Livingston continued their fabulous run of form with their second win from three consecutive home games in the space of 13 days with a 2-1 win over Dundee United.
Ryan Hardie had an early shot saved by Harry Lewis down low to the left before the striker tried his luck again with an effort straight at the on-loan Southampton goalkeeper.
Grant Gillespie had a shot blocked, in United’s first real foray forward before Emil Lyng tested Neil Alexander but the experienced shot-stopper was up to the task this time around.
The game was swinging from end-to-end: Billy King shot wide for Csaba Laszlo’s men before home winger Raffaele De Vita saw his attempt blocked out.
Lee Miller tried his luck from outside the box, but, his dipping effort was straight at Lewis in the visitors goal. Then, as the midway point of the opening period approached, Livi got the breakthrough.
Mark Durnan fouled Miller on the left and that allowed De Vita to swing the ball in. Dundee United failed to clear as the ball landed at the feet of Scott Robinson who curled the ball home from 20-yards to put the hosts in the lead.
The game then hit a bit of a lull but on 32 minutes, Scott Pittman had a shot blocked from distance before King tried his luck against former Hearts colleague Alexander but the Lions keeper came out on top again.
Thomas Mikkelsen was forced to come on shortly before the interval as Lyng hobbled off with a knock. This didn’t help the away side any as David Hopkin’s side continued to create chances.
De Vita fired a free-kick wide before the Italian tried his luck from way out but Lewis gathered. Nicky Cadden had the final effort of the opening period but his shot failed to hit the target.
Ryan Hardie had a headed goal disallowed during the first-half as well, for offside, as this top of the table Championship clash saw second placed Livingston laad third placed Dundee United at the break.
Matty Smith replaced Gillespie at half-time for Hungarian Laszlo’s side in an attacking change to try and swing the momentum in the Terrors favour.
Robinson dragged a shot wide before Cadden’s left-footed free-kick landed behind the goal of Harry Lewis in a slow start to the second period.
Willo Flood tried his luck from outside the penalty box, with Alexander tipping over his effort before Tam Scobbie flashed a header past the post from the resultant corner.
The game was a scrappy affair in the second-half with neither side wanting to concede the next goal. Hardie tried his luck again but Lewis kept the scoreline at 1-0.
With 16 minutes to go, the score drew level. Sam Stanton played the ball through to substitute Smith on the right and from just inside the area he beat Alexander at his near post to equalise for the Tangerines.
Jackson Longridge and Josh Mullin were brought on for Livi with just over 10 minutes remaining, replacing Cadden and De Vita on either flank. Paul McMullan also came on for Scott McDonald as Csaba Laszlo made his final change of the evening.
The game looked to be heading for a draw but Stewart Murdoch managed to produce a terrific save out of Alexander near the end, with the keeper tipping the ball round the post for a corner.
However, it was Hardie who won it as the on-loan Rangers forward smashed the ball home from just outside the area to win it for Hopkim’s side.
There was no time for United to hit back as the Lions go 6 points ahead of tonight’s opponents, as they close the gap on leaders St Mirren…for 24 hours, at least.
Scott Robinson saw a goal chalked off, despite the decision being debatable, in the second half, but, he was handed the BBC Alba Man of the Match award as the hosts left the pitch to cheers from the 1,000 or so home fans who turned up.
The visiting supporters, on the other hand, trudged out the ground as their players walked off with their heads down. Laszlo looked a frustrated figure as Hardie’s goal hit the net and the Hungarian will need to try lift his troops for another big match on Tuesday evening.
FULL-TIME: Livingston 2-1 Dundee United
1. Neil Alexander
31. Declan Gallagher
26. Craig Halkett (Captain)
4. Alan Lithgow
23. Raffaele De Vita (Josh Mullin 80′)
8. Scott Pittman
6. Shaun Byrne
17. Scott Robinson
11. Nicky Cadden (Jackson Longridge 80′)
18. Lee Miller
9. Ryan Hardie
20. Gary Maley (GK)
2. Jack McMillan
3. Jackson Longridge
5. Gregor Buchanan
7. Josh Mullin
10. Steven Boyd
14. Keaghan Jacobs
25. Harry Lewis
2. Stewart Murdoch
4. Mark Durnan
3. Tam Scobbie
17. Jamie Robson
16. Willo Flood (Captain)
24. Grant Gillespie (Matty Smith 45′)
12. Sam Stanton
8. Scott McDonald (Paul McMullan 81′)
58. Emil Lyng (Thomas Mikkelsen 38′)
11. Billy King
21. Deniz Mehmet
5. Paul Quinn
7. Paul McMullan
9. Thomas Mikkelsen
15. Craig Slater
28. Matty Smith
32. Brandon Mason
Referee: Craig Thomson