Championship form team Livingston hunting back-to-back promotions
Livingston face nearest challengers Dundee United on Friday night, with the second-placed Lions looking to extend their gap on the chasing pack to six points.
Having started last season in Ladbrokes League 1, it’s been a quite incredible journey for David Hopkin’s men.
And short of an almighty collapse, they’ve got a place in the Championship’s top-four this season – and a shot at returning to the top-flight for the first time since 2006.
So, what’s the secret to Livi’s continued success?
Hopkin’s found the ideal system
While some of their fellow promotion hopefuls have chopped and changed, Livi have been faithful to the 3-5-2 system this system – and it’s continually paid dividends.
The backbone of that system is a reliable defensive trio of Craig Halkett, Declan Gallagher and Alan Lithgow. Between them, the threesome have all the pace, class and physicality to scare off opposition strikers.
Add in the understanding and organisation they’ve built over the last 12 months, and it’s no coincidence they’ve conceded just four goals in their last seven games.
Further forward, their midfield five have crowded out opponents, with wide pair Chris Cadden and Rafa De Vita providing good service to a well-balanced front two.
Savvy additions helping Livi push on
While Livingston’s regular backline were all part of last season’s League 1 triumph, Hopkin has continued to add key performers in the Summer and January transfer windows.
And the 47-year-old has done just that without spending a penny in transfer fees.
Former Scotland international Neil Alexander has been terrific between the sticks since his summer move from Aberdeen. Meanwhile, former East Fife ace Scott Robinson has chalked up a number of crucial goals from midfield.
However, the best addition of all could prove to be Rangers loanee Ryan Hardie. He’s netted four goals in as many league outings since his January arrival. That included a brace in last week’s 4-1 tonking of table-topping St Mirren.
Team ethic driving them on
Fifteen different players have netted the Lions’ 40 league goals this term. That stat is testament to what a strong unit they have at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
The West Lothian outfit don’t have the big-name stars of a Dundee United, nor the crowds or resources of most of their promotion challengers. But they are a well-oiled machine. And when they’re on a winning run, they look unstoppable.
Livi have picked up 13 points from their last five games, with all four of those victories coming by a margin of two or more goals. And with this very much a team effort, they’re not relying on one star man to come up with the goods.
In the Match Betting, Livingston are 29/20 to win against Dundee United.
Meanwhile, Livi to win the Championship is a 10/1 shot. Victory on Friday would bring them within eight points of the Buddies.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing