Livi rounded off the regular season with defeat at Tannadice at Dundee United secured third place in the Ladbrokes Championship and a home second leg in the play-off quarter final.
Second half goals from Craig Slater and Scott McDonald gave Csaba Laszlo’s side a second home win over the Lions this season, although they rode their luck at times with the Lions striking the bar on two occasions.
David Hopkin rang the changes once again after the defeat to Inverness as only Declan Gallagher, Jordan Thompson and Ryan Hardie kept their places. Neil Alexander, Craig Halkett, Alan Lithgow, Scott Pittman, Shaun Byrne, Keaghan Jacobs, Nicky Cadden and Lee Miller all came into the starting line-up.
The Lions came within a whisker of taking the lead inside two minutes when Hardie rose highest to meet a corner but saw his header cannon back off the bar before Miller headed the rebound over. Halkett then tried to get on the end of a free kick from Thompson six minutes later but it was just out of his reach.
Gallagher came close to an extraordinary opener for Livi on 15 minutes when he tried an overhead kick from the edge of the box that dropped only inches wide of the post. The home side then had their first sight of goal four minutes later as they broke quickly from a Livi attack but Slater could only fire high and wide of the target.
Both sets of fans united on 29 minutes with a minute’s applause in tribute to Liam Colgan, who tragically lost his life while on a stag weekend in Hamburg, as cries of ‘One Liam Colgan’ rang out from the away end.
Another chance came Livi’s way on 37 minutes as the ball fell to Miller on the edge of the six-yard box but his low shot was brilliantly kept out by Deniz Mehmet as the teams went in at the break all-square.
Half-time: Dundee United 0-0 Livingston
The match had a real end-of-season feel about it and the second half took a while to get going before bursting into life on 54 minutes when the home side took the lead. Billy King did well to beat his man and reach the byline before firing in a low cross for Slater to fire home at the back post. Slater tried his luck again from further out eight minutes later as he cut inside at the corner of the box but his left footed drive was too close to Alexander who saved comfortably.
Miller then came close to a goal against his former club as he got on the end of a corner at the back post but he was almost too close to the goal and couldn’t steer his header on target before United charged up the other end and Thomas Mikkelsen, who had just come on, got in behind Halkett but could only send his powerful effort into the side netting.
The woodwork came to United’s rescue once again on 75 minutes when a cross to the back post was met by Hardie but his header bounced off the top of the bar on its way out for a goal kick. Miller then bundled his way into the box four minutes later and drilled a low shot across goal and just wide of the post.
Livi would rue those missed chances as United sealed the points with five minutes to play when, after Alexander had done well to deny Bilel Mohsni and Stuart Murdoch had headed the resulting corner against post, the ball came back into the box once again and McDonald was on hand to head home.
The match fizzled out after that as United eased to the points that ensured they would be at home for the second leg of the play-off quarter final against Dunfermline. For Livi, it marked the end of a proud run of over 60 games without consecutive defeats as they turned their attention to facing the winners of that quarter final in the next stage of the race to the Premiership.
Full-time: Dundee United 2-0 Livingston
Dundee Utd: Mehmet, Ralston, Mohsni, Murdoch, Robson, Gillespie (Briels 88), Stanton, Slater (Smith 84), Fraser (Mikkelsen 73), King, McDonald
Subs not used: Glass, Scobbie, Edjenguele, Lewis
Goals: Slater (54), McDonald (85)
Livingston: Alexander, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Thompson (Frizzell 63), Pittman, Byrne (Longridge 72), Jacobs, Cadden (Mullin 77), Hardie, Miller
Subs not used: Buchanan, Robinson, Maley, De Vita
Referee: Greg Aitken
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine