Livingston climb into European places with late victory over Dundee United

Livingston jumped into the European places with a comeback victory over Dundee United at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

Liam Smith had fired United in front after just two minutes but a thunderous Scott Pittman effort midway through the first half was added to by an unfortunate Ryan Edwards own goal seven minutes from time when he diverted Nicky Devlin’s cross beyond his own keeper.

Livingston boss David Martindale named an unchanged starting line-up for the fourth successive game but they quickly found themselves behind as Ilmari Niskanen down the left found Tony Watt who in turn saw his ball to the back post turned home by Smith.

Either side of the early goal, the hosts had half chances as both Scott Pittman and Joel Nouble headed wide under pressure in a fast-paced opening after which they struggled to get a foothold in the game.

LIVINGSTON, SCOTLAND – MARCH 02: Dundee United’s Liam Smith scores to make it 1-0 during a Cinch Premiership match between Livingston and Dundee United at the Tony Macaroni Arena, on March 02, in Livingston, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group)

However, they were back on level terms midway through the first half when Bruce Anderson latched on to a ball over the top, cut inside and teed up Pittman to slam home his second goal in as many games.

That sparked a change in momentum as Ayo Obileye’s thunderous header went inches over the bar while moments later Alan Forrest cut in from the left and saw his drive flash narrowly wide of Benji Siegrist’s left-hand post. Pittman almost doubled his account on 37 minutes but could only fire over from 10 yards.

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The midfielder would again go close to finding a second less than a minute into the second half when he got on the end of Anderson’s angled drive across goal but Siegrist pulled off a crucial save to keep his side on level terms.

LIVINGSTON, SCOTLAND – MARCH 02: Dundee United’s Ryan Edwards scores an own goal to make it 2-1 to Livingston during a Cinch Premiership match between Livingston and Dundee United at the Tony Macaroni Arena, on March 02, in Livingston, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group)

Tam Courts would switch things up just five minutes after the break as he introduced Scott McMann and Chris Mochrie and the visitors began to gain a foothold back into the game. They went close to re-taking the lead on the hour mark when neatly playing in and around the box eventually led to Nicky Clark firing into the side-netting.

At the other end, Forrest almost made the most of a poor clearance from Siegrist but the keeper redeemed himself by saving the winger’s effort – with the next passage of play seeing the Livi man fired an angled drive across the face of goal and agonizingly wide.

United would enjoy a period of dominance but without threatening to find a second. Kevin McDonald’s mishit volley 13 minutes from time found the head of Marc McNulty but his instinctive effort would go over the bar with Max Stryjek flat-footed.

If that was fortuitous in Livi’s favour, they would receive an even bigger slice of good luck seven minutes from time when Devlin’s enticing cross from the right flank was diverted beyond his own keeper by Edwards.

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The hosts would hold on during a nervous final few minutes to jump into fourth place.

Livingstone: Stryjek; Devlin, Obilee, Fitzwater, Penrice; Pittman, Holt, Omeonga; Nouble (Bailey 81), Anderson (Soto 70), Forrest (Montano 81). Subs not used: Konovalov, Longridge, Sibbald, Boyes, Lewis, Shinnie.

Goal: Pittman (23), Edwards (83 og)

Dundee United: Siegrist; Edwards, Mulgrew, Graham (McMann 50); Smith, Butcher (McDonald 66), Freeman (Mochrie 50), Niskanen; Harks; Watt (Clark 12), McNulty. Subs not used: Eriksson, Meekison, Neilson, MacLeod, Anim.

Goal: Smith (2)

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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