The Lions suffered a sickening late blow as they conceded a last-minute equaliser to Motherwell to miss out on a top six berth.
Livingston started strongly, knowing that only a victory would secure them a spot in the top six. Alan Forrest, as ever, did brilliantly down the left to jink his way into a shooting opportunity. He beat three Well defenders before trying his luck from just outside the area, but his effort was deflected wide.
The winger was involved again on 26 minutes as he combined with Scott Pittman in the middle of the park. Forrest played a lovely through ball in behind the Motherwell defence, which Jake Carroll was unable to deal with. Odin Bailey raced onto the pass and poked the ball through the legs of the onrushing Liam Kelly to put the Lions 1-0 in front.
Livi continued their domination into the second half but Motherwell, who had soaked up pressure well, hit on the counter attack and almost levelled. Conor Shields’ cross was poorly dealt with by Ayo Obileye, and Kevin van Veen latched onto the clearance inside the area. The Dutchman’s strike smashed the post, but luckily rebounded for Max Stryjek who grasped the ball despite claims that the ball had gone over the line.
David Martindale’s side continued to push for a second though, and they got their just rewards on 58 minutes. Bailey’s strike was blocked and the ball fell to Nicky Devlin who found Forrest unmarked on the edge of the box. The winger took a touch to set himself, and smashed an unstoppable low drive beyond Kelly to double Livi’s advantage, sparking jubilant celebrations amongst the home supporters.
The Lions were playing some of their best football of the whole year, and should have had a third moments later. Bailey found Forrest again, but this time the winger dragged his shot wide of the post.
With results comfortably going their way, Livingston knew that if they held on they would be playing in the top six after the split for the third season in a row. As it stood, Motherwell occupied a place in the bottom six. What happened next was a remarkable turn of events.
A poor cross hit Bevis Mugabi and it appeared to be danger over as the ball rolled away from the box. Callum Slattery had other ideas as he sprinted to meet it, and connected sweetly with a 25-yard strike which flew into the bottom corner to get one back for the visitors, giving them hope of a comeback with 18 minutes to play.
Deep, deep into stoppage time, the Steelmen were awarded a corner which prompted them to fill the box with one last push for an equaliser. Liam Kelly even joined the attack. Carroll’s delivery was a good one, and it landed perfectly for Bevis Mugabi who swung a boot at it but saw his effort smash the woodwork. But, the rebound fell to Ricki Lamie who had the quickest reactions as he headed home from close range to send the away fans into pandemonium.
It was a crushing blow from the former Livi defender, who sent his side into the top six with effectively the last kick of the ball, which subsequently saw the Lions drop into the bottom six.
Match Report: Calum Brown
Livingston: Stryjek, Obileye, Devlin, Fitzwater, Penrice (Lewis 20), Kelly ▊, Holt, Pittman (Soto 89), Bailey (Shinnie 76), Nouble, Forrest (Boyes, 76)
Subs not used: Omeonga, Sibbald, Montano, McMillan, Konovalov
Goals: Bailey (26), Forrest (58)
Motherwell: Kelly, Mugabi, Carroll (Woolery 67), Johansen ▊, Lamie, Goss, Cornelius (O’Hara 45), Slattery ▊ (Ojala 89), Efford (Tierney 67), Shields, Van Veen (Donnelly, 89)
Subs not used: Fox, Amaluzor, Grimshaw, Shaw
Goals: Slattery (72), Lamie (90)
Referee: Don Robertson