Livi surrendered a two-goal lead – and saw a late penalty saved – as they were held to a frustrating 2-2 draw by St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.
First-half goals from Scott Pittman and Stevie Lawless appeared to have given the Lions a commanding lead but defensive lapses allowed Matty Kennedy and Callum Hendry to bring Tommy Wright’s side back level. Zander Clark then kept out Lyndon Dykes’ weak last-minute penalty as Livi were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.
Gary Holt went with same starting line-up from the goalless opening-day draw with Motherwell as a spate of injuries left him unable to name a full complement of substitutes.
The Lions were looking for their first win in Perth since March 2007 and got off to a dream start to the match as they took the lead on 11 minutes with an excellent team goal as Aymen Souda played a fine pass through to Lawless and he squared for Pittman to fire high into the net from close range. Souda then came close to a second six minutes later when he cut in from the left and fired in a fierce effort that stung the palms of Clark.
Livi were well on top and went close again on 22 minutes when Pittman gathered possession before shifting the ball on to his right hand side and firing in a low effort that was brilliantly kept out by Clark. Dykes then picked up a yellow card eight minutes later after catching Madis Vihmann with a stray arm as they tussled for a high ball before Saints’ Murray Davidson escaped censure for a late tackle on Souda.
The Lions had been completely dominant and the scoreline finally reflected that five minutes from time when they doubled their lead with another well-worked goal. Jack McMillan showed great skill on the left to find Souda who fed Pittman and he, in turn, teed up Lawless to calmly fire low past Clark from the edge of the area.
Souda almost added a fortuitous third in the 44th minute when his deep corner almost dropped in but the Lions were forced to settle for just the two-goal lead at the interval.
Half-time: St Johnstone 0-2 Livingston
The Lions picked up where they left off after the interval and came within a whisker of a third goal on 52 minutes when Ricki Lamie got in down the left and fired a ball across goal for the onrushing Nicky Devlin but his touch let him down and he could only scoop an effort over the bar.
That miss was compounded as the home side pulled a goal back two minutes later when Keaghan Jacobs’ slack back pass was pounced on by Michael O’Halloran and he squared for Kennedy to tap home and bring Saints back into a game they had barely threatened in.
Livi went in search of a third and Lawless saw a 30-yard free kick gathered at the second attempt by Clark on the hour. Lamie then picked up a soft yellow card for delaying a Saints throw in before the Lions made their first change on 65 minutes when Sibbald replaced Souda. The home side followed suit five minutes later as Danny Swanson was replaced by Hendry.
The Lions went close again on 72 minutes when Dykes did well to outmuscle Richard Foster before finding Sibbald. He squared for Pittman but his tame effort was comfortably saved by Clark. Livi then made their second change five minutes later when Robbie Crawford came on for McMillan.
Livi were looking nervous as full-time drew closer and they were eventually punished eight minutes from time when a low cross from the left forced a fine save from Ross Stewart and the ball broke for Hendry who instinctively fired home from close range to level the scores. The Lions quickly went in search of a winner and came close two minutes from time when Devlin’s cross fell to Lawless but he fired over the bar from the edge of the box.
Scott Tiffoney then replaced Lawless before Livi were handed an even better chance to win the game when Dykes was bundled over in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Dykes dusted himself down to take it but his effort was tame and Clark was able to save comfortably as the Lions were forced to settle for two points from their opening two games when they will feel they should have had six.
Full-time: St Johnstone 2-2 Livingston
St Johnstone: Clark, Foster, Tanser, Kerr, Vihmann, O’Halloran, Kennedy, Davidson, McCann (Craig 89), Swanson (Hendry 70), Kane
Subs not used: Parish, Duffy, McClean, Gordon, Struthers
Goals: Kennedy (55), Hendry (82)
Livingston: Stewart, Devlin, Lithgow, Lamie, McMillan (Crawford 77), Bartley, Jacobs, Pittman, Lawless (Tiffoney 89), Souda (Sibbald 65), Dykes
Subs not used: Sarkic, Henderson, Erskine
Goals: Pittman (13), Lawless (39)
Referee: Andrew Dallas
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine