Livi suffered their first defeat in 18 games as ten-man St Mirren left West Lothian with all three points, maintaining their record of winning every match played between the two sides at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
After Craig Halkett had scored at both ends, Gary Irvine was shown a straight red card for a two-footed lunge on Dale Carrick but the Lions couldn’t take advantage of the extra man as Gavin Reilly’s double gave Jack Ross’ side the victory.
David Hopkin made four changes to his side from the 2-0 Irn Bru Cup win at Morton as Declan Gallagher, Shaun Byrne, Danny Mullen and Dale Carrick came in for Alan Lithgow, Matthew Knox, Nicky Cadden and Nikolay Todorov. Keaghan Jacobs returned to the bench having missed the last two games through injury.
The visitors forced the first chance inside two minutes when Lewis Morgan found space at the edge of the box and fired in a powerful effort that stung the palms of Alexander. Livi then went up the other end and Mullen forced a good save out of Craig Samson, although the offside flag was up anyway.
The deadlock was broken on 10 minutes as the visitors took the lead in fortuitous fashion when Stephen McGinn’s mishit shot deflected off Halkett and looped over the helpless Alexander into the net. Livi responded well and Jackson Longridge’s ball in was headed away by Adam Eckersley but fell to Carrick, who took a touch before firing an effort over the bar.
The Lions came within a whisker of equalising on 14 minutes when Raffaele De Vita’s cross from the left was met by Pittman and his header was netbound until Samson sprung to his left and made a fine fingertip save. They weren’t to be denied, though, and drew level moments later when Josh Mullin’s corner was met by Halkett and he bulleted a header home to make amends for his earlier own goal.
The game fell into a lull after that but exploded back into life on 34 minutes when Irvine scythed down Carrick, leaving ref Craig Thomson with little alternative but to produce a red card. Mullin’s resulting free kick was met by Gallagher at the far post but his first-time effort flew wide.
Mullin produced another tremendous delivery soon after, this time finding Mullen at the near post but his attempt was blocked for a corner. He was at it again five minutes later, this time picking out De Vita at the back post but his header lacked power and Samson was able to gather comfortably.
Livi came close again on the stroke of half time as Joe Thomson picked up the ball 30 yards out and let fly with a superb strike that was parried by Samson. The resulting corner was headed down by De Vita for Carrick but he couldn’t get a shot and the teams went in at the break all square.
Half-time: Livingston 1-1 St Mirren
Livi made a lively start to the second half and Mullen tried his luck from distance on 47 minutes, his shot was deflected and fell for Mullin at the back post but his header across goal was cleared for a corner. A Gallagher cross was then sent back across goal by De Vita causing a bit of a scramble in the Saints box before they were able to clear.
Despite the Lions’ positive start, it was the ten-man visitors who regained the lead on 52 minutes when Alexander could only push Cammy Smith’s shot back out and Reilly was on hand to turn the rebound home.
Livi came close to equalising two minutes later when De Vita’s left-wing cross was met by Thomson at the near post but his diving header flew just over. Gallagher cut in from the right a minute later and curled in a low shot but it was too close to Samson who saved comfortably. Carrick then latched on to an underhit back pass but no one could latch on to his cut back.
Lions fell further behind on the hour mark as poor defending left Stelios Demetriou free at the back post and he headed the ball back across goal for Reilly to fire home from a tight angle. David Hopkin responding with his first change, sending Cadden on for De Vita.
It was difficult to tell who was a man down as St Mirren swarmed forward at every opportunity, Morgan the next to try his luck with a long range effort that flew well wide. Livi made their second change on 67 minutes as Dylan Mackin came on for Byrne while the visitors sent on John Sutton for two-goal hero Reilly.
Then came a moment of some controversy as Mullen picked up a yellow card for a foul on Demetriou before St Mirren boss Jack Ross was sent to the stand for (correctly) pointing out to ref Thomson that the Cypriot didn’t have to go off the field after receiving treatment as Mullen had been booked for the foul that caused the knock.
A final Livi change on 73 minutes saw Todorov replace Carrick before a frustrating spell saw the Lions pepper the Buddies’ box with high balls without one dropping the right way in the box. The visitors made their second change on 76 minutes as Jordan Kirkpatrick came on for Smith and his first act was to go into the referee’s book for a foul on Mullin.
Mullen sent an effort high over the bar from 25 yards as Livi’s frustrations grew before Thomson was booked for a late challenge on Ian McShane. With Livi committing men forward, the visitors were looking dangerous on the counter attack and a quick break from Morgan ended with him trying to place a low shot past Alexander but Halkett was on hand to block.
The Lions came close to pulling one back on 88 minutes when Cadden teed up Todorov but his first-time effort crashed back off the crossbar with Samson well beaten. Another Cadden cross dropped for Thomson who may have been impeded as he looked to get a shot away but the ref was unmoved and the visitors were able to clear.
Another quick break from the Buddies saw Morgan’s cross headed back across goal by Kirkpatrick but there were no takers and Halkett cleared. Livi forced a final chance in injury time but it summed up their afternoon as Mullin curled a free kick well over the bar from 20 yards.
The final whistle came soon after, ending Livi’s long unbeaten run and giving the visitors a sixth win out of six visits to West Lothian.
Full-time: Livingston 1-3 St Mirren
Livingston: Alexander, Longridge, Byrne (Mackin 66), Mullin, Pittman, Mullen, Carrick (Todorov 72), Thomson, De Vita (Cadden 63), Halkett, Gallagher
Subs not used: Maley, Penrice, Jacobs, Knox
Goals: Halkett (15)
St Mirren: Samson, Demetriou, Irvine, McGinn, Buchanan, Morgan, Smith, McShane, Reilly (Sutton 68), Smith (Kirkpatrick 74), Eckersley
Subs not used: Stewart, Duffy, Stewart, Whyte, O’Keefe
Goals: Halkett OG (9), Reilly (51 & 60)
Referee: Craig Thomson
Match Report: Andy Crawford