Livi secured their place in the Premiership playoffs with a goalless draw at St Mirren which saw the Buddies clinch the Ladbrokes Championship title amid jubilant scenes at the Paisley 2021 Stadium.
On a tense afternoon, it was the home side who came closest to scoring when a thunderous Lewis Morgan strike was tipped onto the post by Neil Alexander but in the end both sides were happy to settle for a share of the spoils.
David Hopkin made two changes from the 3-2 win over Greenock Morton the previous week as Declan Gallagher returned from illness and Adam Frizzell came in for his first Lions start. Gregor Buchanan and Jordan Thompson dropped to the bench.
Unsurprisingly, it was the Buddies who started with the bit between their teeth, hoping to avoid a stressful afternoon in their pursuit of the championship. They came within a whisker of opening the scoring on seven minutes when Morgan cut in from the left and unleashed a ferocious strike that swerved all over the place and looked netbound before being brilliantly tipped on the post by Alexander.
They came close again four minutes later when Cammy Smith dribbled forward in search of an opening before trying a chip from the edge of the box that dropped onto the roof of the net. Danny Mullen then teed up Stephen McGinn for an effort from the edge of the box but he didn’t catch it well and Alexander saved with ease.
The dominant hosts had another sight of goal on 15 minutes, Ryan Flynn shooting over from distance, before the Lions finally tested the Saints defence five minutes later when Raffaele De Vita’s free kick was met by Gallagher but his header went straight into the arms of Craig Samson.
Livi then had a great chance to open the scoring on 24 minutes when Jackson Longridge’s fine whipped cross found Ryan Hardie in space at the back post but he could only steer his header just wide. De Vita picked up the game’s first yellow card for a soft foul in midfield before Flynn curled a free kick over the bar, Mullen having won the free kick by making the most of minimal, if any, contact with Shaun Byrne.
Cammy Smith picked up the home side’s yellow card for a foul on Craig Halkett before coming close to breaking the deadlock two minutes before half-time when Morgan played a dangerous low ball across goal which was just out of Smith’s reach. The final effort of the half went Livi’s way as De Vita did brilliantly to wriggle away from three Saints players but his curling effort flew over the bar.
Half-time: St Mirren 0-0 Livingston
It was the Lions who made a bright start to the second half but weren’t really able to test Samson and the home side had the first effort on 63 minutes when Morgan fired in a low effort that swerved just the wrong side of the post. Mullen then came close to a goal against his former side when he got on the end of a Smith cross but headed over the bar from close range.
Both sides made a change on 72 minutes, Livi sending on Josh Mullin for De Vita and Saints replacing Mullen with Gavin Reilly. Mullin was quickly involved for the Lions, finding Cadden with a fine crossfield pass but the ex-Airdrie man’s cross was comfortably gathered by Samson.
The Lions had Alan Lithgow to thank for keeping them on level terms 12 minutes from time when he produced a superb block to keep out a low effort from Morgan. The hosts made a second change on 86 minutes when Smith was replaced by Myles Hippolyte before a final half chance for Livi saw Gallagher get on the end of a Mullin free kick but Samson was able to gather comfortably.
The final whistle followed soon after, sparking wild celebrations and the now-obligatory pitch invasion from the home fans. The Livi players took their acclaim as well having secured a crack at promotion to the Premiership, something that would have seemed a mere pipe dream for the newly-promoted Lions back in August.
Full-time: St Mirren 0-0 Livingston
St Mirren: Samson, McGinn, MacKenzie, Magennis, Morgan, C.Smith(Hippolyte 86), Flynn, Davis, L.Smith, Mullen (Reilly 72), Eckersley
Subs not used: Stewart, Demetriou, Sutton, Baird, McShane
Livingston: Alexander, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, De Vita (Mullin 72), Pittman, Byrne, Frizzell (Cadden 46), Longridge, Miller (Thompson 51), Hardie
Subs not used: McMillan, Buchanan, Jacobs, Robinson
Referee: John Beaton
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine