Livingston avoid League Cup upset by beating Ayr at Almondvale

Livingston booked their place in the next round with a 2-0 win on Saturday.

Livingston avoid upset by beating Ayr in Viaplay Cup SNS Group

Livingston booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Viaplay Cup with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Ayr United.

The Scottish Premiership hosts avoided a potential banana skin, with goals in each half from Joel Nouble and Cristian Montano seeing off their Championship visitors.

Livingston, defeated 3-0 by Inverness in last season’s Scottish Cup, looked in no mood to allow lightning to strike twice against second-tier opposition.

It took them just 12 minutes to take the lead, with a second goal of the season for Nouble.

Jason Holt lifted a diagonal pass to the edge of the box, where Kurtis Guthrie won the aerial duel to flick the ball into the path of the overlapping Montano.

The wing-back burst to the by-line and his cutback was hammered into the net by the lurking Nouble.

It was just the start needed to settle any nerves as they dealt with the expectations of facing lower-league opponents.

Ayr, who defeated St Johnstone in an unbeaten group stage campaign, recovered quickly from going behind, however, and pushed forward in search of the equaliser.

Aiden McGeady, making his first start since joining in the summer, found space on the left side of the box in the 18th minute and cut back onto his right-hand side with enough room for a curling shot but Livi goalkeeper Shamal George held on.

The match was getting bogged down in a fierce midfield battle with few clear-cut opportunities at either end.

Stephen Kelly did have a chance with a set-piece in the 29th minute but his curling free-kick was saved by Ayr number one Robbie Mutch.

Kelly was also to the fore at the start of the second period as Livi sought a killer second.

In the 51st minute, Nouble could not quite find the room for a shot in a crowded box and laid the ball off to Kelly but the midfielder skied his effort over the bar from 18 yards.

Moments later, the former Rangers youngster threaded a superb pass through for the breaking Montano but Sean McGinty and George Stanger got back to crowd out the Livi man.

However, there was to be no stopping Montano in the 64th minute as the home side doubled their advantage.

The wing-back powered forward on the left side of the area to latch onto a through ball and when his initial shot was saved by Mutch, it rebound back off him and into the unguarded net.

Montano was denied a second with 14 minutes remaining when his low drive from a Bruce Anderson cutback was turned round the post by Mutch.

When Ayr substitute Fraser Bryden failed to get enough on a Logan Chalmers cross nine minutes from time, allowing George to smother from close range, the visitors’ hopes of staging a late comeback slipped away.

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