St Mirren ended an eight-game winless run in the Scottish Premiership as Jake Doyle-Hayes’ first goal for the club secured a hard-fought victory at Livingston.
The away side were second best for large spells until Doyle-Hayes broke the deadlock just before the hour mark.
The vital win leaves Jim Goodwin’s side in 11th but closes the gap on 10th-placed Livingston to a single point.
Gary Holt’s men are now five games without a league win.
The home side could have found themselves a goal up early on as Jak Alnwick could only parry Alan Forrest’s strike into the path of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. However, the striker got his header all wrong before Sam Foley failed to direct a header of his own on target up the other end.
Emmanuel-Thomas had a close-range effort blocked superbly by Marcus Fraser, then fellow full-back Richard Tait’s header from a Jamie McGrath corner was saved comfortably by Max Stryjek in the Livingston goal.
The hosts continued to look the brighter of the two sides early in the second period as Forrest continued to threaten, this time forcing Alnwick down to his left to parry away a side-footed effort from the edge of the area.
However, it would be the visitors who would open the scoring as Emmanuel-Thomas’ headed clearance from a St Mirren corner fell to Doyle-Hayes at the edge of the box. The former Aston Villa man connected well with his effort but a deflection off Marvin Bartley left Stryjek with no chance.
Any attacking spark the hosts had seemed to fade after Goodwin’s side took the lead, as the St Mirren defence dealt with everything that came their way while the team as a whole comfortably saw out the remainder of the contest.
Man of the match – Jake Doyle-Hayes
What did we learn?
Livingston were deservedly heaped with praise last season for their resilience at home, but so far this campaign they seem to be a soft touch at the Tony Macaroni Arena. That is now five home league defeats for Holt’s side so far this term when they only lost four in the entirety of last season.
As for St Mirren, Goodwin’s team showed guts to come away with the three points. Regardless of Livingston’s home form this season, it is still a tough place to go and while the home side had the better of the game, the visitors could have easily crumbled considering the winless run they were on. That kind of mentality will be vital throughout the remainder of the campaign if Goodwin’s men are to avoid the drop again.
What they said
Livingston manager Gary Holt: “We limited them to very little but we lost the game. We are in a dogfight now, it’s simple as that. It’s happening too often and I’ll have to have a look at myself as well.
“It’s baffling to stand here and say we’ve lost the game. I didn’t see us losing. I’ve asked the players to go away and have a look at themselves. I’ll look at myself tonight and decide whether it’s good enough, if it’s not get someone else in. We can’t keep continuing with that much of a difference between this season and last season.”
St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin: “It’s fantastic to win the game, to get back to winning games is vitally important. The players were outstanding. It’s difficult to come here and play open expansive football they don’t give you a second on the ball. The players managed the game brilliantly.
“Our results hadn’t been good enough. We’ve hard a really hard time of it. It’s been the most challenging season of my career. Hopefully we’ve had our fair share of bad luck. We’re not getting carried away.”
Both sides take part in the last 16 of the Scottish League Cup next Saturday as Livingston welcome Ayr United at 15:00 GMT before St Mirren host Aberdeen at 17:15.
- 3BrownBooked at 70mins
- 33LawsonSubstituted forMullinat 74′minutes
- 10SibbaldSubstituted forSerranoat 64′minutes
- 8PittmanSubstituted forPoplatnikat 74′minutes
- 21ConnollySubstituted forMcAllisterat 79′minutes
- 17McGrathBooked at 26minsSubstituted forMacPhersonat 90+2′minutes
- 9ObikaSubstituted forErwinat 82′minutes
Match ends, Livingston 0, St. Mirren 1.
Second Half ends, Livingston 0, St. Mirren 1.
Substitution, St. Mirren. Cameron MacPherson replaces Jamie McGrath.
Foul by Josh Mullin (Livingston).
Ethan Erhahon (St. Mirren) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Offside, St. Mirren. Jak Alnwick tries a through ball, but Lee Erwin is caught offside.
Offside, Livingston. Josh Mullin tries a through ball, but Nicky Devlin is caught offside.
Foul by Marvin Bartley (Livingston).
Jamie McGrath (St. Mirren) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Marvin Bartley (Livingston) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lee Erwin (St. Mirren).
Substitution, St. Mirren. Lee Erwin replaces Jonathan Obika.
Substitution, St. Mirren. Kyle McAllister replaces Dylan Connolly.
Jason Holt (Livingston) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Sam Foley (St. Mirren).
Ciaron Brown (Livingston) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jonathan Obika (St. Mirren).
Foul by Jason Holt (Livingston).
Brandon Mason (St. Mirren) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Livingston. Josh Mullin replaces Steve Lawson.