Shamal George knows bottom side Livingston have the opportunity to bunch up the relegation battle in the next couple of weeks as a crunch game against Ross County awaits.

David Martindale’s side had won once in 18 games in all competitions – against Raith Rovers in the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup – before they came from two down to beat another Championship side Partick Thistle 3-2 in the next round of the competition in Glasgow.

The Lions followed that up with a battling 1-0 win against St Mirren last Saturday which cut the deficit behind County to three points ahead of their meeting in Dingwall on Saturday, although the Staggies have played one game less.

Livingston then face St Johnstone and Motherwell who are 10th and ninth respectively and goalkeeper George said: “That’s our main focus, catching the teams above us, but one game at a time and not get too ahead of ourselves.

“We’ve obviously got Ross County, St Johnstone and Motherwell, three teams around us. One game at a time but it’s a good time to try to bring teams back into it with us.

“Even though we haven’t been playing great lately I feel like Partick was a turnaround for us and fingers crossed we can go continue that going towards the end of the season.

“We got three big games now, which we need to get points from to bring others back into the mix.

“Like I said, one game at a time but everyone is focused on those three games because they’re three teams around us. Fingers crossed we can go to Ross County and get the points we need.”

George revealed a night out in Glasgow organised by the Livi boss after the Partick game helped team bonding as the battle to avoid the drop continues.

The former Colchester keeper said: “We went for some food and it brought the boys together and everyone had a good time.

“I think it was needed. We weren’t doing anything together as a team so it was good for the boys to be out again.

“It must have had some effect, it was a big win against St Mirren and everyone is still buzzing from it.”

David Martindale insists he will not get carried away despite Livingston finally ending their long wait for a cinch Premiership victory against St Mirren.

Tete Yengi’s goal in added time of the first half was enough for the Lions to claim their first win in 18 league matches.

Livi have now cut the gap between themselves and Ross County to just three points, with the teams set to face each other in Dingwall next Saturday.

“I am happy for the group,” he said. “The group has to take massive credit and I am delighted for them.

“When you are in an adverse situation and every week that hole gets bigger, there is a lot of anxiety and stress.

“The squad and staff have stayed buoyant – they have always been positive and I am delighted for them.”

The Livi boss was thrilled by the display of his goalkeeper Shamal George, who kept out Mikael Mandron’s late penalty to secure all three points.

George has been in and out of the team since the arrival of Michael McGovern last month, but showed his quality in a man-of-the-match performance against Saints.

“Michael McGovern has been a big turning point for Shamal,” Martindale added.

“Shamal has all the ability in the world, he is a great kid, trains impeccably well and I think he needed taken out his comfort zone.

“Michael coming in has done that, it has shown Shamal that if he’s not bang at it in games then he’s probably going to get dropped.

“I thought he was the best player on the park – hopefully that’s him kicked on a bit.”

Assistant boss Diarmuid O’Carroll praised what he beleived was a “brilliant” display by St Mirren, despite falling to defeat at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

The Buddies threw everything at the Livingston goal in the second half as they looked to drag themselves back into the game.

“I thought we were brilliant, it was just one of those days in front of goal,” O’Carroll said.

“We came here with a gameplan, we wanted to get the ball down and play, try create chances, put the ball into the box and sustain attacks – they did that to the letter.

“I think on any other day we win that game based on chances, but credit to Livingston, they battled, they fought and it shows you that they are right there for Davie.”

O’Carroll confirmed that Saints boss Stephen Robinson had been involved in a disagreement with a supporter after the full-time whistle.

Robinson appeared to be led away by Alex Gogic, and his number two insists the gaffer will always stand up for his players.

“I did see it. People are passionate about the game, there’s passion from our side,” he added.

“From a fans’ perspective, you come, you pay your money and you obviously want your team to win.

“We as a collective always go over (to the fans), whether we win, lose or draw.

“People pay their money and they can say what they want – but from our point of view, we can’t ask for much more of them.”

Livingston recorded a league victory for the first time since October after defeating St Mirren 1-0 to breathe new life into their cinch Premiership survival hopes.

Tete Yengi slammed home in added time of the first half to earn the hosts a priceless success that has helped the them reduce the gap between them and their nearest rivals Ross County to just three points.

St Mirren were awarded a penalty with 13 minutes remaining, but Shamal George came up with a vital save to keep out Mikael Mandron’s spot-kick and end Livi’s run of 17 games without a league win.

Marcus Fraser glanced Greg Kiltie’s teasing cross wide of the target as St Mirren threatened in the opening exchanges.

Saints were trying to force the issue and Mandron just failed to get the break of the ball after Scott Tanser fizzed over a low delivery.

Livingston almost opened the scoring with their first attack of the match as Andrew Shinnie’s header struck the inside of a post, however, the effort would have been unlikely to count due to a late flag from the assistant referee.

Zach Hemming in the away goal had been a virtual spectator for the majority of the first half-hour, but he would be forced into a good save when he punched away Stephen Kelly’s powerful strike.

The offside flag spared the blushes of Scott with seven minutes remaining in the first half, George could only parry Caolan Boyd-Munce’s low drive as far as the striker, who somehow turned the ball over the top from inside the six-yard box.

In the final minutes of the half, Boyd-Munce saw his long-range shot drift wide before the home side opened the scoring three minutes into added time.

Ayo Obileye’s rose highest to meet Kelly’s corner and Hemming was only able to divert the ball into the path of Yengi who slammed home.

It was the first time since August that Livi had held a lead at half-time, but it almost proved to be short-lived as Stephen Robinson’s men began the second half on the front foot.

Kiltie collected Mandron’s lay-off and blasted past the keeper, only for an incredible headed clearance by Michael Nottingham to prevent what looked like a certain leveller.

The visitors would pass up further opportunities when Tanser nodded past the post and Kwon Hyeok-kyu failed to hit the target with a volley from the edge of the box.

Robinson made a double change when he introduced Kyle Baccus and Olutoysi Olusanya for Keanu Baccus and Kwon – and the change almost paid dividends.

Referee Euan Anderson waved play on when Olusanya hit the deck inside the area following a challenge by Carson, a lengthy VAR check would follow and the visitors were awarded a penalty.

Mandron was tasked with dispatching from the spot, though George would dive low to deny the former Motherwell striker.

The game was almost put beyond doubt when Hemming’s poor kick landed at the feet of Kelly, and his audacious effort from 40 yards crept just past the post with the Saints goalkeeper chasing.

Seven minutes of added time were met with anxious groans from the home supporters and they survived close scares when Mandron and Charles Dunne both failed to convert gilt-edged chances.

Derek McInnes urged his players to savour their late 1-0 victory over Livingston after suffering for the majority of a difficult encounter.

Marley Watkins struck a crucial winner with two minutes left after Premiership strugglers Livi had frustrated their hosts for much the evening.

A lack of composure in front of goal was to prove costly for David Martindale’s side as they were punished late on, allowing Kilmarnock to claim their first win of 2024 and strengthen their grip on fourth place in the table.

“We’re not going to be in a rush to watch the game back again, but a late winner is always so welcome – sometimes they are the best ones,” said McInnes.

“I told the players to enjoy it because it wasn’t enjoyable – but enjoy winning the game.

“We struggled for any fluency, we gave the ball away, chose the wrong option and lacked confidence – which was strange as we’d only lost one in 10.

“We’ll take that but we need to learn from it, as the season goes on there will be a little bit more pressure on each game.”

McInnes was especially pleased at the impact of his substitutes, who all played a vital role in turning the game in Killie’s favour.

The home side were much improved after half-time when the Rugby Park boss turned to his bench.

The changes paid dividends as Matty Kennedy picked out fellow sub Kevin van Veen to nod the ball into Watkins’ path for the winner.

“Half-time came at the right time and the subs that we made definitely helped us,” he added.

“We knew a point wasn’t really going to help us too much for what we’re trying to do. We tried to chase the game a bit.

“Van Veen’s quality showed, even just a few touches, none more so than the goal — it’s a brilliant win for us and I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Livi boss Martindale was disappointed as his side were let down by a lack of composure in front of goal.

The Lions are now 17 Premiership games without a win and sit six points adrift at the foot of the table.

“I thought defensively we were very, very good in the shape – we defended very well,” he said.

“I felt we had the better chances in the game, I felt tonight was probably more on the offensive players at the club if I’m being brutally honest.

“I don’t believe performances alone are enough to make it turn but there are very few performances that I’ve came in worried.

“I’m frustrated for the players more so than me because I can feel the anxiety and frustration in the changing room.”

David Carson accepted Livingston’s perilous position in the cinch Premiership with confidence when he opted for a move to the top-flight.

The 28-year-old midfielder departed cinch Championship side Inverness for the Lions on an 18-month contract last week after five years at the Highland club.

The Newcastle-born player made his debut in the 3-0 defeat by Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday which left David Martindale’s side without a league win in their last 16 attempts and six points behind second-bottom Ross County having played two games more.

Ahead of Wednesday night’s game against fourth-placed Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, where the in-form home team have lost only once in 10 games in all competitions, Carson conceded that some people may have questioned his decision to join a club whose Premiership future is fraught.

He said: “I agree, people will look at it like that but I am a player, I know the situation we are in and there is still a lot of football to play.

“I am coming in with the aim, like everyone else at this club, to keep us in the Premiership. That’s what I have come to do.

“As a player you always want to play at the highest level you can and there was an opportunity for me to do that.

“First and foremost it was that, I wanted to test myself and when I spoke to the manager it was a positive chat.

“I know the situation that we are in but we can affect that and hopefully we can start to pick up points.

“There is absolutely a lot of confidence. There are a lot of games that we can go and attack and try to pick up points.

“Saturday was difficult but we have to let that pass, it is done. We were well in the game before the first game.

“We have to move on to Wednesday night which is a big game for us.

“We can’t concentrate too much on what other people are doing, we have to go in there with a game plan and see if that gets us some points.

“We are confident. There is a good group of lads, I have seen that in training already. There is some real quality in there so why not start a good run on Wednesday?”

David Martindale admitted his interest in signing Inverness midfielder David Carson after Livingston came from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Ross County at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

Simon Murray gave the Staggies the lead after 28 minutes but that was cancelled out by Livi midfielder Scott Pittman just before the break.

Murray fired in a second in the 85th minute but Livi substitute Dan MacKay levelled with a header three minutes later for a deserved point.

The Lions have gone 15 league games without a win and remain six points adrift of second-bottom County in the table having played two games more than the Staggies.

Asked about Carson, Martindale said: “I’ve spoken to a few. Maybe it is something we will try to pursue.

“But the focus was the game today, so I’ve not really been that active on it but he is someone we have spoken to.”

On the game, Martindale added: “It was frustrating. I sound like a lunatic but there’s been a lot of good performances over the last five or six weeks.

“It’s hard to be critical of a lot of the players on the park. Offensively we were very good.

“We had a lot of chances and we have to hit the target.

“We created plenty but the defending is nowhere near the levels we need.

“We did show character to come back twice. We were nervous in the first half but once they scored, that sparked us into life.

“We got a foothold in the game. Then the boys dug in and got us back to 2-2 and showed huge character.

“The goals we’re losing at this level is extremely worrying.”

Derek Adams had six January signings playing again and will look to add one, possibly two more to his squad before the transfer window closes, although he does not envisage losing midfielder Yan Dhanda early to Hearts.

The midfielder has reportedly agreed a pre-contract with the Gorgie club but the County boss does not believe Hearts will pay a fee to take him to Tynecastle in this window.

Adams said: “Well unless Hearts were able to pay money and the club thought it was acceptable. I wouldn’t want to lose him between now and the end of the season.

“But if a club comes up with the money that that club accepts, then you can’t do anything about that.

“But it looks like it’s highly unlikely because Hearts have said they’ve got no money to spend.

“We’ll look to do one more, possibly two by the window finishing. I’d like to do two. It might not happen, but we’ll hopefully do one.”

Bottom side Livingston showed fighting spirit to come from behind twice to grab a 2-2 draw against fellow strugglers Ross County at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

Striker Simon Murray’s terrific strike after 28 minutes gave the Staggies the lead but Livi midfielder Scott Pittman poached an equaliser just before the break.

Murray fired in a second in the 85th minute but Livi substitute Dan MacKay levelled with a header three minutes later for a deserved point.

The Lions have gone 15 league games without a win, remain six points adrift of second-bottom County in the table and have played two games more than the Dingwall men, but David Martindale can take some encouragement from his side’s display.

Seeking solutions – and fast – Martindale brought back Joel Nouble, Pittman, Kurtis Guthrie and Jamie Brandon.

Derek Adams took some hope from the narrow 1-0 defeat away to Celtic on Saturday and kept the same team which included six January signings – George Wickens, Loick Ayina, Teddy Jenks, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Brandon Khela and Eli King.

Midfielder Yan Dhanda, who has agreed a pre-contract with Hearts, captained the side in front of a sparse crowd.

The match took time to warm up.

In the 24th minute a James Penrice cross from wide on the left almost caught out County goalkeeper Wickens, who scooped the ball away from under his crossbar with Livi failing to capitalise on a moment of panic in the visiting box.

Moments later, the Highland club took the lead.

Murray raced onto a searching Dhanda pass and under pressure inside the box from defender Ayo Obiliye he hammered the ball high past keeper Michael McGovern from a tight angle.

The offside flag went up but a VAR check confirmed the goal, allowing Murray to celebrate his 12th of the season.

Obiliye went close with a curling effort from 20 yards as Livi responded and just before the break, Pittman reacted quickly to a Guthrie knockdown inside the box and stabbed the ball past Wickens from six yards.

Livi’s Steven Bradley missed the target with a low drive before the interval and play zipped from end to end when play resumed.

In the 68th minute, McGovern made up for fumbling Dhanda’s cross inside his six-yard box by blocking a close-range drive from Staggies substitute Jordan White.

However, Livingston looked like they could snatch another goal and a series of deliveries into the County box were repelled.

Pittman curled a shot just past a post and then, with the goal gaping, attacker Bruce Anderson missed the target from a cutback from fellow sub MacKay, who may have been offside anyway.

But there was late drama.

County raced up the park and when a cross from substitute Josh Sims arrived at Murray at the back post, he fired past McGovern from 12 yards.

Livi were not to be denied, though, and MacKay headed in a Jason Holt cross to maintain the status quo at the bottom.

Former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern is determined to become Livingston’s number one as he bids to banish the “frustration” of making just one appearance in the last three years.

The 39-year-old joined the bottom-of-the-table Lions on loan from cinch Premiership rivals Hearts last week to provide competition and cover for Shamal George after Jack Hamilton suffered an injury that could keep him out until March.

McGovern – who won 32 caps for his country and featured at Euro 2016 – has not played since being given a one-off run-out for Norwich in an FA Cup tie at Wolves in February 2022, but he is adamant he is not resigned to being a back-up keeper for what remains of his career.

“I’ve got some stiff competition with the other goalkeepers but I’ve come here to try and get in the team and play,” he said.

“At Hearts, I wasn’t playing and recently I haven’t even been on the bench because Craig Gordon’s back fit so this is a better opportunity for me here.

“It’s been difficult. At Norwich, I was going in every day trying to get in the team, same at Hearts. I wasn’t just happy to pick up my wages, I wanted to contribute.

“But it’s hard sometimes as a goalkeeper because only one can play. In my last season at Norwich I was up against Angus Gunn, a Scotland international, and Tim Krul, a Holland international.

“And then I went to Hearts and I was up against Craig and Zander Clark, two Scotland internationals, so it’s been tough. It’s been frustrating not to play because I’m desperate to play and contribute to a team and get that feeling back on a Saturday so that’s my aim here.”

Asked if he still feels sharp enough to re-establish himself as first-choice goalkeeper, McGovern – who will be in the squad for Saturday’s cinch Premiership match at home to Dundee – said: “Most definitely. People don’t see it because I’ve not played much but in training I feel really sharp.

“At Norwich, I was sharp last season, coming up against top international players (in training) and making saves. I feel like you’ve got a personal responsibility to look after yourself when you’re not playing.

“The games I have played over recent years, I’ve kind of come from nowhere to go straight into the team and I’ve always produced when needed. That’s because I’m looking after myself every day, I feel like fitness-wise I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in.”

David Martindale told his Livingston players to take responsibility for their predicament as he labelled their first-half defending “shambolic” following a 3-1 defeat by Motherwell.

Theo Bair scored twice and set up another for Blair Spittal inside 35 minutes, with Scott Pittman pulling one back midway through the half.

Livi pushed for a lifeline after the break but never really troubled their former goalkeeper Liam Kelly as they slipped further adrift at the foot of the cinch Premiership.

Their visit to Fir Park provided a chance to cut the gap at the bottom to one point but they are now six behind Ross County, who have two games in hand.

“The first-half performance, I never saw it coming,” Martindale said. “It was well below the standard expected of Livingston players.

“They should probably have been three up before they scored. Our defending was shocking. It was shambolic. And it comes from the individuals on the park.

“I spoke to the players, we can talk about game plans, tactics, formations, it’s all bulls*** if you don’t do your one-v-one jobs properly.

“As a defensive unit, the individual errors we made in the first half were terrible.

“We get ourselves back in the game, and we shouldn’t have been anywhere the game, and we shoot ourselves in the foot again with a mistake. It gives us a mountain to climb.”

Motherwell had not won in 15 games but started brightly to leave Livi with two points from 12 matches since beating the Steelmen in West Lothian.

Martindale added: “I have sat in numerous press conferences and tried to take the pressure off the players and be positive. I don’t feel that after today’s game.

“Players need to start taking a bit more responsibility. It’s too easy in modern-day football – sack the manager, sack the manager.

“What about the players? They now need to start taking responsibility.

“I tried to take the pressure off them but we are in a relegation battle now and that first-half performance was diabolical. Second half was a bit better but not much.”

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell praised his players for their approach after they doubled their tally of first-half league goals for the season.

“Everyone has spoken about the poor run we have been on and you need to show massive character to get yourself out of that,” said Kettlewell, whose side moved up to eighth.

“I thought the first half, especially the start to the game, was indicative of where we were and what the players were pouring into the game.

“Everyone with that one cause, to break the cycle and give ourselves a chance to move up the table

“The only way we could do that was defend better, switch on better, and then from my side of things it was very purposeful in going with three strikers, and going with mobility at the top end of the pitch where we felt we could try and expose Livingston. We got joy from it.

“Second half wasn’t pretty but you know Livingston are going to fight for their cause and you know they are going to go straight up to the striker.

“So what you have to do is defend against that and the three points were always going to be the most important thing.”

Livingston manager David Martindale was left ruing his best side’s chance falling to defender Mikey Devlin as they fought out a goalless draw with St Johnstone.

However, the Lions boss insists he was “fairly happy” with elements of his side’s display despite remaining rooted to the foot of the cinch Premiership.

Midfielder Scott Pittman and striker Bruce Anderson also passed up decent opportunities in attack before skipper Devlin had the chance to snatch a dramatic late victory.

The draw leaves the Almondvale men without a win in 11 games and four points adrift at the bottom.

Martindale said: “I thought we were the ones kicking on to try and get the winner.

“We got info into the players at half-time and they probably created the best three or four chances of the game.

“You look at Pittman’s, he has to do better. Bruce had one at the keeper’s right-hand post; Mick [Devlin] again – don’t hit the target.

“When I look at the chances created I thought we were the team going out in the second half.”

On Devlin’s late miss, Martindale added: “I thought why is it falling to Mick?

“It’s difficult. Mick’s is a really good chance, but it’s falling to a centre-back in the penalty box. I think Pittman’s is probably the best chance.

“I think there needs to be a bit of individual responsibility on the offensive players, I think they have to be a wee bit more brave and show more composure in the opponents’ box.

“I don’t want to sound delusional – we’re sitting bottom of the league – but I was fairly happy with some of the performances we’ve had.

“Tonight, we had two or three good opportunities to take something from the game and don’t hit the target.”

Meanwhile, St Johnstone boss Craig Levein reckons the “pressure” got to both teams in the stalemate.

The Saints had the ball in the net with a Luke Robinson strike, but it was ruled out for offside.

There was little in the way of quality as Levein’s outfit stayed in ninth in the Premiership table and extended their lead over Motherwell in second bottom to three points.

He said: “It was two teams playing safe football. In the second half, I thought we were a bit better, but it was all too safe for my liking.

“We’ve done enough in the last seven games where we’ve had good 15, 30-minute spells and controlled the game.

“But we played the safe ball too many times tonight, and so did Livingston.

“I think subconsciously, if you keep the gap [to the bottom] then that can feel better than losing.

“Maybe both teams had that idea in their heads. It’s not something we’d spoken about, but I’ve been there 100 times and know what it feels like.

“The pressure has been on for all the wrong reasons and I think that’s what we saw tonight. It looked to be a reasonable chance [for Devlin].

“We had Luke’s goal offside too and Nicky had a chance. I’d like to be talking about more passages of good play, but I’m struggling to.”

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.

Aberdeen boss Barry Robson was in bullish mood after his side came from behind to overcome Livingston 2-1 in the cinch Premiership.

The Dons had to do it the hard way after falling behind to Kurtis Guthrie’s close-range finish – a strike that ended a seven-game goalless streak for the rock-bottom visitors.

Bojan Miovski headed in an equaliser before the interval and, after seeing another strike chalked off for offside, the North Macedonia striker turned home a low cross from Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes to earn his side a second successive league win.

Aberdeen’s response after Sunday’s League Cup final defeat to Rangers impressed their manager, who has seen his side win three of their last four matches in all competitions having previously endured a six-game winless run.

Robson said: “It’s difficult to come out after a game of the magnitude of the Viaplay Cup final and I was a wee bit concerned, but it shows that the boys are together.

“I think we started probably a bit slowly, and there wasn’t much in the first half. We showed resilience after going behind, and grew into the game.

“Bojan scored two great goals and I think he could have scored one or two more in the end.

“We always knew November and December would be tough months. We need to get our heads down and pick up the points to get us up the table.

“We look at every game as being really difficult. We’ve come through a lot of tough games and it’s not easy at any Scottish Premier League ground.”

Livingston manager David Martindale felt Aberdeen’s quality in attack was the difference between the two sides.

“The top end of the park is the difference tonight,” he said.

“We’ve got to do better at both of his goals, but I don’t think there was anything in the game.

“We felt pretty comfortable and the game plan was working. Aberdeen changed their shape which hurt us, but we’ve got to do better with those goals.

“They’re cracking finishes, and for me he’s one of the best strikers in the league.

“Kurtis Guthrie was very, very good tonight, but the ones in and around him need to take a bit more responsibility.

“Unfortunately I can’t afford players like Miovski.”

Bojan Miovski scored twice as Aberdeen came from behind to beat Livingston 2-1 and pick up a valuable three points in the cinch Premiership.

Livingston had failed to score in their previous seven matches, but ended that run as Kurtis Guthrie turned home from close range.

But Miovski netted either a goal in each half to earn the hosts a second successive league win, which moved them eight points clear of their rock-bottom opponents.

The Dons – looking to move on quickly from Sunday’s League Cup final defeat to Rangers – had the first effort of the match, but American midfielder Dante Polvara curled narrowly over the crossbar from 20 yards.

Livi responded strongly, with Jamie Brandon’s deep cross finding the head of Joel Nouble at the back post, but Kelle Roos was untroubled in the Aberdeen goal.

Aberdeen went closer when Graeme Shinnie’s low shot from range seemed to squirt off the Pittodrie turf and came back off the inside of the post before rolling away for a goal-kick.

But they were shocked in the 28th minute when Livingston ended what had been a seven-game scoreless streak.

The Dons defence failed to deal with a deep throw-in, allowing Ayo Obileye to turn the ball back across goal where Guthrie was perfectly placed to turn home from close range.

They could have been 2-0 ahead 10 minutes later as Scott Pittman turned neatly before firing towards goal, but Roos was equal to the effort.

Aberdeen hauled themselves level three minutes from the interval.

A patient move saw them work their way up the right flank, before Nicky Devlin whipped in a cross and Miovski powered a header past Shamal George in the Livi goal.

George was beaten again on the stroke of half-time as Miovski turned home a neat poacher’s effort after a free-kick from the right, but an offside flag ruled the goal out.

Aberdeen started the second period at a greater tempo, and Richard Jensen saw an effort from distance comfortably held by George.

James McGarry was also denied by the Livingston keeper before Miovski netted his second in the 65th minute.

Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes twisted and turned on the left before drilling a low ball to the near post, where Miovski got in front of his man to turn home his 14th goal of the campaign.

Livi threatened to draw level through former Don Bruce Anderson, just two minutes after coming off the bench, but the striker placed his shot narrowly wide of the post with only Roos to beat.

And at the other end, Miovski was unlucky not to add a third for the home side with a neat flick that was well saved by George.

David Martindale was left to rue an injury to Sean Kelly as Livingston missed a penalty in Saturday’s goalless cinch Premiership draw with Kilmarnock.

The Premiership’s bottom side failed to win for an eighth-consecutive match but picked up their first point since the victory over Motherwell on October 7.

It could have been a better day for the Lions but Bruce Anderson was guilty of missing a second-half spot-kick.

Kelly is the team’s regular taker but had to be replaced at half-time after sustaining a hamstring problem.

Martindale said: “Sean came in at half-time and said he felt his hamstring – he would have taken the penalty.

“Bruce grabbed it but your the number nine at a football club, you should be wanting to take penalties.

“Sean had missed a couple previously but I think he’d scored his last three. Sean would 100 per cent have taken it.

“We get the opportunity from 12 yards and I’m disappointed. I spoke to wee Brucey and he’s gutted.

“The wee guy lives and breathes scoring goals. You have to be disappointed he’s not hit the target, if the keeper saves it you take your hat off.

“It really sums the game up.

“To be fair, wee Brucey missed his last penalty. Your number nine is on the park so crack on.

“When you’re going through periods that we’re going through at this point, it seems that everyone is going against you.”

Martindale’s side remain five points adrift at the foot of the table and the Livi manager admitted the missed penalty left a bitter taste after recent struggles.

He added: “I thought it had nil-nil written all over it, it was one of those games.

“The fans probably didn’t realise how strong the wind was. We found it difficult to get out in the first half. They bombarded our box and it was really difficult to get any distance on the ball.

“Fair play to the players because I thought they defended the 18-yard box well.

“It’s hard. I was sitting here last week and was probably a wee bit more positive in terms of the performance. I thought we were unlucky.

“But this week after the game in the changing room there is probably a bit more adversity because you think you had those three points in the bag from 12 yards.

“Albeit we’ve stopped the run of defeats, got a clean sheet and got a point.”

Meanwhile, Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes insisted Livingston defender Mikey Devlin should have seen red for a second-half challenge on Danny Armstrong.

Devlin was booked for the foul but McInnes feels VAR should have intervened.

He said: “It’s a terrible tackle. I don’t know why (referee) Willie (Collum) has not been asked to go to the screen.

“He (Armstrong) had to come off with the injury. It’s a scissors tackle, something we are continually told is to go out the game.

“No one wants to see red cards but it’s a terrible challenge. It’s a nasty challenge and for me it should have been a red card.

“He was labouring after it, he was hurt. If you see the tackle again, you’ll see why he was hurt.

“If Willie gives a red there, VAR isn’t getting involved to say it’s not a red. I think it is a red.”

Dundee boss Tony Docherty will take little heed of Livingston’s poor form ahead of their cinch Premiership clash on Sunday.

The Lions have won only one of their last nine games in all competitions and went down 2-0 to the Dark Blues in West Lothian last week, before a narrow 1-0 home defeat to Hearts on Wednesday night.

On the same evening, Dundee lost 5-0 at home to Rangers and their first defeat in five games left them ninth in the table, one point ahead of second-bottom Livi.

Docherty acknowledged the clash on Tayside will take place on grass rather than an artificial surface but also how difficult David Martindale’s side normally make it for their opponents.

He said: “I watched a game against Hearts and they were all-out, full of energy and it was a typical Livingston performance, a really strong performance where they were coming out fighting.

“So I wouldn’t look at form, I look at performances and I’m sure their manager will be buoyed by the way they approached that game, and I expect no less from a Livingston team coming here.

“They’ll be hard-working and difficult to play against as they always are. And we know as a team how tough that challenge is going to be but hopefully we’re ready for it.

“Last week we trained on Astroturf because we were going into a game on an artificial surface, this week we trained on grass because it’s a game on grass.

“So that’s the main difference in preparation but everything else – we do the same for every opponent.

“We obviously analyse their games and we make sure that as a squad we look at strengths, weaknesses and we analyse our team so the preparation is very much the same game-by-game but the only difference is the surface we train on.”

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