SPL

Livingston and St Johnstone play out dour goalless draw

By Sports Desk December 27, 2023

Livingston and St Johnstone battled to a goalless stalemate and a share of the spoils.

It was just a second point from a possible 33 for the home side, who have now failed to win in 11 games and are four points adrift at the foot of the cinch Premiership table.

With just two goals from their last 10 games, it was perhaps no surprise Livi failed to find a breakthrough during a poor 90 minutes.

For St Johnstone, the draw arrested back-to-back defeats and gives them eight points from a possible 18.

Livingston manager David Martindale named an attacking side as the home team attempted to improve their record of only one goal in their last nine games.

In a change of tactics, Bruce Anderson partnered Kurtis Guthrie in up front, while Joel Nouble was deployed as a right wing-back.

Saints boss Craig Levein was forced into four changes as his team looked to bounce back from successive league losses.

Fran Franczak and Ryan McGowan missed out through illness, while Chris Kane and Graham Carey were named on the bench following a demanding run of games.

Saints created the first chance after seven minutes although it was later called back for a foul.

Stevie May took the ball off Ayo Obileye and squared for Nicky Clark, but the striker was on the stretch and fired wide. Clark’s blushes, however, were spared by referee Kevin Clancy deciding May’s challenge on Obileye was illegal.

Livingston goalkeeper Shamal George, reinstated in the team after being dropped for the weekend’s defeat at Celtic, then spilled a simple ball along the deck, but both Clark and May failed to take advantage before the linesman’s flag was raised.

As the worst scorers in the Premiership, it should have come as no surprise that there was a shortage of chances at both ends.

Lions midfielder Scott Pittman at least had a shot from outside the box saved by Saints keeper Dimitar Mitov two minutes before the break.

Visiting manager Levein, who had earlier lost Max Kucheriavyi to injury, reshuffled his defence at the break, with the experienced Andy Considine being introduced in place of Tony Gallacher.

The game was desperately in need of a goal, but Mikey Devlin’s shot at the start of the second half was too straight to trouble Mitov.

Livi were on the attack again shortly after, but once more there was a lack of quality in the finish as Pittman blazed well wide after running onto a lofted pass.

On the hour mark, it was St Johnstone’s turn to pass up an opportunity.

The ball was deflected into the path of Clark 12 yards out, but he directed his half-volley straight at George.

With 18 minutes remaining, Saints thought they had finally broken the deadlock when Luke Robinson netted with a first-time shot from a low Clark cross.

But the assistant referee’s flag went up for offside and, after a delay, VAR agreed with the decision.

With time running out, Bruce Anderson fired wide for Livi before a shot from Saints substitute Sven Sprangler was blocked by Pittman.

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