A brave effort from ten-man Livi wasn’t enough to prevent Dundee coming from behind to claim all three points at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Despite being reduced to ten men after just 14 minutes, the Lions took a half-time lead through Craig Halkett but second-half goals from Andrew Nelson and Scott Wright turned the match around for Jim McIntyre’s side.
Gary Holt made two changes to the starting line-up from the goalless draw at Hearts as Keaghan Jacobs and Scott Robinson came in for Steve Lawson and Stevie Lawless as the Lions searched for their first win – and goal – of 2019.
It was the visitors who had the first half-chance inside two minutes when Nelson fired over the bar from 25 yards before Livi forced the first save as Hakeem Odoffin’s cross was met by Scott Pittman at the far post but his header was straight at Seny Dieng.
The visitors should have taken the lead on 10 minutes when Nelson was found unmarked six yards out but could only send his header over the bar. Ricki Lamie then almost grabbed a fortuitous opener when his cross came crashing back off the post.
Livi were reduced to ten men on 14 minutes when, despite having waved play on after a tackle in midfield, referee Greg Aitken pulled the game back on the instruction of fourth official John Beaton and showed Shaun Byrne a straight red card.
The Lions were unperturbed by the loss of a man, though, and broke the deadlock five minutes later when Alan Lithgow’s long throw was flicked on by Declan Gallagher and Halkett was on hand to fire home at the back post.
Martin Woods tried his luck with a free kick from 25 yards on the half hour but saw his effort fly high over the bar before Wright saw his effort do the same five minutes later. Woods then had another go from distance on 37 minutes but this time saw his effort sail well wide. Andy Dales then sent his effort wide as Livi resolutely held on to take their one-goal lead in at the interval.
Half-time: Livingston 1-0 Dundee
Livi started the second half brightly and came close to a second on 47 minutes when Ryan Hardie crosses for Pittman and he teed up Robinson but his shot was straight at Dieng. Robinson then fired another effort straight at Dieng after latching on to a ball over the top moments later before Dundee sent on Paul McGowan in place of Andreas Hadenius.
Dundee then went close on 51 minutes when James Horsfield fired a low ball across the face of goal for Dales but he could only fire over the bar from close range. The visitors weren’t to be denied, though, and drew level two minutes later when Wright’s corner was met by Nelson and he glanced a header past Liam Kelly from close range.
The Lions made their first change four minutes later as Lawson came on for Odoffin with the visitors also turning to the bench, sending on Kenny Miller in place of Nelson. Livi then made a second switch a minute later, Chris Erskine coming on for Robinson.
Dundee came close to taking the lead on the hour mark when McGowan was played through but saw his volleyed effort whistle just wide.
Livi continued to pose a threat despite their one-man disadvantage and went close to regaining the lead on 65 minutes when Pittman fed Hardie and he cut inside before curling an effort just wide. Lithgow then headed a Jacobs corner well wide three minutes later.
Gary Holt made his final change on 74 minutes when Lawless replaced Hardie before Jesse Curran came on for Dales a minute later in the visitors’ final switch. Livi then went close again on 76 minutes when Gallagher controlled Lithgow’s long throw at the near post and fired a volley just over the bar.
There was a huge moment of controversy on 77 minutes when Lawless was clearly brought down in the box by a clumsy challenge from Curran but referee Greg Aitken, who had shown four of the Lions’ last five red cards, somehow managed to not only wave away the appeals but show Lawless a yellow card for simulation.
Livi’s frustration was compounded six minutes later when, after Jacobs had picked up a yellow card for a foul, Wright stepped up to curl a sublime effort past Kelly from 25 yards.
Livi had one final chance to snatch a point in injury time but were denied by a fine double save from Dieng, who first kept out a low effort from Halkett before springing up to deny Erskine from the rebound, as they suffered a ninth game without a win in all competitions.
Full-time: Livingston 1-2 Dundee
Livingston: Kelly, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Lamie, Odoffin (Lawson 57), Byrne, Pittman, Jacobs Robinson (Erskine 58), Hardie (Lawless 74)
Subs not used: Stewart, Brown, Wylde, Sibbald
Goals: Halkett (18)
Dundee: Dieng, Ralph, Woods, Kusunga, Wright, R.McGowan, Dales (Curran 75), Nelson (Miller 58), Curran, Hadenius (P.McGowan 49), Horsfield
Subs not used: Parish, O’Dea, O’Sullivan, Robson
Goals: Nelson (54), Wright (83)
Referee: Greig Aitken
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine