By Blair McNally
From the off it became evident this was to be a feisty, end-to-end encounter, with both teams creating several half-chances. It was a tale of crosses and clearances, with Livingston having the pick of the bunch through Scott Pittman in the 11th minute.
A low Josh Mullin cross found Pittman creeping in at the front post, only for the latter’s finish to be stopped by an excellent sliding challenge from Jamie McCart. In the 30th minute St Johnstone found themselves unfortunate not to be ahead. A David Wotherspoon corner was met at the near post and flashed onto the crossbar by last weekend’s hero, Chris Kane, leaving him with his hands on his head.
Three minutes into the second half and the game had a goal as Livingston hit the net. A terrific free-kick from the left was met by Jon Guthrie’s head, bouncing past the fingertips of a stretching Zander Clark.
However, the celebrations were to be short lived, as Kane had the home side level six minutes later. An injured Scott Tiffoney was intercepted on the centre circle before going to ground with a game-ending injury. St Johnstone proceeded to play on as Wotherspoon picked up the ball on the right wing.
His cross, bizarrely, bounced off the chest of Kane, wrong-footing the Livingston goalkeeper and landing over the line to the striker’s delight. In the 65th minute David Martindale’s persistent shouting seemed to pay off as a moment of Mullin magic had the Lions back in front.
A pass into the centre of the park was tremendously flicked up and over the static Saints defence and into the path of substitute Scott Robinson, leaving him with the simple task of slotting past Clark.
St Johnstone were left frustrated as Livingston’s game-management went exactly how they planned, holding the ball and limiting the Saints to few real chances. Another Martindale masterclass meant all three points travelled back down the road with the interim boss. Here are three things we learned.
Saints in good stead
Despite the scoreline, the Saints were unfortunate not to have come away with a point, with the crossbar being the difference.
A remarkable run of form for St Johnstone has steered them away from the foot of the table and enlightened Saints fans with the hope of claiming yet another top six finish. The McDiarmid Park club have no need to worry as they sit three points from sixth place.
Lions change key
After several seasons of outdoing the critics, the toll seemed to be catching up with Livi as they were on course to be competing at the bottom of the table.
The introduction of an incredibly vocal Martindale as interim manager seems to be setting the tone as the Lions have had an extremely positive turn in form. It’s making them look more compact as a unit, scoring eight goals with one reply in three matches under Martindale.
All to play for this season
As the hectic Christmas period approaches, there is only eight points between 5th and 12th position in the Premiership.
Despite both teams recently excelling coming into this one, they will need to carry this form into the next couple of months or as we’ve seen in recent years, those lacking will be sucked into a relegation fight.
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