St Johnstone 1-1 Livingston

An outrageous goal from captain Craig Halkett secured Livi a hard-fought point against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park to keep alive their slim hopes of finishing seventh in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

After Michael O’Halloran has fired the home side into an early lead, Halkett thundered home an astonishing strike from fully 45 yards six minutes from time to give Gary Holt’s side a share of the spoils.

The Lions boss rang the changes after the 3-3 draw at Hamilton, handing a club – and top-flight – debut to keeper Ross Stewart. Also coming into the side were Halkett, Lee Miller, Ricki Lamie, Shaun Byrne and Dolly Menga. Liam Kelly, Ryan Hardie, Alan Lithgow, Keaghan Jacobs, Craig Sibbald and Scott Robinson all dropped out with only Robinson missing out on a place on the bench.

It was Livi who had the first chance of the game inside three minutes when Steve Lawson’s free kick found Lamie but he sent his header wide. The home side would take full advantage as they took the lead barely a minute later when O’Halloran got in behind the Lions defence and fired a fierce effort into the far corner of the net.

Livi came close to an equaliser on nine minutes as Scott Pittman and Stevie Lawless linked up well before the latter fired in a fine strike that looked to be flying into the top corner only for Zander Clark to get across and push his effort behind.

Miller was in receipt of some harsh treatment from the Saints defence that referee David Munro seemed unwilling to do anything about as Livi struggled to get a foothold in the game. The home side almost doubled their lead on 29 minutes as Lamie blocked Murray Davidson’s cut back and Chris Kane headed the resulting corner from Matty Kennedy wide. Richard Foster then fired a speculative effort high over the bar from 25 yards.

Kennedy fired over from a similar distance on 33 minutes before seeing a free kick blocked by the Livi wall moments later as the teams went in at the interval with the home side just the one goal in front.

Full-time: St Johnstone 1-0 Livingston

The home side knew a victory would all-but secure seventh spot and came close to doubling their lead two minutes after the restart when Kane got in behind Lamie but Stewart was out quickly to make a fine save.

Livi screamed for a penalty on 50 minutes when Halkett was brought down in the box but the referee waved the claims away. Halkett then picked up a yellow card for a foul on Scott Tanser. Menga then found Pittman who tried to tee up Lawless but his cut back was blocked and Clark was able to gather.

Halkett was heavily involved in the early part of the half and went close to equalising on 56 minutes when, after Lawless was fouled 25 yards out, the Livi captain stepped up and curled in a fine free kick that was brilliantly kept out by Clark. Menga then crossed for Miller to tee up Lawless seven minutes later but his effort flew high over the bar.

The home side were struggling to exert themselves as much as in the first half but did come close to a second on 66 minutes when, after a couple of corners were dealt with by the Livi defence, Ross Callachan volleyed just wide. Livi then made their first change four minutes later when Jacobs came on for Byrne.

Jacobs was quickly involved as his 72nd-minute free kick fell to Halkett who teed up Menga for a strike that was deflected wide for a corner that the hosts we’re able to clear. Gary Holt then made his second change a minute later, sending on Scott Tiffoney for Miller.

The home side saw another chance go to waste on 76 minutes when the ball fell to Davidson in the box but his close-range effort was well kept out by the feet of Stewart. At the other end, Jacobs fired in a fine long-range effort that Clark was able to parry away. Livi’s Final change then saw Hardie replace Lawson.

Hakeem Odoffin came close to his first Lions goal on 82 minutes with a smart lobbed effort from the edge of the box that dropped just over the bar. Then came one of the all-time great Livi goals as the ball was cleared to Halkett just inside the Saints half and he took a touch before unleashing a simply remarkable strike that fizzed through the crowded penalty box and nestled in the bottom corner, leaving Clark utterly helpless.

Declan Gallagher picked up a late yellow card for a foul out on the wing as Livi comfortably held on to secure a fourth consecutive away draw.

Full-time: St Johnstone 1-1 Livingston

St Johnstone: Clark, Foster, Tanser, Kerr, Gordon, Davidson, Craig, Callachan (Hendry 85), O’Halloran, Kennedy, Kane
Subs Not Used: Bell, Alston, Shaughnessy, Swanson, Easton, Goss
Goals: O’Halloran (4)

Livingston: Stewart, Lamie, Halkett, Odoffin, Gallagher, Lawson (Hardie 79), Pittman, Byrne (Jacobs 70), Menga, Lawless, Miller (Tiffoney 73)
Subs Not Used: Kelly, De Vita, Sibbald, Lithgow
Goals: Halkett (84)

Referee: David Munro
Att: 2,222
Match Report: Andy Crawford

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