Livingston survived a late scare to secure a win against Nottingham Forest in a hotly contested blind football match at St Montfort School.
Referee Thokozani Kanyong’o oversaw the pre-match warm up and ensured that the players, wearing kits kindly donated by their respective clubs, were given blindfolds to eliminate any advantage that they may have had from being partially sighted.
The game kicked off to roars from a large crowd of school children who had come out to support their classmates. The noise quickly died down as the match got underway, with the spectators aware that the players needed to hear the sound of the bell inside the football as well as the shouts of their teammates.
The first half was a hard fought affair, with both teams closing down the ball quickly and not allowing each other the time or space needed to create chances. It was therefore not surprising that it took a scrappy goal to break the deadlock – a partially cleared Livingston corner was hit back into the penalty area and bounced off a number of players before being poked past the Forest goalkeeper. He was understandably fuming at his defence and did well to keep out another shot to ensure that the score was only 1-0 at half time.
The change of ends brought a change of approach, with Forest committing more players forward in search of an equaliser. Livingston ruthlessly exploited the space left behind the defence, scoring with a well placed shot from the edge of the area and then bundling in a third goal a few minutes later.
The game seemed to be petering out, when Forest pulled a goal back in somewhat fortuitous fashion. A cross into the box was spilled by the Livi keeper and although the ball was cleared by the defence it was adjudged to have already crossed the line by referee Kanyong’o. The Livingston players graciously accepted the decision and with no VAR the crowd had to do so as well.
There was nothing lucky about the second Forest goal. The ball broke into space on the right of the Livingston area and was controlled and smashed into the net with a strike which would have made Brennan Johnson proud.
With the score at 3-2 the excitement around the pitch was palpable, with the crowd anticipating a nervy last few minutes. However, Livi had other plans and didn’t waste any time in finishing the game off. They attacked straight from the restart, with their striker running clear of the defence and chipping the ball past the keeper to seal a 4-2 win. The final whistle was met with jubilant celebrations by the Livingston players.
As a consolation, the Nottingham Forest team then played against a team made up of Sight 2020 volunteers and St Montfort headmaster Mr Kaleso. Despite playing their second game in quick succession on a hot afternoon, they handed out a 5-0 thrashing, much to the delight of the partisan crowd.
Sight 2020 would like to thank Nottingham Forest and Livingston for their kind kit donation.