Livi were made to pay for an early red card as St Mirren came from behind to claim a huge three points in their fight against relegation at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
The Lions were reduced to ten men on 17 minutes when Craig Halkett saw red for a foul on Brad Lyons but took an unlikely lead through Scott Robinson three minutes later. Paul McGinn drew the Buddies level shortly after before quickfire strikes from Danny Mullen and Simeon Jackson gave Oran Kearney’s side all three points.
Gary Holt made three changes to his Livi side from the gallant goalless draw at Celtic Park as he brought in Robinson, Keaghan Jacobs and Ryan Hardie for Shaun Byrne, Ricki Lamie and Dolly Menga, all of whom were named among the substitutes.
The Lions made a lively start and came close inside a minute when a corner found its way to Keaghan Jacobs at the edge of the box but he fired just wide. They went close again six minutes later when Robinson released Hardie down the left before bursting into the box to get on the end of his cut back but he fizzed his effort inches wide.
Livi’s strong start was blunted when they found themselves reduced to ten men on 17 minutes when Halkett was adjudged to have denied Brad Lyons a goalscoring opportunity when he brought the Saints man down around 25 yards from goal on the left hand side, Willie Collum going straight to his top pocket to produce the red card.
The Lions didn’t seem too adversely affected by the loss of their captain as they broke the deadlock barely three minutes later with a superbly worked goal as Robinson slipped in Lawless on the right and his cut back took Saints keeper Vaclav Hladky completely out of the game and left Robinson with a simple task to slot into the empty net.
Livi then took the opportunity to shore up their back line as Hakeem Odoffin came on for Lawless but it had little effect as the visitors drew level on 26 minutes when McGinn got in behind the defenders and saw his low effort deflected in at the near post.
The Lions responded well to losing the equaliser and went close to restoring the lead on 35 minutes when Declan Gallagher released Hardie and his effort looked to have deflected perfectly to Scott Pittman but for a superb last-ditch challenge that denied the Livi man a tap in. Hardie then saw a curling effort bravely blocked by the midriff of Mihai Popescu moments later.
The final chance of the half went to the visitors as Mullen and Anders Dreyer linked up well before the ex-Livi man curled an effort straight at Kelly as the teams went in at the break all square.
Half-time: Livingston 1-1 St Mirren
The visitors made a change at the interval as Gary McKenzie was replaced by Jackson and they made a bright start to the second half, Mullen heading straight at Kelly within a minute of the restart. Jackson then flicked Popescu’s cross into Kelly arms a minute later although the offside flag was up in any event.
The Buddies should have taken the lead on 50 minutes when Jackson was played clean through but Kelly was out smartly to make a superb point-blank save before Gallagher cleared the follow-up. Ethan Erhahon then picked up the first yellow card of the game a minute later after catching Robinson on the ankle with a reckless challenge. Livi made their second change at that point, sending on Lamie for Craig Sibbald.
Livi were finding it tougher to get up the field in the second half but had a sight of goal on 59 minutes when Hardie wriggled into space before trying his luck from 20 yards but his effort trundled harmlessly wide. Lyons then headed Dreyer’s corner over the bar at the end before he made his way off to be replaced by Kyle McAllister as the visitors made their second change.
The Lions replaced Hardie with Menga in their final change on 72 minutes before the visitors made their last switch four minutes later, Kyle Magennis replacing Erhahon. Magennis almost made an instant impact as he linked up well with Dreyer before firing in a low effort that was well saved by Kelly at his near post.
The visitors’ pressure had been building as the half wore on and they were finally rewarded on 77 minutes when Mullen gathered possession 20 yards before turning and firing a terrific low effort past Kelly to give Oran Kearney’s side a priceless lead. The game was over barely a minute later as the Buddies grabbed a third when Dreyer’s effort was fumbled by Kelly and Jackson was on hand to slot home the rebound.
Livi came close to pulling one back on 88 minutes when, after Menga was brought down 25 yards out, Jacobs curled the resulting free kick inches over the bar before Mullen curled an effort high over the bar at the other end after being slipped in by Dreyer as the visitors held on to secure all three points.
Full-time: Livingston 1-3 St Mirren
Livingston: Kelly, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Sibbald (Lamie 52), Lawless (Odoffin 23), Jacobs, Lawson, Pittman, Robinson, Hardie (Menga 73)
Subs not used: Stewart, Byrne, De Vita, Tiffoney
Goals: Robinson (20)
St Mirren: Hladky, P.McGinn, S.McGinn, MacKenzie (Jackson 45), Flynn, Dreyer (McAllister 63), Lyons, Baird, Popescu, Mullen, Erhahon (Magennis 76)
Subs not used: Muzek, Hodson, Holmes, Ferdinand
Goals: P.McGinn (26), Mullen (78), Jackson (80)
Referee: Willie Collum
Match Report: Andy Crawford