David Martindale had cautioned his Livingston side pre-match of the dangers of Championship opposition and they duly heeded the warning to ease their way into the quarter-finals of the Viaplay Cup.

Joel Nouble’s 12th-minute opener avoided the possibility of having to chase the tie against a stubborn Ayr United side that gave as good as they got throughout a full-blooded encounter that was a hard watch for much of the 90 minutes.

Cristian Montano scrambled in a 64th-minute second for the Lions to kill off Ayr’s lingering resistance, with Jack Bryden’s failure to take a gilt-edged opportunity for the visitors with nine minutes remaining dashing their hopes of a late grandstand finish.

Avoiding a banana skin

Livi only needed to cast their minds back to last season for evidence of what can happen against Championship visitors. On that occasion, Inverness Caley Thistle left Almondvale with a 3-0 victory in the Scottish Cup, but there was to be no repeat of that disappointment.

Elsewhere in the last-16 of this tournament, there were momentary scares for Rangers, Aberdeen and Ross County, to prove that top-flight sides can struggle against lower-league opponents.

“You only need to look at other games today to realise how difficult these games are,” said manager David Martindale.“You look at Morton at Ibrox or Airdrie against Ross County. I don’t think there’s a lot between the bottom six of the Premiership and the top six of the Championship.

“In any game of football you take result over performance, although you want both obviously. I went in at half-time and had a wee bit of a nibble at the players. I think they reacted in the second-half.”

Joel Nouble adds clinical touch

Livingston manager David Martindale had spoken in the build-up to this tie of the need for Nouble’s suitors to up the ante if they wanted to recruit the towering striker this month. Teams from England and abroad have made approaches for the 27-year-old this summer, but none have got anywhere near Livi’s asking price.

Capable on his day of terrorising opposition defences, one criticism could be Nouble’s lack of goals. Last season, he managed just seven in 36 appearances and in the previous campaign he failed to net in 18 outings after being recalled from a successful loan at Arbroath.

However, he displayed a predatory striker’s instinct to earn the Lions their early lead. Kurtis Guthrie made the crucial intervention when he flicked on a lofted Jason Holt pass at the edge of the box. That set the supporting Cristian Montano racing to the bye-line and his cutback was hammered into the net by the lurking Nouble.

Montano’s second in the second-half was scruffier than Livi’s first as he bundled in with the aid of at least one ricochet but it was a decisive moment in the tie.

Aiden McGeady rolls back years

Ayr were the perhaps slightly surprising next destination for McGeady in a career that at one point looked like it could be coming to an end due to a hamstring injury at Hibs that followed a knee issue. The role of technical manager was an extra incentive for the former Celtic and Republic of Ireland winger to end up at Somerset Park.

This was his first start for the Honest Men and he was a constant outlet for the visitors’ attack down the left side, with plenty indications he still has the energy and skill to make a telling impact in the Championship this season.

The 37-year-old engineered himself a glimpse at goal in the 18th minute with a trademark dip of the shoulder and cut back onto his right foot. However, his curling effort from just inside the left edge of the box was too straight to trouble Livi keeper Shamal George.

Early in the second-half, the red mist threatened to descend when he threw the ball at Luiyi de Lucas after being fouled by the Livi defender. But some of his touches and feints were a joy to watch and will surely come good in the league this season.

“It excites me the group of players that we’re trying to put together,” said Ayr manager Lee Bullen. “Aiden and Logan are X-factor players. When they’re fully up to speed and I get Jamie Murphy fit then there’s shoots of excitement I think. You can see Aiden is getting fitter and fitter every game. He’s probably two or three weeks away from getting a full 90 minutes.”