The 4th Official
·11 February 2022
The 4th Official
·11 February 2022
Now that the dust has settled, and the rumours and registrations have died down over a week on from the window closing, it’s time to look back at Livingston’s business in the winter.
The summer saw a huge turnover at the club, but David Martindale was still active in January as he attempted to strengthen his squad with five incomings and six outgoings in West Lothian!
End of Loan
Sometimes loan deals just don’t work out, and this was the case for Livingston and Ben Williamson. The Rangers midfielder impressed manager David Martindale whilst on loan at Arbroath last season, and the Lions boss was more than happy to snap him up in the summer.
The Scotland U21 international was deployed in the middle of the park and used frequently in the early part of the season, however, it would soon become apparent that the top flight maybe came a step too soon for the youngster at this stage in his career. He showed plenty of promise in a couple of performances, most notably against Celtic in a memorable 1-0 victory, but the midfielder managed just 7 appearances in the end for The Lions – his last culminating in a red card for a poor tackle on Dundee United’s Declan Glass.
With more games and experience, Williamson could go on to become a talented midfielder, but, as mentioned, his move to Livingston and the Premiership maybe came just a little too early. The Gers youngster is now with Raith Rovers in the Championship until the end of the season.
Loan to Arbroath
Livingston moved quickly with this one as Jack Hamilton was loaned to Arbroath until the end of the season to replace the man Livingston recalled. It’s the striker’s second spell with the Championship side, and the youngster, like his team, is absolutely flying. Game time at The Lions was few and far between for Hamilton, who has shown his ability in a number of first team matches, just not quite consistently.
The striker has impressed in several loan spells now with great goal returns at Berwick, Queen of the South, East Fife and Arbroath. Dick Campbell’s side sit an incredible four points clear of 2nd placed Kilmarnock as the part-time Angus club continue their staggering fairytale season. Hamilton has hit the ground running with five goals in five matches, the last being a winner in a huge victory over nearest challengers Kilmarnock. The deal is perfect at this stage for both parties.
Loan to Kelty Hearts
Clark spent the first half of the season with Arbroath, making 15 appearances. However, with game time limited, and largely as a substitute, the midfielder was recalled by Livingston and sent down to League Two table toppers Kelty Hearts where he is expected to feature more heavily.
The Lions have a good relationship with Arbroath so I imagine both parties agreed this was best for Harrison’s development. The 18 year old will now play and learn under former Scotland and Rangers midfielder Kevin Thomson at Kelty, who are ten points clear at the top of League Two.
Similarly to Ben Williamson, this one just didn’t work out for both club and player. The striker was used on only five occasions, all as a late substitute, so it’s difficult to judge him in the short time frame he was on the pitch for Livi – which equates to just one 90 minute game combined. The forward is now back with Aldershot Town, a team he scored 12 goals for in the National League last season.
Loan to Falkirk
Like Jack Hamilton, Kabia found first team minutes very limited in the first half of the season. Livingston’s big squad, in precaution to any Covid outbreaks, needed trimming in January and the youngster needed more matches under his belt quite simply. Falkirk presents a good opportunity for the winger, who showed last season, in flashes, that he’s a skilful and talented young footballer.
Kabia made the perfect start to life with The Bairns as he netted a brace on his debut in a 2-0 victory at East Fife, and also scored in their most recent match – a 3-0 victory at Alloa. He’ll be hoping to play a part in Falkirk’s late promotion push with Martin Rennie’s side two points behind 4th placed Queen’s Park.
Loan to Falkirk
The final January outgoing for Livingston saw Keaghan Jacobs join Jaze Kabia at Falkirk. Jacobs, a legend with The Lions, has struggled to find consistent game time this season largely down to injury setbacks. The Tony Macaroni Arena erupted when the midfielder returned from a near year and a half injury in August, but Jacobs has only managed three substitute appearances for David Martindale’s side this season.
The South African has already featured more for The Bairns than he did for Livi this term, with 62 and 85 minutes under his belt in his first two matches, as he looks to get back to his best and recover more steadily from injury.
Recalled from Loan
After lighting up the Championship with high flying Arbroath, Joel Nouble was recalled by The Lions in the January window with Jack Hamilton going the other way. Impressive performances saw the forward net four goals and provide four assists for Dick Campbell’s side as he was a large part of their success.
In contrast to Ben Williamson, this was just a loan move that worked absolutely perfectly for all three parties. Arbroath got a fantastic footballer, Nouble got to show Scottish football what he was all about, and Livingston now have a hungry forward who’s determined to show the form he was capable of in the second tier, in the top flight.
Permanent Transfer from Liverpool
Livingston have developed a good relationship with Liverpool over the last season, and David Martindale utilised his contacts down south to secure highly rated defender Morgan Boyes on a permanent deal. Boyes joins fellow Liverpool academy graduate Adam Lewis in West Lothian, and he’ll be optimistic about showcasing his talent in Scotland.
The Wales U21 international comes with great potential having been on the books at Liverpool and there is definitely an eye to the future with this signing. He’s only featured on two occasions so far for Livingston, coming on late to see out victories against Hibernian and Aberdeen, but has looked solid and steady. He’s one that will excite fans further down the line.
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 30: Caleb Chukwuemeka of Aston Villa is put under pressure by Harry Arter of Charlton Athletic during the Papa John’s EFL Trophy Group match between Charlton Athletic and Aston Villa U21 at The Valley on November 30, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Jacques Feeney/Getty Images)
The 4th Official uses images provided by the following image agency: Getty Images (https://www.gettyimages.de/) and Imago Images (https://www.imago-images.de/)
Loan from Aston Villa
Steven Gerrard and John McGinn gave glowing reports to David Martindale and Marvin Bartley at Livingston, who opted to take the forward on loan until the end of the season. Chukwuemeka was very highly rated with Villa, putting in dazzling performances in the Premier League 2, making ten goal contributions in the first half of the season.
The 20 year old hasn’t quite hit the ground running as he adapts to Scottish football and has had to learn quickly the demands of the Scottish top flight, and in particular Livingston’s high intensity football. There’s still time for the youngster to prove his worth though, with teammates and staff confident of his ability to improve.
Permanent Transfer from Rubin Kazan
Livingston announced the signing of relatively unknown Russian goalkeeper Ivan Konovalov in January as David Martindale strengthened his squad. Following the tragic news about Daniel Barden’s testicular cancer, the promising Norwich goalkeeper has been unable to play football as he battles bravely, so that left former junior goalkeeper Gary Maley waiting in the wings as an understudy in the event of a Max Stryjek injury.
The Livingston goalkeeper has been excellent this season and has nailed down that number one jersey with some stellar displays, but Konovalov’s arrival will benefit both the Pole and the Russian as they battle for the gloves. The new signing comes with a good pedigree but is yet to taste action as he awaits international clearance.
Loan from Norwich
Having spent the first half of the season at Porto B in an unsuccessful loan spell, Norwich City decided to recall Sebastian Soto and Livingston snapped up the forward on a deal until the end of the season. The American comes with a fantastic pedigree having featured in the Bundesliga with Hannover, and netting seven goals in twelve matches for Telstar in the Dutch second tier.
Soto has also been capped by the USA on two occasions. After impressing heavily at youth level, the 21 year old netted a brace as he came off the bench on 77 minutes on his senior debut against Panama. The American is yet to feature for Livingston, but he is one that looks a very, very exciting signing on paper.
Overall, it’s been a very good window for Livingston as they have added strength in depth, especially in the forward areas. Perhaps most importantly though, they’ve lost no major assets or key players, managing to keep hold of players linked away and those in fine form.
In particular, Alan Forrest, who decided to knock back a move to St Johnstone, has looked like a totally different player in the last couple of weeks as he’s put in scintillating performances. With the January window over, it will now be time for the club to think about extending the contracts of players like Forrest, who is out of contract at the end of the season, and tying down their key men for longer if possible.
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