Livingston came from behind to seal a 3-2 victory away to Hibs and climb nine points clear of the relegation play-off spot.
A dramatic opening eight minutes saw Christian Doidge hit the post for the hosts – before Demetri Mitchell smashed the ball home from close range in the next passage of play. Livi went up the other end and were initially awarded a penalty when Odin Bailey went down in the box. After consultation between the officials, that call was overturned.
Livi would draw level on 18 minutes when Ayo Obileye headed home after Matt Macey missed the cross. But Hibs were back in front before the break in freak fashion when Chris Cadden’s deflected cross looped over Max Stryjek and into the net.
A quick-fire double in the early stages of the second half proved decisive as Jack Fitzwater gave home on 53 minutes before Alan Forrest – who turned down a move to St Johnstone during the week – curled the winner beyond Macey six minutes later.
Livingston boss David Martindale handed a first start to striker Joel Nouble, who had made two substitute appearances for the Lions since his return from a loan spell at Arbroath.
A frantic opening eight minutes saw Christian Doidge hit the woodwork with a header after getting on the end of Ewan Henderson’s cross – only for Mitchell to fire home at the back post after Livi had only half-cleared the resulting corner.
The Lions promptly went straight up the park and thought they had been handed a perfect opportunity for an instant reply as referee Grant Irvine pointed to the spot when Odin Bailey appeared to have been clipped by Matt Macey.
Following consultation with his assistant, however, he reversed that decision and awarded the hosts a free-kick.
They didn’t have to wait too long to tie things up as Obileye left home on 18 minutes. The big defender notched his fifth goal of the campaign as he took full advantage of Matt Macey flapping at a Bailey cross to loop his header into the far corner.
Nouble was proving to be a handful up front for Livi and he almost gave the visitors the lead just before the half hour mark. He cut inside Ryan Porteous with ease but his curling effort was wide of Macey’s left-hand post.
Within five minutes, Hibs would be in front in fortuitous circumstances as Cadden’s cross from the right touchline took a deflection off Jackson Longridge and wrong-footed Stryjek with the ball looping over the Polish keeper and just inside the far post.
Having been second best for much of the first half, the Lions roared after the interval and found themselves in front before the hour mark.
After flapping at Livi’s opener, Macey again had serious question marks to his name eight minutes after the break as the away side drew level once more. Nicky Devlin’s throw-in was flicked on by Nouble with Fitzwater heading home under relatively little pressure with Macey charging from his goal.
The turnaround was complete six minutes later as Forrest was played in down the left before the winger charged at the Hibs defense before a trademark cut inside on to his right and curling a wonderful strike beyond Macey.
Shaun Maloney threw everything at Livi in a bid to get back into the clash – using all five subs by the 73rd minute. Having been lackluster for much of the second half, the hosts squandered two great chances to level things up.
Nesbit jinked his way through the defense but could only fire straight at Stryjek under pressure from Obileye – before the striker blasted over from 16 yards moments later.
The Scotland attacker was again repelled three minutes from time when Stryjek made a smart save at his near post to ensure the points headed back to Livingston.
Hibernians: Macey; McGinn (Bushiri 22), Porteous, Stevenson (Doig 73); Cadden, Doyles-Hayes, Campbell (Mueller 65), Mitchell (Scott 73); Henderson; Doidge (Murphy 65), Nisbet. Subs not used: Dabrowski, Wright, Newell, Allan.
Goals: Mitchell (6), Cadden (32)
Livingstone: Stryjek; Devlin, Obilee, Fitzwater, Longridge (Montana 45); Omeonga, Holt, Pittman (Shinnie 77); Bailey, Nouble (Anderson 77), Forrest (Boyes 89). Subs not used: Maley, Lewis, McMillan, Chukwuemeka, Penrice.
Goals: Obilee (18), Fitzwater (53), Forrest (59)