Late drama saw Livingston fall to a 2-1 defeat ay home to St Johnstone as Ali Crawford netted a 90th minute winner as the visitors climbed off the foot of the table on goal difference.
A disjointed Lions were fortunate to be on level terms at half-time after a sloppy opening which saw the Saints take an 11th minute lead as Callum Hendry rose above Jack Fitzwater to head home.
The hosts leveled things up against the run of play on 34 minutes when Alan Forrest charged behind the defense before squaring for Bruce Anderson to slam home his 10th goal of the season.
Livi took that momentum into the second half with Forrest going close twice but it would be Callum Davidson’s men who notched the crucial goal as the clash looked to be heading for a draw as Glenn Middleton got himself to the goal-line with Crawford on hand to roll the ball into the net.
The drama didn’t end there as Joel Nouble was shown a second yellow card in a matter of minutes for Livi – who then passed up a glorious chance to steal a draw when Nicky Devlin struck the outside of the post deep into injury-time.
A late equalizer for Motherwell at St Mirren means Livi remain in eighth but are now just eight points off the foot of the table.
Livingston boss David Martindale made two changes to the side that had beaten Hibs at the weekend with James Penrice returning at left-back at the expense of the injured Jackson Longridge, while Anderson started in place of Nouble up front.
The hosts almost gifted St Johnstone the lead twice in the opening seven minutes through defensive lapses as firstly Ayo Obileye and the Jack Fitzwater’s slackness almost led to Stevie May finding the net. Obileye did well to charge back and recover in the first instance while Max Stryjek raced back to collect the ball before it rolled into the net in the other.
The Saints would deservedly open the scoring on 11 minutes as Daniel Cleary’s cross from the right was met by Hendry who rose above the defense to firmly plant a header into the corner of the net.
Livi looked shellshocked for the opening half hour with a string of panicked decision and misplaced passes being in stark contrast to the type of display that had seen them recover well from a slow start to the season.
So it was very much against the run of play when they netted a 34th minute equalizer. James Penrice played in Alan Forrest down the left flank with the winger wonderfully dummying Cleary before charging to the line and rolling the ball across goal for Anderson to gleefully slam home his 10th goal of the season.
The Lions started the second half looking much more like the team of recent weeks with a real cutting edge and urgency to their attack. It nearly paid dividends on 56 minutes when Obileye skilfully collected the ball in a congested area and fired at goal – with his effort rebounding into the path of Forrest who saw his fizzing strike deflected wide.
The winger, who turned down a move to Perth last week, was in stunning form all evening and again went close on the hour mark when his free-kick from 25 yards looked to be heading for the top corner before Zander Clark tipped the ball over .
Livi were unable to make their advantage count as St Johnstone finally got to grips with the second half and enjoyed a period of pressure inside the home side’s half – but they offered little in terms of a genuine threat to Stryjek as the defense dealt with everything thrown their way until the game ticked into the 90th minute.
Middleton charged at the home side’s defense down the right flank before rolling the ball across goal for Crawford to fire home and spark scenes of delight amongst the away fans.
Livingstone: Stryjek; Devlin, Obilee, Fitzwater, Penrice; Holt, Pittman (Shinnie 70), Omeonga; Bailey (Chukwuemeka 65), Anderson (Nouble 79), Forrest. Subs not used: Maley, Montano, Boyes, Lewis, McMillan, Kelly.
Goal: Anderson (34).
Sit-off: Noble (90).
St Johnstone: Clark; Cleary, Gordon (Mahon 60), McCart; Brown, Hallberg (Davidson 71), Crawford, Butterfield, Booth; Hendry, May (Middleton 79). Subs not used: Parish, Gallacher, Gilmour, Craig, Sang, Hector-Ingram.
Goal: Hendry (11), Crawford (90).
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