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Clark snatches late St Johnstone equaliser against Livingston

St Johnstone denied Livingston a crucial win at McDiarmid Park as Nicky Clark’s late goal snatched them a 1-1 draw in a game littered with stoppages.

It looked as if the visitors were set to emerge victorious following Andrew Shinnie’s first-half opener, but Clark glanced home with three minutes left to give Saints a share of the spoils.

There was 20 minutes of stoppage time across the course of the match, with injuries preventing the game from having any sort of rhythm.

The hosts moved ahead of Aberdeen and up to ninth in the table, while the Lions remain bottom, though they have cut the gap between themselves and Ross County to six points.

Adama Sidibeh made a welcome return to the St Johnstone bench following a spell in hospital after collapsing on the pitch at the end of the 2-0 defeat to St Mirren a week ago.

There was little in the way of goalmouth action in a scrappy opening to proceedings and it took until the 25th minute for the first chance.

A loose pass from Dan Phillips was seized upon by Dan MacKay, but the Saints defence recovered just as the winger looked to get his shot away.

The visitors went close when Shinnie’s header from Sean Kelly’s free-kick dropped narrowly wide of the target.

Livingston were rewarded for their pressure when they broke the deadlock eight minutes before half-time.

Kelly’s corner was glanced on by Michael Devlin and Shinnie was on hand to brilliantly hook the ball beyond goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov from six yards.

PERTH, SCOTLAND - MARCH 02: Livingston's Andrew Shinnie (C) celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 with his teammates during a cinch Premiership match between St Johnstone and Livingston at McDiarmid Park, on March 02, 2024, in Perth, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Image: Livingston’s Andrew Shinnie (C) celebrates scoring to make it 1-0

Given the stop-start nature of the opening 45 minutes, it was little surprise when the fourth official indicated there would be eight minutes of added time – and that pattern was to continue as Diallang Jaiyesimi limped off to be replaced by Graham Carey.

St Johnstone finally mustered their first attempt on target in the final minute of stoppage time. Matt Smith picked out Clark who nodded weakly into the grateful arms of Shamal George when he really should have found the net.

It was Livi who began the second half the brighter, with Mitov twice called into action in the early stages.

The Bulgarian pulled off a brilliant stop to keep out MacKay’s swerving effort before diving low to grasp Cristian Montano’s shot.

David Keltjens’ cross narrowly evaded Stevie May as Saints chased a way back into the match, but their momentum continued to be interrupted by stoppages.

Kurtis Guthrie passed up a glorious opportunity to put the game out of reach of their hosts when he picked the pocket of Andy Considine and then raced clear on goal, only to then drag his angled drive past a post.

It was a moment the visitors would come to rue as Clark came up with a late leveller – nodding home Carey’s pinpoint delivery.

A further 10 minutes of time added on at the end of the second half presented both sides with an opportunity to claim victory, but Guthrie was hesitant at a crucial moment before laying the ball to Jason Holt who blazed over.

What the managers said…

St Johnstone manager Craig Levein: “I think in the end it will be a good point.

“Two teams sitting at the bottom of the table who are obviously concerned about their league positions and who realise if it comes down to a scrap then they have to roll their sleeves up and really have a go.

“I think what you saw was the outcome of that pressure, there wasn’t much good football or calm thinking going on and it was a real fight.”

Livingston boss David Martindale: “It’s difficult, the players are fighting tooth-and-nail and anyone can see how much the players are putting into the games.

“I’d never question their heart and their spirit, from matchday one to where we are just now, I think that has been there in abundance.

“The players are gutted in there, they’ve been gutted most games when they don’t pick three points up.

“But I’m trying to explain – and I’m not trying to come over delusional – if you’re 1-0 down and you score the late goal then it changes the narrative to a great point.”

What’s next?

Livingston’s attention turns to the Scottish Cup with a quarter-final tie at Celtic on Sunday. Kick-off 2.30pm.

With St Johnstone already out of the competition, they do not return to action until March 16 when they travel to Celtic in the Scottish Premiership. Kick-off 3pm.

Sky News
(c) Sky Sports 2024:Source