FOR Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, it was a Boxing Day goal on his birthday weekend like no other, fulfilling a promise to a friend more than 400 miles away. 

The infectious Livingston striker fought off the howling wind and the swirling rain in Ayrshire on Saturday to find the back of the net, helping the Lions on their way to a sixth straight win to keep the good times rolling in West Lothian. 

And it was a goal which meant more to the former Arsenal youngster than most; not only did it begin the Livi fightback but it came a day before his 30th birthday and ensured he was as good as his word to his best friend in London who’d just gone into labour.

“That goal meant a lot,” Emmanuel-Thomas said. “One of my best friends was in labour, so I told her I was going to score for the baby.

“My friend Simone is back in London with her partner and the baby boy was due. We were just waiting for the arrival. It was also my 30th birthday on Sunday, so it was ideal.

“With the win, the goal for me, the baby and the birthday, it was a great day.”

When it was put to him that Simone had to name the baby after him, Emmanuel-Thomas laughed: “I’ll tell her that. I was going to text her after the game and I’ll let her know that it was said that should happen!” 

It was quite the week for Emmanuel-Thomas, even if you put aside the goal and his friend’s heartwarming news. On Wednesday, he impressed in a cameo off the bench in Livi’s convincing win at Hamilton Accies before he played a pivotal role in his team’s Boxing Day triumph away to Kilmarnock. 

Not only did he find the back of the net - a left footed strike which squirmed under the body of Killie goalkeeper Danny Rogers to level the contest just seconds after the home side had take the lead through Chris Burke - but the once England youth internationalist provided a focal point for David Martindale’s side throughout his 69 minutes on the park. 

“It has taken me some time [to settle],” he said. “Every style of football is different. In this game, it was a wet and windy day and it was a battle. There were balls up in the air.

“I’ve come here and I’m playing and I’m enjoying it. The boys and the staff here have all made me feel so welcome and I feel I am comfortably settled and want to keep going.”

One man who has been key to his success is Martindale, who’s no nonsense style has helped turn a wayward season around for Livingston. 

“He’s a manager that knows what he requires from players,” Emmanuel-Thomas said. “He likes to push forward, he likes to press. When you are on the pitch, it’s as long as you are in possession of the ball. To get possession of the ball, you do the stuff that he requires.

“He’s straight and he won’t be saying anything without you being there that he would not say to your face. You prefer that. 

Glasgow Times: Emmanuel-Thomas believes Martindale is getting the best out of Livingston Emmanuel-Thomas believes Martindale is getting the best out of Livingston

“He never stops and he is constantly at you. But he is not shouting at you for him to be aggressive or put you off. It’s to be alert and for alertness. When he screams, you are like: Okay, let me go and start running.

“His voice is loud and, no matter where you are on that pitch, you can hear Davie, especially with there being no fans inside the stadiums at the moment.” 

For Livingston’s downed opponents, it’s perhaps no bad thing supporters were not there to witness Scott Robinson’s last-minute winner. These are wretched times at Kilmarnock with the Livingston defeat making it just one win in their last nine games. 

“Our confidence isn’t great at the minute,” said defender Aaron McGowan. “Let’s not be stupid, our run of form isn’t the best. 

“This is a good league and it can swallow you up very quickly, so I am under no illusions that it is a difficult job. 

“But I am also aware that we have lads in that changing room who can stick together. That’s the most important thing. There can’t be finger-pointing because many of us are not doing enough at the minute, in all honesty. 

Glasgow Times: Pressure is mounting on Killie boss Alex Dyer after a wretched run of form Pressure is mounting on Killie boss Alex Dyer after a wretched run of form

“You can’t just have a go at the manager. Yeah, he picks the team but there are eleven players on the pitch and subs to come on. That tells me it is about more than the manager. 

“We are behind him fully. I look at myself more than the manager. That’s the easy way out, to have a go at the manager. It’s a bit of a cop out.”