Peterhead 2-3 Livingston

Livi bounced back from consecutive defeats as they edged a five-goal thriller at Balmoor Stadium to extend their lead at the top of Ladbrokes League One to nine points.

After a goalless first half, the match burst into life with three goals in three minutes just after the interval as the Lions overcame a missed penalty and awful offside decision to register their first win in three games.

Livi boss David Hopkin threw his two new signings straight into the team as Declan Gallagher and Mark Millar came in for Jackson Longridge and Dale Carrick, reverting to a three-man defence with Craig Halkett and Rafa De Vita as wing backs.

It was the visitors who started the brighter and they had the ball in the net on 10 minutes when De Vita’s cross flew straight in but the goal was disallowed as the offside Alan Lithgow was adjudged to have put off Peterhead keeper Graham Smith. Up the other end, Jamie Stevenson tried his luck with a free kick from 25 yards but Liam Kelly gathered it easily.

Livi had the next chance on 22 minutes when Danny Mullen’s low ball found Liam Buchanan but his effort from a tight angle was deflected wide for a corner. The resulting corner was cleared as far as Millar – his first time effort looked netbound until a home defender made the block.

More pressure saw Mullen and Buchanan link up well before the latter cut inside and unleashed a shot that was brilliantly saved by Smith. A minute later a long throw was cleared as far as Sean Crighton but he snatched at his shot and it flew high over the bar.

After Simon Ferry picked up the game’s first yellow card, Rory McAllister tested Kelly with a low free kick but the Livi stopper made a fine save down to his left to push it wide. Shaun Byrne then picked up Livi’s first caution for a foul on Steven Noble before Peterhead’s Scott Brown drove forward from midfield before shooting high over the bar.

Livi were handed a golden chance to take a lead into the interval when Mullen was pulled back by Scott Rumsby inside the box and referee David Lowe pointed straight to the spot, showing Rumsby a yellow card. Buchanan stepped up but his effort lacked power and Smith was able to save relatively comfortably. The half-time whistle followed shortly after, sending the teams in at the interval all square.

Half-time: Peterhead 0-0 Livingston

The Lions roared out for the second half and broke the deadlock within five minutes of the restart. It was a dream return for Gallagher as he rose highest to bullet home a terrific header from De Vita’s corner.

The lead was short-lived though as the home side drew level two minutes later when a cross from the left was met by the unmarked Nicky Riley who sent his header under Kelly and into the net.

Parity was even more brief, however, as the Lions restored their lead barely 60 seconds later when Buchanan was played clean through on goal and he calmly slotted his 20th goal of the season under Smith at his near post. It was almost 3-1 four minutes later as Mullen got on the end of another De Vita corner but saw his header cannon back off the post.

The home side almost drew level on 59 minutes when Ferry got on the end of a low cross but turned his effort just wide. Blue Toon boss Jim McInally made his first change soon after as Leighton McIntosh came on for Jordon Brown. It proved to be an inspired change as, barely two minutes later, the substitute reached the byline and cut the ball back for McAllister to slot home under Kelly and make it 2-2.

Livi didn’t seem too perturbed by the loss of the equaliser and came close to regaining the lead again on 68 minutes when Buchanan found himself in space at the edge of the box but saw his fierce strike brilliantly pushed wide by Smith.

The Lions thought they had regained the lead on 72 minutes when Mullen latched onto a short pass back by the Peterhead defence to slot home only to be inexplicably flagged offside, with the better-placed referee choosing not to overrule him.

Livi made their first change on 76 minutes as De Vita was replaced by Nicky Cadden and the change paid dividends three minutes later as the Lions took the lead for a third time when Cadden’s low cross was smartly backheeled home by Byrne to make it 3-2.

The Lions second change saw Carrick come on for Buchanan a minute after the goal and they assumed control of the match as time ticked down. A final time-wasting change saw Longridge replace Mullen as Livi comfortably held on for a vital victory.

Full-time: Peterhead 2-3 Livingston

Peterhead: Smith, Comrie, Noble, Ross, Rumsby, S.Brown, Stevenson, J.Brown (McIntosh 60), McAllister, Ferry, Riley (Blockley 76)
Subs not used: Hobday, Dzierzawski, Baptie, Adams
Goals: Riley (52), McAllister (62)

Livingston: Kelly, Crighton, Lithgow, Gallagher, Halkett, Byrne, De Vita (Cadden 77), Pittman, Millar, Buchanan (Carrick 80), Mullen (Longridge 90)
Subs not used: Maley, Knox, Mullin, Neill
Goals: Gallagher (50), Buchanan (53), Byrne (79)

Referee: David Lowe
Att: 582
Match Report: Andy Crawford

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