Last updated : 13 October 2004 By Pars Mad
The sign post for Livingston
Admit it...the last time you were at Almondvale, you had to nudge the person next to you to see if they were in fact dead or if they were simply sleeping! That may be a tad extreme but Liverpool v Newcastle this fixture certainly ain't!

Its probably true to say that I'd have been more entertained watching Dougie 'I do apologise' Vipond struggle his way through a Sportscene autocue than watching the last few Almondvale encounters between the Pars and the Livi Lions but thats why we follow the Pars, we take the rough with the smooth - although in all honesty there hasn't been too much smooth this season.

In a classic 'Master versus the Apprentice' battle, the under-pressure Davie Hay returns to his old club to face the equally under-pressure Allan Preston. With both sides coming off the back of a dissapointing start to the season - Livingston sitting one place above the Pars in ninth - the three points would, even at this early stage in the season, appear vital for both sides.

Despite holding a favourable record over Livingston - the Pars winning 17 of the 35 encounters between the teams, losing just six - aswell as enjoying a decent record at the Almondvale stadium - the Pars winning 5 in 17 fixtures, losing just four - the Pars have failed to win in seven trips to the concrete jungle, their last win coming in September 1999, drawing five of their last six fixtures at the Almondvale Stadium - Saturday's game has all the makings of a classic don't you think!

The Pars and Livingston played out two of the most mind-numbingly boring games in the SPL last season, with two Almondvale no-score draws on Saturday October the 4th and Saturday 27th of March respectively. The latter of the two fixtures proving all the more tedious than the former with Davie Hay's Livingston side packing - at times - ten men behind the ball in an attempt to thwart out the Pars attacking threat, the Pars coming closest to scoring through a long range Brewster free-kick which was well-saved by Roddy MacKenzie in the Livi goal.

The second encounter of the season between the sides, played on the 3rd of January, provided a somewhat more entertaining affair. With the Pars turning in a sluggish performance - possibly due to some severe New Year hangovers - Calderwood's side were relatively lucky to escape from the match with a 2-2 draw. In Aussie Andy McDermott's last match for the club, the Pars fell behind early on after a David McNamee opener after good play involving Lee Makel and Fernando Pasquinelli. The home side equalised shortly before half-time however, after recieving a belated Christmas present from Livingston defender Oscar Rubio, the Spaniard palming away a Barry Nicholson corner. Baz calmly tucking away the resulting penalty kick, sending MacKenzie the wrong way. The visitors regained the upperhand just after the hour mark when Lee Makel managed to get on the end of a David Fernandez through-ball to fire past Stillie. With the Pars desperately searching for an equaliser, the breakthrough came ten minutes before full time when Noel Hunt, of all people, out-jumped man mountain Marvin Andrews to nod the ball through to Stevie Crawford. Crawford, as so often in his Pars career, kept his composure to slide the ball past MacKenzie and into the net to earn the Pars a point.

With Noel Hunt and Ritchie Byrne looking likely to be the only definate absentees from the Pars squad going into Saturday's match, the Pars could see the return of Gary Mason to the side after missing the Hibs game through injury. Saturday's game may also see a starting place for, among others, Simon Donnelly and Derek Young, with both doing well after coming on as substitutes in the draw with Hibs, Donnelly salvaging the Pars a point with his late equaliser. The former, Derek Young, further staking his place for a starting place by scoring the only goal in the Pars Reserve team victory over Hearts on Tuesday (12th October).
However, with Davie Hay changing his starting eleven about as often as the Pars pick up three points, both players may have to settle for a place on the bench once again.

After yet another wrist-slitting week spent watching Berti's boys - a week in which was spent by myself in the same fashion as Barry Nicholson, although admittely I was waiting by the phone all week for The Samaritans to call me back, apparantely their Scottish branch has been busy this week... - it seems like a nice change to get back to the domestic 'fitba'.

Although if the truth be told, anyone that fancies a nice wee sleep on Saturday after grafting at work all week could well do alot worse than take a trip along to Almondvale this Saturday.