There wasn’t much Christmas cheer for Livi as they saw their five-match unbeaten run come to an end as they suffered a narrow defeat to Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
Goals from Connor McLennan and Bruce Anderson put Derek McInnes’ side two goals up and, although Lyndon Dykes pulled one back late on with his tenth goal of the season, the Lions were unable to find an equaliser as the Dons remain the only side they have yet to beat since their return to the top flight.
Livi reverted to the starting line-up from the 3-3 draw with St Mirren as Aaron Taylor-Sinclair returned to the side in place of captain Alan Lithgow, who had replaced him for the win over Ross County but missed out on the trip north through illness. The Lions started brightly and threatened a couple of times in the opening ten minutes with good deliveries from Steve Lawson and Marvin Bartley but, on both occasions, there were no takers in the box.
The home side showed no such profligacy as they broke the deadlock on 12 minutes when Niall McGinn played in Lewis Ferguson who drove forward and then, as the Livi defence swarmed around him, he was able to pick out the comparatively-unmarked McLennan who tapped home from close range.
Livi were well in the game but just couldn’t find that cutting edge, Lawson and Bartley linking up well on 25 minutes only for the latter to see his cross blocked. Aberdeen then went close seven minutes later when Ferguson sent a looping header over the bar. Matija Sarkic then found Stevie Lawless two minutes later and he teed up Lawson but, again, his cross could find no takers in the box.
That was becoming a growing trend for the Lions and, after Bartley did well to win the ball back on 37 minutes, he found Lawson down the right but, this time, his cross was blocked by the Dons defence. Livi finally got in behind the home defence two minutes as Scott Pittman found himself clean through but Joe Lewis rushed out of his goal and got just enough on the midfielder’s effort to divert it wide of target.
Jon Guthrie then made a vital interception on 44 minutes to prevent McLennan running clean through on goal and ensure that the Lions went in at the interval just the one goal behind.
Half-time: Aberdeen 1-0 Livingston
Livi started brightly after the interval but were still lacking a final ball, Aymen Souda the next to see a cross blocked out for a corner that came to nothing. Craig Sibbald then saw a free kick headed clear by the Dons defence on 54 minutes. The home side made their first change two minutes later when Jon Gallagher replaced Ryan Hedges.
Aberdeen’s first threat of the second half came on 63 minutes as McGinn saw his shot blocked inside the area before the Lions broke up the other end and Bartley saw another fine low cross fail to find a teammate in the box. McGinn then forced Sarkic into his first save of the match three minutes later when he found himself free in the box but saw his effort fly straight at the Livi stopper. McLennan then replaced Anderson for the Dons soon after.
The home side should have put the game to bed on 71 minutes but Curtis Main somehow managed to head wide of target from a few yards out before Livi made their first change moments later, Scott Robinson replacing Souda before Aberdeen were forced into their final switch on 76 minutes as Dean Campbell replaced the injured Funso Ojo.
Chris Erskine replaced Sibbald for the Lions on 78 minutes but, before the new man was able to get involved, the Dons doubled their lead two minutes later when Anderson curled a low effort into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
All that had been missing from the Lions’ performance was their final ball and when they finally produced one five minutes from time, it paid dividends as Lawless picked out Dykes with a terrific cross and he powered home a header for his fourth goal in two games.
The Lions piled on the pressure in the closing stages, Lawson sending a free kick straight into the arms of Lewis, but were unable to force an equaliser as the Dons ran out narrow winners and Livi dropped to seventh in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Full-time: Aberdeen 2-1 Livingston
Aberdeen: Lewis, Vyner, Taylor, McKenna, Considine, Ojo (Campbell 78), Ferguson, McGinn, McLennan (Anderson 67), Hedges (Gallagher 58), Main
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Logan, Devlin, Wilson
Goals: McLennan (13), Anderson (81)
Livingston: Sarkic, Lawson, Lamie, Guthrie, Taylor-Sinclair, Bartley, Sibbald (Erskine 80), Lawless, Souda (Robinson 74), Pittman, Dykes
Subs Not Used: Stewart, McMillan, Odoffin, Jacobs, Crawford
Goals: Dykes (86)
Referee: Bobby Madden
Match Report: Andy Crawford