Livi suffered added-time agony at Pittodrie as Lewis Ferguson’s spectacular overhead kick gave Aberdeen all three points in a gripping encounter and send them into the top six of the Ladbrokes Premiership.
The Lions has overturned Niall McGinn’s early opener to lead at half-time through Scott Pittman and Jack McMillan butthe Dons were dominant after the break and Sam Cosgrove brought them level before Ferguson’s late show.
There were three changes to the Lions’line up from the win over St Mirren as McMillan, Craig Sibbald and Bobby Burns came in for Stevie Lawless, Ryan Hardie and Ricki Lamie but they almost got off to the worst possible start inside three minutes when Stevie May waltzed through the Livi defence and got a shot away that Liam Kelly did brilliantly to save from point blank range.
Craig Halkett picked up a booking on six minutes for a mistimed challenge on Shay Logan before the home side broke the deadlock three minutes later when Logan’s cross from the right found McGinn unmarked at the back post and he coolly volleyed past Kelly.
It would have been easy for the Lions’heads to drop but they came roaring back and drew level on 12 minutes when Dolly Menga’s flick-on was misjudged by Scott McKenna and, under pressure from Sibbald, Dons keeper Joe Lewis could only punch the ball away as far as Pittman who slotted home from the edgeof the box via a deflection off Andy Considine.
The home side went close again on 26minutes when Declan Gallagher gave away a free kick on the wing but McGinn’s whipped cross was straight at Kelly who gathered with ease. Scott Wright then sent in a low effort from the edge of the box three minutes later that whistled just past Kelly’s right-hand post.
May headed a McGinn over the bar on 31 minutes before Livi completed the turnaround two minutes later with a well-worked goal. Menga conceded possession with a fresh-air swipe but then did brilliantly to win it back before finding Pittman (who looked suspiciously offside). He, in turn, released the overlapping McMillan and he showed great composure to slot past Lewis into the far corner of the net.
Aberdeen finished the half strongly and peppered the Livi box with crosses from both sides but none were able to cause any problems as the Lions took a one-goal lead into the interval.
Half-time: Aberdeen 1-2 Livingston
Dons boss Derek McInnes made a change at the break as Connor McLennan replaced Wright and the hosts made a storming start to the second half, Cosgrove going close to an equaliser within two minutes of the restart as he saw a low drive deflected wide for a corner that Livi were able to clear.
A couple of set pieces provided catching practice for Kelly before Cosgrove went close again, heading McLennan’s cross over the bar. May then got in behind the Livi defence on 54 minutes and cut the ball back for McGinn but his effort was straight at Kelly.
The pressure on the Lions rearguard was building and it eventually tolled on 57 minutes as the Dons drew level when McLennan, who had been a huge influence on proceedings since coming on, sent in a low cross from the right for Cosgrove to fire a first-time effort past Kelly off the underside of the bar.
Livi made a double change before the game restarted, sending on Lawless and Scott Robinson for Burns and Keaghan Jacobs, but it did little to change the flow of the game and there was a huge let-off for the Lions, and McMillan in particular, on 63 minutes as May took advantage of a lapse in concentration to pinch possession in the box and crossf or Considine but he headed wide from close range when he perhaps should hav escored.
There was another let-off of sorts for the Lions a minute later as Cosgrove went down in the box under pressure from Pittman. It looked as though referee Craig Thomson was going to point to the spot but instead chose to book the big striker for diving.
Livi were struggling to get out of their own half and a rare venture saw Halkett head a free kick from Lawless wide on 65 minutes but the flag was up for offside in any event. The Dons were soon back on the offensive and May ought to have done better when he showed great skill to get through one-on-one with Kelly but could only shoot straight at the Livi stopper. Livi then made their final change on 68 minutes as Jack Hamilton came on for Menga.
The Livi goal was under siege now and the home side went close again on 74 minutes when a deep cross from McGinn found McKenna at the back post but his volley was straight at Kelly. Pittman,Shaun Byrne and Alan Lithgow all then made heroic blocks to keep the Dons at bay before Ferguson got on the end of McGinn’s corner but fluffed his effort wide. The Dons made a change three minutes from time as Bruce Anderson came on for May.
As the clock ticked past 90 minutes the Livi defence was holding firm but, just when it looked like they had done enough to secure a valuable point, the Dons won it in the second minute of injury time when McGinn swung in a deep corner to the back post and Kelly could only punch clear as far as Ferguson who hooked a fine finish over his head into the net to break the Lions’ hearts.
Dominic Ball replaced McGinn as the Dons looked to see out time but there was little chance of the crestfallen Livi players mounting any kind of recovery and the home side closed out the match comfortably.
Full-time: Aberdeen 3-2 Livingston
Aberdeen:Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, McKenna, McGinn (Ball 90), Wright (McLennan 45), Cosgrove, May (Anderson 87), Ferguson, Lowe
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Forrester,Gleeson, Wilson
Goals: McGinn (9), Cosgrove (57), Ferguson(90)
Livingston: Kelly, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, McMillan, Burns (Robinson 59), Jacobs (Lawless 59), Byrne, Pittman,Sibbald, Menga (Hamilton 68)
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Cadden, Hardie, Lawson
Goals: Pittman (12), McMillan (33)
Referee: Craig Thomson
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine