Livingston’s top six hopes were dashed as they fell to a tame 2-0 defeat at Dundee United.
Jamie McGrath’s long-range strike on 17 minutes as the difference in a rather timid first-half before Steven Fletcher wrapped things up five minutes from time.
Tannadice had been a happy hunting ground for the Lions in recent seasons, having won four of their last five visits, and they went into the clash knowing a win was needed to squeeze back into the top six on the final day before the split. Even that, though, might not have been enough as they needed either St Mirren to lose at home to Kilmarnock or Hibs to drop points at McDiarmid Park against managerless St Johnstone.
Both of those things happened – but Livi failed to get going and offered little.
David Martindale named an unchanged starting line-up from the won that clinched a 2-0 win last weekend that ultimately spelled the end for Callum Davidson as St Johnstone gaffer. Centre-back Tom Parkes was named in the squad for the first time since December 2021 following a knee injury.
It was a slow and measured start from both sides with each team seemingly content with growing into the contest.
Indeed, McGrath’s piledriver from 25 yards was the first effort of note in the clash. The Irishman was afforded far too much room as he took a touch to steady himself before firing beyond the reach of Shamal George from distance.
The keeper had to be at his best just five minutes later to turn an Ilmari Niskanen effort wide at his near post to keep the visitors in the contest while the Lions offered little going forward. Stephen Kelly’s free-kick being blazed over the bar on the stroke of half-time pretty much summed up the opening 45 minutes for the visitors.
Having shown little urgency before the break, the Lions did at least up the tempo after it and went close to an equaliser on 49 minutes when Steven Bradley’s angled drive went wide while Andrew Shinnie tried his luck from distance with Mark Birighitti fumbling the attempt but scooping it up before a Livi player was able to take full advantage.
In between those two attempts, United should have doubled their lead as Aziz Behich teed up the unmarked Steven Fletcher who uncharacteristically showed a lack of composure in blazing over.
Livi chucked everything forward in a bid to drag themselves back into the contest but while balls were being flung into the danger area, it didn’t actually turn into any chances of note with the game being well and truly over five minutes from time as Kai Fotheringham stole possession from Cristian Montano with virtually every Livi player up the park. He duly teed up Fletcher to slam beyond George and put a dagger in Livi’s season.
Match Report: Callum Carson (Daily Record)
Dundee Utd: Birighitti, McMann, Mulgrew, Niskanen, Fletcher ©️, Sibbald, Behich, McGrath (Fotheringham 31 (Edwards 88)), Freeman, Harkes ▊, Ayina ▊
Subs not used: Newman, Graham, Djoum, Anaku, Cudjoe, Thomson, MacLeod
Goals: McGrath (17), Fletcher (85)
Livingston: George, Devlin ©️, Fitzwater, Boyes, Montaño, Holt, Shinnie ▊ (Pittman 77), St.Kelly (Guthrie 72), Bradley (Penrice 72 ▊), Nouble, Anderson
Subs not used: Hamilton, Brandon, de Lucas, Parkes, Sn.Kelly, Bahamboula
Referee: Kevin Clancy