Livingston boss Gary Holt is adamant his side proved they are anything but “spineless” as he took a thinly-veiled swipe at pundit Michael Stewart.
The Lions played out a hard-fought 0-0 stalemate against Motherwell in their Premiership curtain-raiser in West Lothian and, but for a fine showing by visiting goalkeeper Mark Gillespie, could have claimed all three points.
Holt was delighted by the endeavour shown by his new-look Livi side – boasting four new signings – and has vowed they will not be “cannon fodder”, regardless of the departures of Craig Halkett, Declan Gallagher, Shaun Byrne, Ryan Hardie and Liam Kelly over the summer.
Holt appeared to be irked by former Scotland midfielder Stewart’s assertion in his national newspaper column that Livi are now “spineless” after “losing the foundation they were built on”.
He said: “I think we had the better chances and to get a clean sheet and a draw with players making their debuts for us – it shows we have a backbone because, apparently, we’re spineless.
“We’ve been labelled as cannon fodder but on Saturday we showed what we are.
“We’re not going to move away from that because we’re comfortable in our skin.
“We’re not going to play open, expansive football. We’re going to get in your face and win second balls but, if we get into the final third, we’ll also create chances.
“That’s why we train at high intensity every single day and why we pushed them so hard in pre-season and we don’t apologise for that.
“If we think we can just turn up and play football we’ll get a tonking. As it is, I’m delighted with how we played and, with a bit of luck, we could have won it.”
Gillespie made fine stops to deny Aymen Souda, Alan Lithgow, Scott Pittman and Nicky Devlin to ensure Motherwell escaped Almondvale with a share of the spoils.
And while Jake Carroll and Declan Gallagher had passable opportunities for the visitors, Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson accepts his charges did not reach the standards he expects.
Robinson said: “You need to deal with the physical side of the game when you play Livingston. They put every ball into your box, whether from a throw-in or set-play or anywhere else. We dealt with that and the second phase of play.
“But what we didn’t do is put our own stamp on the game. On the occasions we did, we created chances, but we didn’t do that often enough.
“We weren’t brave enough, like we have been in the Betfred Cup. We will be better than that.”