Livi moved back into the top half of the Ladbrokes Premiership as they came from behind to claim a second win over St Mirren this season at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
After falling behind to Alfie Jones’header nine minutes before half-time, the Lions roared back through goals from Scott Pittman, Ryan Hardie and Craig Sibbald to claim a crucial three points and move back above Aberdeen into sixth place.
Gary Holt made two changes from the defeat to Kilmarnock as Hardie came in for his first start since May along with Keaghan Jacobs. Nicky Cadden and Steve Lawson dropped to the bench. The Lions started strongly and Hardie was quick to threaten, his attempted effort from the edge of the box charged down before Stevie Lawless gathered the loose ball and curled his effort just over the bar.
The visitors were forced to make a change inside ten minutes as Paul McGinn came off worst in an aerial challenge with Craig Halkett and had to be replaced by Matty Willock. Halkett was involved again six minutes later as he got in a crucial block from Adam Hammill’s cross before Ricki Lamie and Shaun Byrne combined to clear the resulting corner.
Livi went close on 24 minutes when Declan Gallagher controlled a long throw from Alan Lithgow before hooking an effort over his head that dropped a yard wide of the far post. Gallagher and Lawless then combined for the latter to tee up Dolly Menga who saw his effort blocked before Lithgow headed an effort wide from Jacobs’ corner.
The Lions were in the ascendancy but were left shell-shocked when the visitors took the lead on 36 minutes. Ryan Edwards won a free kick right on the touchline and Hammill’s cross found Jones who headed across goal past Kelly.
Livi were forced into a change moments before the interval as Lamie took a knee to the kidneys in challenging for a high ball and, despite trying to carry on, he was unable to and Jack McMillan came on to replace him. The Lions had a chance on the stoke of half-time as Menga tried his luck from the edge of the box but Danny Rogers saved comfortably to ensure the Buddies went in at the break in front.
Half-time: Livingston 0-1 St Mirren
The Lions made a dream start to the second half as they drew level within four minutes of the restart when Gallagher cut inside before slipping in Pittman who fired a low effort past Rogers into the far corner of the net for his first goal since grabbing the winner against Hibs in September.
The Saints looked for an instant response and Hammill, fresh from his 50-yard stunner at Easter Road on Wednesday, tried his luck from slightly closer in but his free kick well saved by Kelly low to his right.
Livi looked a different team from their lethargic first half showing and threatened again on 58 minutes when Menga did brilliantly down the right before firing in a low cross that was cleared as far as Byrne. His volley was blocked before Jacobs’ first-time strike swerved wide of goal.
Six minutes later the turnaround was completed for the Lions as Hardie made a dream return to the starting line-up, slamming an effort high into the net from close range after Pittman’s low shot had been deflected into his path.That proved to be Hardie’s last act as he made his way off to be replaced by Jack Hamilton.
It was almost three for Livi with 20 minutes to play as Rogers could only push a corner away as far as McMillan but his looping header cannoned back off the crossbar into the Buddies’ keeper’s grateful arms. Matty Willock picked up the first yellow card of the game shortly after for a heavy challenge on Jacobs.
Livi made their final change on 74 minutes as Menga was replaced by Sibbald before Jacobs came close to a spectacular third when he latched on to Rogers’ fluffed clearance and sent in a first time effort from 45 yards that dropped only a few yards wide of the post.Gallagher then picked up a booking three minutes later for a foul on Hammill.
The points were finally sealed for Livi two minutes from time as Hamilton fed Pittman and, when his low strike was parried by Rogers, Sibbald was hand to tap home from six yards and round off a second home win in a row for the Lions.
Full-time: Livingston 3-1 St Mirren
Livingston: Kelly, Gallagher, Halkett, Lithgow, Lamie (McMillan 45), Lawless, Byrne, Pittman, Jacobs, Menga (Sibbald 74),Hardie (Hamilton 68)
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Cadden, Burns, Lawson
Goals: Pittman (50), Hardie (64), Sibbald (88)
St Mirren: Rogers, P.McGinn (Willock 10),Ferdinand (Smith 71), Jones, Baird,Erhahon, Hodson, S.McGinn, Edwards, Hammill, Jackson
Subs Not Used: Lyness, Eckersley, MacPherson, McShane, Breadner
Goals: Jones (36)
Referee: Andrew Dallas
Match report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine