Luck was not on Livi’s side as they slipped to a frustrating 2-1 defeat to high-flying Motherwell at Fir Park.
After Chris Long’s strike had squirmed under Matija Sarkic to give the home side the lead, Stevie Lawless brought the Lions level from the penalty spot only for Allan Campbell to take advantage of a lucky deflection to win it late on for third-placed ‘Well.
Gary Holt made four changes to his starting line-up from the 2-2 draw at Hibs three days earlier as Ricki Lamie, Keaghan Jacobs, Steve Lawson and Scott Tiffoney came in for Jack McMillan, Lawless, Craig Sibbald and Scott Robinson. Scott Pittman kept his place in midfield to become just the third player to reach 200 first-team appearances for the Lions.
Livi started brightly and Jacobs tried his luck from the edge of the box on five minutes but saw his effort fly over the bar. Tiffoney then saw an effort deflected wide two minutes later after a goalmouth scramble saw the ball fall into his path.
The home side went close for the first time on 18 minutes when a corner was worked into the path of Liam Donnelly but his effort took a deflection that allowed Lamie to clear. The Lions then forced the first save of note two minutes later when Lawson did well to find Tiffoney and he showed quick feet to open up space before firing in a low strike that was well pushed away by Mark Gillespie.
Sarkic was called into action for the first time on 22 minutes when Jermaine Hylton fired in a low effort that was comfortably held by the Montenegrin stopper. Liam Polworth Liam Polworth then sent an effort high over the crossbar from 25 yards two minutes later before Jon Guthrie picked up a yellow card for a foul on Hylton.
The hosts went close again on 36 minutes when Long rifled in a effort that Sarkic did well to push away at his near post. A Jacobs free kick on the stroke of half time then caused some confusion in the ‘Well box before they were finally able to clear and keep the scores level at the break.
Half-time: Motherwell 0-0 Livingston
The Lions made the worst possible start to the second half as the home side broke the deadlock three minutes after the restart with a goal that Sarkic will not want to see again as a low effort from Long squirmed under the diving keeper and found its way into the bottom corner.
Former Livi man Declan Gallagher picked up a yellow card on 50 minutes for a foul on Tiffoney but Jacobs’ free kick had too much on it and Gillespie was able to gather comfortably. Another Jacobs free kick found Lamie at the back post six minutes later but his glancing header flew just wide. Lamie then headed a long ball into the path of Lawson who saw his effort deflected wide for a corner soon after.
Livi were handed the chance to draw level on 58 minutes when Tiffoney was brought down by Devante Cole and referee Euan Anderson pointed to the penalty spot. As soon as the spot kick was awarded, Lawless was summoned by the Livi bench and came on in place of Jacobs. He made his way straight to the spot and fired the kick high past Gillespie to level the scores.
The leveller lifted the Lions and Tiffoney went close soon after with a fine effort that Gillespie did well to push wide for a corner. Lawless then picked up a yellow card for a foul six minutes later.
Lawson and Tiffoney linked up well again on 71 minutes with the former Morton youngster firing a powerful low effort straight at Gillespie. Sherwin Seedorf then replaced Hylton three minutes later .
Livi were doing well to keep the hosts at bay but their luck deserted them eight minutes from time when a shot from the edge of the box deflected kindly into the path of Campbell and he slotted past Sarkic from close range.
Sibbald replaced Tiffoney five minutes from time in the Lions’ second change before they passed up a huge chance to draw level again three minutes later when the ball fell into the path of Lawson with only Gillespie to beat but he hesitated before getting his shot away which allowed Gillespie to get out and block his effort.
Livi continued to press but weren’t able to force another opportunity as the home side held on for the three points, leaving the Lions without a win at Fir Park in 17 years.
Full-time: Motherwell 2-1 Livingston
Motherwell: Gillespie, Grimshaw, Gallagher, Hartley, Carroll, Donnelly, Campbell, Polworth, Cole (Scott 65), Long (Mugabi 84), Hylton (Seedorf 75)
Subs Not Used: Carson, Tait, Maguire, Ilic
Goals: Long (47), Campbell (83)
Livingston: Sarkic, Odoffin, Lithgow, Guthrie, Lamie, Bartley, Crawford, Lawson, Pittman, Jacobs (Lawless 59), Tiffoney
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Sibbald, Robinson, McMillan, Stobbs
Goals: Lawless (60 pen)
Referee: Euan Anderson
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine