Livi produced a rousing fightback from two goals down but ultimately had to settle for a share of the spoils in a see-saw encounter at the HopeCBD Stadium.
After goals from George Oakley and Dougie Imrie either side of the interval had given Accies a commanding lead, the Lions roared back to take the lead through a Scott Pittman double either side of Steve Lawson’s first goal for the club but Aaron McGowan struck in the final minute to ensure the points were shared.
Gary Holt made just one enforced change from the defeat to St Mirren as Hakeem Odoffin replaced the suspended Craig Halkett with Alan Lithgow taking the captain’s armband. There was a welcome sight among the Livi substitutes as Lee Miller returned to the matchday squad for the first time since late December.
Unsurprisingly, given their greater need for the points as they battle relegation, it was the hosts who made the livelier start and went close inside three minutes when McGowan’s cross from the right was met by Oakley but he sent his header over the bar. McGowan then headed Tony Andreu’s corner over two minutes later.
Ex-Livi man Andreu fired an effort from the edge of the box that seemed to swerve in the air and Kelly did well to punch it over for a corner. The Livi keeper then found Lawson with a fine kick upfield but, after showing great control, his shot was well saved by Ryan Fulton.
Andreu tried to catch Kelly out on 15 minutes when he went for goal from a free kick out on the wing but his effort found the side netting. Marius Ogkmpoe then headed straight at Kelly six minutes later after being picked out by McGowan. At the other end, Lithgow tried his luck from fully 30 yards and saw his effort whistle only just over the crossbar.
After Andreu had curled a free kick wildly off target, Kelly pulled off a superb save on 27 minutes when Oakley released Ogkmpoe and he attempted an angled lob that looked set to dip into the net only for Kelly to dive backwards and tip it wide. The Livi stopper came to the rescue again moments later when Imrie’s cross was met by Darian MacKinnon and his bullet header was brilliantly turned wide by Kelly.
Accies were enjoying a good spell now and Andreu split the Lions defence to find McGowan on 33 minutes and his cross looked to have given Ogkmpoe a tap in only for Declan Gallagher to make a superb goal-saving block. The home side weren’t to be denied, though, and broke the deadlock six minutes later when the Livi defence made a meal of dealing with a corner, leaving Oakley with a simple task to fire home from close range and put Accies in front at the break.
Half-time: Hamilton Academical 1-0 Livingston
Accies came out looking to build on their lead and were given a perfect chance to do just that within two minutes of the restart when they were awarded a penalty after Odoffin felled Ogkmpoe. Imrie stepped up and sent Kelly the wrong way from the spot.
The Lions made their first change on 54 minutes when Dolly Menga came on for Craig Sibbald, and they were back in the game three minutes later when Ryan Hardie laid the ball off for Pittman and he expertly found the bottom corner from just inside the box.
After Imrie picked up a yellow card for a foul on Lawson, the home side made their first change on 65 minutes when MacKinnon was replaced by Mickel Miller before Livi followed suit a minute later, Miller coming on for Hardie. The Lions then drew level two minutes later when fine build-up play saw Lawson sent clean through and he drove into the box before coolly slotting across Fulton into the far corner of the net.
Suddenly the Lions were rampant and they stormed into the lead on 72 minutes when Menga showed sublime footwork to beat his man on the wing before dinking a cross to the far post for Pittman to volley home with the aid of a slight deflection. Livi should have had a fourth three minutes later as Gallagher headed wide from close range.
Having been in total control, Accies suddenly found themselves in danger of slipping closer to the danger zone and made their final two changes as they searched for an equaliser as Ogkmpoe and Oakley were replaced by Steve Davies and Lewis Smith. Smith was quickly into the action, although not in the way Brian Rice had in mind as he picked up a yellow card for a foul on Pittman.
Livi made their final change four minutes from time, sending on Scott Tiffoney for Scott Robinson, before Andreu fired high over the bar from the edge of the box two minutes later.
Accies piled on the pressure in the closing stages and were rewarded in the final minute as they rescued a point when McGowan fired home from close range after Kelly had kept out Andreu’s header. The Lions had a half-hearted late penalty shout waved away after Tiffoney went down as the two sides were forced to settle for a point.
Full-time: Hamilton Academical 3-3 Livingston
Hamilton: Fulton, McGowan, McMann, Gordon, Imrie, Oakley (L.Smith 80), Gogic, MacKinnon (Miller 66), Andreu, Martin, Ogboe (Davies 76)
Subs Not Used: Marsden, McMillan, Mimnaugh, Hamilton
Goals: Oakley (40), Imrie (47 pen), McGowan (90)
Livingston: Kelly, Jacobs, Lithgow, Odoffin, Gallagher, Lawson, Pittman, Sibbald (Menga 54), Robinson (Tiffoney 87), Lawless, Hardie (Miller 67)
Subs Not Used: Stewart, De Vita, Lamie, Byrne
Goals: Pittman (57 & 71), Lawson (67)
Referee: Greg Aitken
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine