Livingston FCBC got the final kicked off and a free kick in the first minute from McIlhone went straight through to Struan Cant to give him a early touch of the ball. A free kick for high feet against Nathan Gilmour gave Livingston another opportunity to get the ball forward.
Matt Crosbie took the set piece from 30 yards out on the right and he certainly caught it well when he forced Cant into a good one-handed stop at the far post. Livingston started the game brightly and their next chance came through Michael Shanks when he drove in on goal but he put his shot wide.
Merchiston’s first real chance came through a 25-yard free kick which was played in by Thomas Steedman but his effort was headed behind for a corner. The resulting corner was played in from the left by Andrew Towns but Livingston dealt with it comfortably as they headed clear.
The best chance of the game so far came on nine minutes in favour of the West Lothian side when Shanks picked up the ball on the left and powered down the touch line before cutting inside. His ball into the box was met by Leuan Ford and his shot was deflected into the path of Ben Stewart coming in at the far post but the Livingston man could not get the connection he required to knock the ball home.
Merchiston opened the scoring on 13 minutes after Cheshire saw his shot blocked and when it fell to Gilmour on the right side of the box he fired across goal finding the far corner, slightly against the run of play.
A great ball across the Merchiston box from Shanks was just begging for someone to knock it home but the ball went harmlessly over to the far side which was then cleared upfield. A free kick inside their own half was taken by McIIhone but it flew just over the bar.
It was a good competitive game and Livingston came forward again when a pot-shot from distance by Ford flew wildly over the bar. Then Cant in the Merchiston goal had to back pedal when he came for a Stewart long ball into the box then realised the ball was going further than he initially thought.
Both teams were being restricted to shots from distance and it was Merchiston’s Stewart who tried his luck from a fair way out, putting his shot well wide of the right hand post. Livingston’s Deryn Russell then showed great pace to chase back to clear a Merchiston long ball as Gilmour pressurised him all the way.
Merchiston had the last chance of the half on the stroke of half time when Ben Marshall picked up the ball and went on a powerful run through the heart of the midfield. Brushing aside the Livingston challenges he made his way into the box but his shot did not meet the quality of his run as it went harmlessly wide of the post.