St Johnstone 1-2 Livingston

It was three wins from three for interim manager David Martindale as second half goals from Jon Guthrie and substitute Scott Robinson sealed a fantastic three points at McDiarmid Park.

The hosts came into this one on the back of an 11 game unbeaten run with the latest game of that run coming in a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park the weekend previous. Without a win away to St Johnstone since 2007, the odds weren’t looking great for the Lions but having picked up back to back wins and clean sheets in the previous two fixtures, there was a confidence about the men in black which was great to see return.

The hosts did enjoy the majority of possession early in the game without testing goalkeeper Max Stryjek. Yet it would be the Lions who almost opened the scoring after Josh Mullin’s cross found Scott Pittman at the near post, but the midfielder was denied by a sliding challenge from Saints defender Liam Gordon.

In a first half lacking in any real chances and attacking quality, Chris Kane came closest with a glancing a header from an in swinging David Wotherspoon corner which crashed off the bar, before Wotherspoon tried his luck with a curling long-range shot which didn’t trouble Stryjek.

However, the game sparked into life early in the second half as the Lions took the lead. A foul on Serrano allowed Mullin a chance to whip a deep free-kick into the box which found Jon Guthrie and the big, bad defender flicked a “header” beyond Zander Clark to open the scoring and bag his third of the season.

But the Lions lead would only last six minutes. Neat build-up from the Perth side resulted in Wotherspoon whipping a dangerous ball into the area from the right where Kane who, in an unusual fashion, chested beyond Stryjek to square things up.

The hosts then passed up a chance to take the lead as Scott Tanser’s cross from the left found Stevie May in the box but the former Aberdeen man failed to make a clean connection with a header that dragged harmlessly wide.

Instead, Livingston restored their advantage. A great tackle from Jack Fitzwater seen the ball fall to  Mullin and he clipped a superb through ball into the path of Robinson who calmly finished low past Clark into the far corner to spark scenes of delight on the Lions bench.

The St Johnstone keeper was then on hand to keep the hosts in the game by parrying away a close-range volley from Jack Fitzwater, with the rebound narrowly evading both him and Robinson.

But as the game progressed, Martindale’s men held firm, with the Perth side’s only real sight of goal in the remainder of the contest coming in the dying minutes, after Murray Davidson came within inches of getting on the end of a Callum Hendry effort but Stryjek was out quickly to gather.

A fantastic three points on the road, on grass as momentum continues to build going into the Betfred Cup quarter-final clash with Ross County.

St Johnstone: Clark, Kerr (Rooney 70), McNamara, Gordon, McCart, Tanser, Bryson (Davidson 84), McCann , Wotherspoon, Kane (Melamed 67), May (Hendry 67)
Subs not used: Parish, Booth, Craig, Conway
Goals: Kane (54)

Livingston: Stryjek, Serrano, Fitzwater, Guthrie, Devlin, Bartley , Sibbald, Forrest (Brown 62), Pittman , Mullin (Holt 77), Poplatnik (Tiffoney 45 (Robinson 55))
Subs not used: McCrorie, McMillan, Ambrose, Taylor-Sinclair, Emmanuel-Thomas
Goals: Guthrie (48), Robinson (65)

Referee: John Beaton
HT: 0-0
Att: BCD
Match Report: Dave Black

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