Livi suffered their first home defeat since August as Queen of the South left West Lothian with all three points to replace the Lions in the Championship playoff places.
Chris Kane’s goal six minutes from half-time gave Gary Naysmith’s side a hard-fought win in a match low on quality as Livi failed to score for the third home league match in succession.
David Hopkin made three changes from the side that drew at Inverness four days earlier as Nikolay Todorov, Scott Robinson and James Penrice replaced Declan Gallagher, Nicky Cadden and Josh Mullin. James Penrice made the final appearance of his loan spell from Partick Thistle while new loan signing Jordan Thompson was among the substitutes.
There was little action of note in the opening stages, with the referee forced into action early on as Queens’ Joe Thomson, who was briefly on loan at Livi earlier in the season, picked up a yellow card for a high boot on Scott Pittman. The first chance of any substance came the Lions’ way on 18 minutes as Robinson did well down the right and his cut back was cleared as far as Shaun Byrne who set himself up before firing wide of the post.
Robinson was involved again two minutes later, this time from the other flank as his low cross narrowly evaded the stretching Dylan Mackin. Livi came within a whisker of breaking the deadlock on 24 minutes as Pittman and Robinson combined well before teeing up Raffaele De Vita and his low shot trundled past Queens keeper Alan Martin but cannoned back off the post. Queens came close themselves shortly after when Stephen Dobbie drove in from the right and first in a low drive that Neil Alexander got down well to save.
De Vita tried his luck with a free kick from 30 yards on 28 minutes but his effort, accurate but lacking in power, was gathered by Martin before the Italian turned provider three minutes later, whipping in a cross from the right that was met by Mackin but his flicked effort bounced the wrong side of the post.
The deadlock was broken on 39 minutes and the goal was a microcosm of the match as a whole as Dobbie took advantage of an uncharacteristic error from Craig Halkett to run in on goal. His effort cannoned back off the post but Kane was on hand to fire the rebound home.
After Rooney picked up a yellow card for a mistimed tackle on Penrice, Livi had the final chance of the half when Jackson Longridge headed the ball on for Mackin but he could only fire wide after turning well as the Lions went in at the break a goal down.
Half-time: Livingston 0-1 Queen of the South
The second half started even slower than the first and it took a first substitution of the afternoon to wake up the crowd as Longridge went off to be replaced by debutant Thompson before the visitors came close to doubling their lead seconds later when Dobbie took advantage of another slip at the back to drive in on goal but Alexander got down brilliantly to tip his low effort wide for a corner. Queens’ Scott Mercer then picked up a yellow card for taking an unnecessary amount of time over a throw in.
Livi went close twice in quick succession as Todorov saw his header cleared off the line before Halkett’s far post effort flew into the side netting. The visitors’ delaying tactics fell foul of referee Stephen Finnie again on 65 minutes as Kane was booked for kicking the ball away before Livi’s second change saw Robinson replaced by Steven Boyd. Little else happened until the Lions made their third change eight minutes later, Mackin replaced by Josh Mullin.
The Lions should have drawn level on 79 minutes as Mullin did well down the right and his whipped cross found Boyd unmarked at the near post but he flashed his header inches wide from six yards. Up the other end, Dobbie tried his luck with a free kick from 25 yards but his effort fizzed just wide.
Livi were running out of ideas and Alexander’s long kick was headed on by Todorov on 86 minutes but Martin gathered with ease. Queens made their first change in the final minute as Owen Bell replaced Dobbie before Livi passed up another chance in injury time as De Vita’s cross was met by Boyd but he headed wide under pressure as the Lions succumbed to a frustrating defeat.
Full-time: Livingston 0-1 Queen of the South
Livingston: Alexander, Lithgow, Halkett, Longridge (Thompson 58), Byrne, Pittman, Robinson (Boyd 66), Penrice, Todorov, Mackin (Mullin 74), De Vita
Subs not used: Maley, Carrick, Knox, Cadden
QOTS: Martin, Rooney, Brownlie, Rankin, Kane, Dobbie (Bell 90), Thomson, Kerr, Murray, Mercer, Dykes
Subs not used: Leighfield, Stirling, Fergusson, Akubuine, Gourlay
Goals: Kane (39)
Referee: Stephen Finnie
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine