Quickfire double seals win for Lions

Two goals in as many minutes lifted Livingston off the bottom of the Scottish Premiership after a 2-0 victory over St. Johnstone at the Tony Macaroni Arena. Graeme Sinclair reports.

Scott Tiffoney’s 33rd minute strike was followed up 60 seconds later by a fantastic curling effort from Alan Forrest. 

The result sees the Lions overtake the Saints and move into 9th in the table. St Johnstone are now in 11th, with the league’s most ineffective attack once again firing a blank.

There was no place in the St. Johnstone squad for new signing Craig Bryson, but the Saints made four changes to the side that lost at home to Ross County last week. Zander Clark made his first appearance of the season, replacing Elliot Parish in goal.

Livingston’s performances have not matched results in recent weeks and Gary Holt only made two changes from his side’s 3-2 defeat at Celtic Park. 

The opening half an hour was not short of hard work and guile, but there was a distinct lack of quality going forward from either side. Livi started the better of the two, but the best effort they could muster was a weak half volley from Jason Holt. St. Johnstone slowly grew into the contest, with Craig Conway firing a snapshot high over the bar.

23 minutes in, Stevie May had to best chance of the game to that point. Conway played a cross into the front post and May stabbed his shot forward, but goalkeeper Robby McCrorie was well positioned to make a comfortable save. Just as St. Johnstone were beginning to look like the better of the two, a couple of sucker punches knocked the wind out of their sails.

First, Nicky Devlin pinched the ball off Michael O’Halloran in a dangerous area and played in Tiffoney down the right. Tiffoney played in Alan Forrest who had two efforts blocked, but the second effort fell back to Tiffoney who fired across goal and into the back of the net.

Just seconds later, Livingston doubled their lead, with goal scorer Tiffoney turning provider. He played a short pass to Alan Forrest, who found himself with space on the edge of the box and struck the ball beautifully into the bottom left corner from 18 yards out.

The quickfire double proved fatal for a St Johnstone side who have scored the fewest goals in the league, and never looked like getting back into the game. In fact, after the break it was Livi who looked more likely to add to their lead rather than St Johnstone fighting back – the impressive Nicky Devlin had a front post header flash right across goal from a corner, but it flew just wide.

Saints manager Callum Davidson brought on striker Callum Hendry to play alongside Stevie May for the second half, but the away side were still unable to carve out any meaningful opportunities. 

The Saints’ best spell came with 20 minutes to go. Scott Tiffoney came on and substitute Lars Lokotsch was ineffective at reproducing Tiffoney’s contributions to hold up and link play. The substitution resulted in St Johnstone being able to control the ball more, which in turn led to a number of set pieces, which Livi struggled to deal with. A succession of corners were threatening but no one was able to head efforts towards the goal.

Their best chance to grab a goal fell to substitute Hendry, who fired a wicked strike at goal, beating McCrorie but not the head of Jason Holt, who was on the goal line. That was just about that, as the remainder of the game petered out and Livi saw out the game comfortably.

This result means St. Johnstone haven’t scored a goal in September, which will be of massive concern for Davidson, especially since his side didn’t once look like scoring today.

On the other hand, Gary Holt will be pleased with his side rebounding after back to back defeats where they perhaps deserved more.

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