Two second-half goals from Jon Guthrie and Josh Mullin sustained Livingston's climb up the table and kept up David Martindale's winning streak.

Martindale, in his first outing as permanent manager for Livingston, made it five successive wins with this lopsided victory over a Covid decimated Hamilton team arguably the most emphatic of all.

It is also the first time that Livingston have won back-to-back away games in the top flight since October 2003. The win takes them within touching distance of the top six and steers them away from the relegation area.

The visitors ought to have been ahead long before Guthrie converted Jason Holt's cross at the back post seven minutes after the break after creating a glut of first-half chances. As it was, they took until the final minute of regulation time before Josh Mullin's arched free-kick gave them a second but there was never any suggestion that Hamilton, who failed to register a single shot on target, could have forced their way back into the game.

Alan Forrest had watched a curling effort go just wide of the post as Livingston looked to put the game to bed while Guthrie had missed when he ought to have scored in the opening period. Scott Robinson, too, would have claimed a hat-trick on another night with one effort coming off the woodwork and another opportunity when he headed across the face of goal rather than into the net.

"We missed a few chances, some chances that can come back to haunt you," reflected Martindale. "But we nullified the opposition and dominated a lot of the ball. We’ve had a good run and the boys are in a good place. Winning makes the next game easier. Momentum is massive.

"Look at the league and it’s really tight. A draw and a defeat and you could be bottom three. There’s a lot of room at the top but fifth and sixth has to be our objectives. We want to stay in the league but with some luck you just don’t know what can happen."

His opposite number was considerably more downbeat. Brian Rice lamented the loss of a trio of key players ahead of the club's limp performance with the news wrecking his preparations before the game.

Rice was given the news late on Tuesday evening that an unnamed played had tested positive for the virus but was asymptomatic. It also meant he was denied the services of his weekend goalscorers against Ross County - Ross Callachan and Scott Martin - with track and trace meaning that they will also have to isolate for the next 10 days.

They will miss games against Celtic, St Johnstone and Motherwell.

"The heart of my team was ripped out," said Rice who is already coping without a number of first-team regulars because of injury issues.

"Nine first-team players missing before we start...for a club like Hamilton we just can’t cope with that with the size of our squad. That’s not why we lost. Livingston were excellent and thoroughly deserved to win.

"But seven of those nine players would be starters. Five injuries and one covid and three track and trace. It’s soul destroying. We could field a team. Nobody is wanting games cancelled. For me to put out a strongest team to compete I need some of those players on the pitch. There were young lads out there nowhere near the team in recent months. It’s nobody’s fault but it’s the way it is.

"We play Celtic on Saturday and none of them will be back."

To compound matters, goalkeeper Ryan Fulton had to hobble off in the second period. Rice remains unsure whether or not the stopper will be fit for the Boxing Day clash against Neil Lennon's side.