dmg media (UK)



JOEL NOUBLE and Nicky Devlin increased Livingston’s top-six chances and the already significant transfer interest in their services. David Martindale was content to embrace both scenarios as his team returned to winning ways. Indeed, the Livingston boss revealed he would be content convincing contacts down south to sign Devlin if they required any further persuasion. He’s hardly wishing to push the 29-year-old wing-back out the door but there’s a realism Devlin will be one of the summer departures along with defender Jack Fitzwater. Maverick forward Nouble could exit, too, despite the recent triggering of a contract extension until 2024. At least on all this evidence, there’s no concern about those players having commitment issues when out on the pitch. Livingston moved a point ahead of St Mirren and back into the top half on the back of star displays by Devlin and Nouble. So Martindale won’t have a problem advancing the cause of Devlin landing the best move possible for his personal circumstances. Martindale said: ‘There’s a good chance Nicky might not be here but I’d never question his character. ‘He’s given everything he’s got here from day one. He will leave a very good right-back. ‘Whoever gets Nicky will be lucky. I’ll probably put him into a couple of clubs down south if he’s got a chance to go there. ‘Nicky has kicked on massively and taken the responsibility of captain quite seamlessly.’ Nouble’s sixth goal of the season opened the scoring just after Keith Watson and Eamonn Brophy passed up good opportunities for County. The assist came from conventional left-back James Penrice playing in an advanced role on the right. He delivered a splendid deep cross, Nouble rose over Connor Randall to apply the subtle headed touch to wrong-foot Ross Laidlaw and loop into the far corner. It was the perfect answer to some criticism Martindale fielded from the main stand. He explained: ‘It was a great ball by Penners. He took a bad touch five minutes before it with his left foot when it should have been his right. It bobbled over him and someone shouted from the stand: “That’s what you get for playing a left-back on the right wing”. ‘Next one — bang — he’s put a ball in with his left for Joel at the back post. I turned round looking for the fan, telling him: “That was a left-back doing that!”’ Livingston kept County penned in and made it two goals in less than two minutes. Laidlaw clawed away Devlin’s first dig from the edge of the penalty box but County were slow in sensing the captain would enjoy another crack. Devlin had plenty opportunity to collect again and fire a powerful finish home. Simon Murray, one of four strikers Malky Mackay had on the field at the same time in the second half, claimed a messy reply after Brophy’s cross was deflected and Cristiano Montano inadvertently nudged towards his own goal. There was a lengthy VAR wait as the initial offside call was scrubbed and hope granted to the visitors. They couldn’t follow up, however, and Mackay claimed his side only had themselves to blame as they dropped to 11th place. The manager said: ‘We took a real sucker punch with two goals in a couple of minutes. Both were really disappointing. ‘For the first, we allowed a mismatch to happen at the back post, as we’ve got three defenders in there. ‘After that, we shouldn’t be allowing Devlin the second strike at goal. ‘We were masters of our own downfall at times.’