St Mirren 1-0 Livingston

The Lions kicked off the 20/21 Premiership campaign with a defeat in Paisley to St Mirren thanks to a Richard Tait header on 30 minutes.

There were only three changes from the Livingston side that were beaten in Perth in March before the coronavirus pandemic brought football to a halt.

Debuts were given to two new signings, with defender Jack Fitzwater and forward Alan Forrest making their first starts for the club.

It’s fair to say it was a sloppy start from both sides, as expected after no competitive football for either side for well over four months.

Livingston had the first chance of the match, which came around the 20th minute. After a great switch of play by Fitzwater to the left wing, Efe Ambrose took the ball down well, cut inside and tried his luck from distance but his speculative shot was held comfortably by St Mirren debutante Jack Alnwick.

Right on the half hour mark though, the hosts took the lead. The Lions had cleared their lines from a Saints corner, but with some bodies still in the box, McPherson got the ball back and found Jamie McGrath. The Irishman crossed from deep and his delivery was met superbly by Richard Tait on the diving header which he diverted past Robby McCrorie to put his side in front in his first game.

Livingston went in search for an immediate equaliser and came close through Craig Sibbald. The midfielder picked the ball up from deep and smashed an effort from around 30 yards out which cracked the post.

Just before the break, Livi had a half chance. Lyndon Dykes controlled the ball well on the edge of the box and laid off Nicky Devlin. The defender tried his luck on the half volley from outside the area, but his effort was always rising over the bar.

The Lions came out for the second half fired up and raring to go after a below par first 45 minutes. They began to control the game more and take the came to St Mirren in the hope for an equaliser, while the Saints looked to hold on to their lead.

Some brilliant skill four minutes after the restart by Alan Forrest took him by two men as he cut inside from the left wing. The former Ayr United man curled an effort towards goal as he looked to net his first goal for his new club, but he was denied by a terrific stop from Alnwick.

A few minutes later, Nicky Devlin had another half chance. Fitzwater came forward down the right-hand side of the pitch, and whipped in another decent delivery which was met by Devlin, but the full back’s header looped over the bar.

Scott Robinson, Aymen Souda and debutant Salim Kouider-Aissa came off the bench sporadically as Gary Holt looked to push his side forward in search for a goal.

But, St Mirren held firm and nearly doubled their lead with nine minutes to play. A good cross from goalscorer Tait was won in the air by Obika. The striker’s header fell perfectly for substitute Junior Morias who should have put the ball in the back of the net from around 6 yards out, but his powerful volley hit the post. The rebound off the woodwork landed at the feet of Cammy McPherson on the edge of the box, but his strike was held by McCrorie.

The Lions had an effort very late on as they looked to nick a point in the last minute. A cross into the box was only half punched clear by Alnwick, and the ball fell to Scott Pittman on the edge of the box. The midfielder’s strike looked goal bound, but the St Mirren defence, who had been solid all afternoon, were there yet again in numbers to put their bodies on the line and block the effort as Livingston couldn’t find the goal to level proceedings.

A frustrating opening day for Gary Holt’s side, who will be looking to bounce back next Saturday as they host Hibs with Premiership football returning to the Tony Macaroni Arena for the third consecutive season.

St Mirren: Alnwick, Fraser, Shaughnessy, McCarthy , Tait , McAllister (⇒ Morias 61), Foley, MacPherson , McGrath, Durmus (⇒ Thorvaldsson 77), Obika
Subs not used: Lyness, Ue minsky, Baird, Erhahon, Henderson, Jack, Jamieson
Goals: Tait (30)

Livingston: McCrorie, Taylor-Sinclair (⇒ Souda 83), Ambrose , Guthrie, Fitzwater, Devlin, Bartley, Sibbald (⇒ Robinson 67), Pittman, Forrest (⇒ Kouider-Aïssa  61), Dykes
Subs not used: Stryjek, Crawford, McMillan, Tiffoney, Hamilton, Pignatiello

Referee: Don Robertson
HT: 0-1
Att: BCD
Match Report: Calum Brown

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