Livi’s survival hopes took a dent as they lost a five-goal thriller at home to St Mirren to slip five points adrift of eighth-placed Dumbarton in the Ladbrokes Championship table.
A three-game unbeaten run had boosted hopes of another great escape and, while there was much to be encouraged about in the performance, the result will have been hugely disappointing for boss David Hopkin.
Hopkin made just one enforced change to his side from the 2-0 win over Dumbarton as Osman Kakay came in for the suspended Jackson Longridge and it was the on-loan QPR defender who forced early pressure as his dangerous cross couldn’t find a teammate in the box.
Livi’s bright start was undone on 16 minutes when a reckless tackle from Darren Cole left ref Crawford Allan with no choice but to point to the penalty spot. Stephen Mallan sent Marc McCallum the wrong way from the spot to give Alex Rae’s side the lead.
The visitors’ lead was to be short-lived though as the Lions hit back immediately when Charlie Telfer’s defence-splitting pass freed Liam Buchanan who turned and coolly slotted into the corner to make it 1-1. Livi then had what looked a decent shout for a penalty of their own when Jordan White was barged off the ball but the ref was unmoved.
The Lions were enjoying a good spell and a rapid counter-attack from a Saints corner saw Telfer play in Josh Mullin but his cross was turned behind for a corner which was eventually gathered by Langfield.
Livi’s pressure would prove to be in vain as the Buddies regained the lead on 35 minutes when Lawrence Shankland outmuscled Cole and lobbed a shot over McCallum. The Lions almost bounced back immediately for a second time when a mix-up in the visitors’ back line saw White get in behind but the angle was too tight for him.
The Lions continued to press before half-time and a sublime cross from Mark Fotheringham saw White beat Langfield in the air but Buchanan could only nod the loose ball over under pressure, meaning the Buddies went in at the break in front.
Half-time: Livingston 1-2 St Mirren
Livi started the second half strongly and White came close with headers twice in quick succession but saw Langfield equal to them both. A mistake from Cole almost let Saints in again but he recovered well to make an inch-perfect tackle which allowed McCallum to gather.
That recovery would prove crucial as, within seconds, White finally got the better of Langfield and brought Livi level on 53 minutes when he reacted quickest to poke the ball into the roof of the net after Telfer’s long-range thunderbolt had come back off the post. Livi continued to press and forced a succession of corners as they went in search of a third goal.
Both sides made their first changes just after the hour mark as Stuart Carswell replaced Scott Agnew for Saints before Livi’s change saw Morgyn Neill came on for Cole. Neill was involved almost immediately as he powered a header against the crossbar.
Despite dominating much of the second half, Livi found themselves behind for a third time when the ball fell to Shankland at the edge of the box and he unleashed a sublime looping volley over McCallum and into the net. The two bosses reacted to the goal by making another change – Alex Cooper replaced by Alan Gow for the visitors and Jordyn Sheerin coming on for Kakay for the Lions.
Livi continued to flood forward as they looked for a third equaliser and Buchanan fired a ball across goal but White could only glance a header wide on the stretch. Saints final change saw David Clarkson replaced by Steven Thompson. Lions sub Sheerin was unlucky not to score when he did well to turn and fire in a low shot which Langfield saved smartly. A final Lions change saw Mullin with an I replaced by Mullen with an E.
The Lions finished strongly but couldn’t find another equaliser as St Mirren held on for victory. The result continues a bizarre trend in league meetings between the two sides which has seen the home side fail to win in all eight league clashes.
Full-time: Livingston 2-3 St Mirren
Livingston: McCallum, Halkett, Cole (Neill 67), Gordon, Kakay (Sheerin 74), Mullin (Mullen 82), White, Fotheringham, Stanton, Telfer, Buchanan
Subs not used: Quinn, Currie, Pittman, Knox
Goals: Buchanan (16), White (53)
St Mirren: Langfield, Irvine, Watson, Gallagher, Agnew (Carswell 63), Mallan, Clarkson (Thompson 77), Webster, Baird, Shankland, Cooper (Gow 73)
Subs not used: Wilks, Goodwin, Howieson, Stewart
Goals: Mallan (15 pen), Shankland (35 & 72)
Referee: Crawford Allan
Match Report: Andy Crawford