It was far from a ‘Thriller’ on Hallowe’en night as Livi suffered their first league defeat since the opening day of the season as St Johnstone secured a three-point haul from their guising trip to the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Matty Kennedy scored the only goal of the game inside five minutes as Lions boss Gary Holt suffered his first defeat since taking over in August.
Livi were unchanged for the seventh match in succession but got off to the worst possible start as the visitors took the lead in the fifth minute when Tony Watt’s mishit shot fell to the unmarked Kennedy at the back post and he slotted past Liam Kelly from close range.
That was just the third goal the Lions had conceded in nine games and they struggled to gain a foothold in the match, as Keaghan Jacobs and Dolly Menga saw crosses sail out of play. Another Jacobs free kick on 17 minutes saw Saints goalkeeper Zander Clark flap at the high ball but the offside flag came to his rescue.
The visitors picked up the first yellow card on 20 minutes as David Wotherspoon barged Menga off the ball. Jacobs whipped the resulting free kick into the box and, after Kerr headed clear, Scott Pittman sent the back in for Menga who was flagged offside.
The visitors came close to a second on 26 minutes when Liam Craig fired in a low free kick that was well saved by Kelly before Watt passed up an even better opportunity four minutes later as he was sent clean through but Kelly came off his line sharply to deny the former Celtic striker.
Pittman picked up Livi’s first yellow card on 32 minutes after tripping Craig as he looked to recover possession before, up the other end, Jacobs saw another free kick drift out of play. The Lions then passed up their best chance of the match three minutes later as Ricki Laos’s cross found Menga and he teed up Pittman but he saw his close range drive well saved by Clark who gathered at the second attempt.
Another chance came Livi’s way five minutes from half time as Stevie Lawless’ corner was met by captain Craig Halkett but he planted a header wide of the post as the Lions went in at the interval a goal down.
Half-time: Livingston 0-1 St Johnstone
The visitors started the second half in a similar vein to the first and came close to a second goal four minutes after the restart as Scott Tanser found space on the left hand side but sent his effort over the bar.
Menga talked himself into a yellow card on 57 minutes after vociferously protesting against a decision not to award him a free kick before before he set up Lawless a minute later for a shot that took a deflection and looped over the crossbar. The resulting corner was headed clear.
Livi made a double change on 69 minutes as Bobby Burns and Egli Kaja came on for Lawless and Scott Robinson before another couple of crosses, this time from Menga and Kaja, flew out of play. Both sides then made a change on 77 minutes, Craig Sibbald replacing Jacobs for Livi and Chris Kane coming on for Watt for the visitors.
Callaghan then replaced Wotherspoon for Saints before Sibbald came close to an equaliser for the Lions on 83 minutes as he fired in a low 20-yard drive that trundled agonisingly wide with Clark scrambling. Halkett was then booked for a cynical foul to stop a counter attack before Drey Wright replaced goalscorer Kennedy as a frustrating night for the Lions ended their unbeaten run in the Ladbrokes Premiership at a club record-equalling eight games.
Full-time: Livingston 0-1 St Johnstone
Livingston: Kelly, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Lamie, Lawless (Kaja 71), Byrne, Pittman, Jacobs (Sibbald 78), Robinson (Burns 69), Menga
Subs not used: Stewart, Hamilton, Lawson, McMillan
St Johnstone: Clark, Shaughnessy, Kerr, Gordon, Foster, Tanser, Davidson, Craig, Wotherspoon (Callachan 81), Kennedy (Wright 86), Watt (Kane 78)
Subs not used: Hurst, Swanson, McMillan, Nydam
Goals: Kennedy (5)
Referee: John Beaton
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine