and substitute Armand Gnanduillet should have put the match beyond doubt, but in the end the Jambos required just Boyce’s 11th goal of the season to register a first away victory since August.

“I thought both goalkeepers today had some really good saves,” said Neilson. “It was two teams that were trying to win the game, which was good to see, which at times means you are open at the back. Craig pulled off some top-class saves, but that's par for him.

The Herald:

“We had a couple of chances to put it to bed and didn't manage to do it, and at 1-0 it was a wee bit edgy towards the end of the game. To see out a 1-0 was great."