Livi returned to winning ways as they edged a five-goal thriller with Greenock Morton at the Tony Macaroni Arena to move to the brink of securing a place in the Premiership play-offs.
In a match where the defenders were on top, albeit in attack, an Alan Lithgow double, plus one from Jackson Longridge, cancelled out Thomas O’Ware and Ricki Lamie strikes for Morton to seal a dramatic victory and extend the Lions’ run without consecutive defeats to 60 matches.
Lions boss David Hopkin made four changes to his starting line-up from the narrow loss to Dunfermline with Declan Gallagher missing out through illness and Nicky Cadden, Keaghan Jacobs and Scott Robinson dropping to the bench. Gregor Buchanan, Jordan Thompson, Raffaele De Vita and Lee Miller came in from the start.
It was Miller who had the first half chance for the Lions inside two minutes as he tried his luck from distance but it was comfortably saved by Derek Gaston in the Morton goal. Livi then had what looked like a strong claim for a penalty turned down on 10 minutes when Thompson was clipped inside the box by Gary Harkins before Craig Halkett sent a volley over from close range moments later.
The visitors had their first chance on 17 minutes when Michael Tidser tried his luck from the edge of the box but Neil Alexander saved comfortably. It was only a brief respite for the Lions though as Jim Duffy’s side took the lead a minute later when a corner was flicked on by Luca Gasparotto and O’Ware was on hand to turn the ball home at the far post.
The visitors took the sting out of things after taking the lead and had looked comfortable until the Lions drew level on 34 minutes when a long throw-in from Lithgow was flicked on by Miller for Longridge to nod home from close range.
Livi almost completed the turnaround five minutes from the interval when De Vita’s free kick was met by a glancing header from Miller but Gaston was more than equal to it with a fine fingertip save. Gaston was called into action again on the stroke of half time when he got down low to keep out an effort from Ryan Hardie as the teams went in at the break level.
Half-time: Livingston 1-1 Greenock Morton
Morton had the first sight of goal in the second half on 50 minutes when Gary Oliver turned neatly inside the box but could only shoot straight at Alexander.
It was a miss that would prove costly as the Lions moved in front barely a minute later when, after Gaston had done well to tip an effort from Hardie wide, Lithgow rose to head home the resulting corner from De Vita. Livi made their first change on 58 minutes as Jacobs replaced Thompson before Lamie picked up a yellow card for a rough challenge on Miller.
Morton made a double change of their own shortly after as Frank Ross and Bob McHugh came on for Harkins and Oliver before Longridge was booked for a foul 25 yards out, though the resulting free kick came to nothing.
David Hopkin made his second change on 66 minutes as Hardie went off to be replaced by Cadden but the Lions were stunned two minutes later as the visitors drew level when a corner fell to Lamie in the box and he fired home.
Livi made their final change on 78 minutes as Adam Frizzell came on for De Vita before the Lions came within a whisker of winning it four minutes later when Halkett unleashed a fierce effort from 25 yards out that came crashing back off the post.
The Lions weren’t to be denied, though, and they restored their lead four minutes from time when Jacobs’ corner from the left was met by Lithgow and he powered his header down into the net to seal a crucial win that takes Livi 11 points clear of fifth-placed Morton with just four games to go.
Full-time: Livingston 3-2 Greenock Morton
Livingston: Alexander, Lithgow, Halkett, Buchanan, Thompson (Jacobs 59), Pittman, Byrne, De Vita (Frizzell 79), Longridge, Miller, Hardie (Cadden 66)
Subs not used: Maley, Robinson, Mullin, McMillan
Goals: Longridge (35), Lithgow (53 & 86)
Morton: Gaston, Murdoch, O’Ware, Lamie, Doyle, Oliver (McHugh 63), Thomson, Tidser, Harkins (Ross 62), Tiffoney (Russell 88), Gasparotto
Subs not used: Brennan, Baird, Fraser, Iredale
Goals: O’Ware (18), Lamie (69)
Referee: Stephen Kirkland
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine