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Nicky Clark burst Livingston’s bubble with an 87th minute leveller that denied David Martindale’s side what would have been a massive three points in Perth.

They had led through Andrew Shinnie’s first half goal – a rare outbreak of quality in a game that was tousy and disjointed for much of it – and had decent chances to make certain of the points before St Johnstone claimed their leveller.

As it is, this draw leaves them six points adrift at the bottom of the table while St Johnstone are 11 points ahead of struggling West Lothian side. Aberdeen’s late collapse in Paisley means that Saints leapfrog them in the table and move up to ninth.

“I think in the end this will be a good point,” said Saints manager Craig Levein. “It was two teams at the bottom end of the table, concerned about the league position and realise that if it comes to a scrap they have to roll their sleeves up and have a go.

“What you saw was the outcome of the pressure – there wasn’t much good football or calm thinking going on.

“It was a real fight and that’s down to the position the two teams are in.”

Kurtis Guthrie will rue his chance that he dragged wide after going clean through on goal while even at the death they had a chance to win it when Jason Holt blasted a wild effort over the bar after Tete Yengi teed him up on the edge of the box.

In what was a forgettable game the return of Adam Sidibeh after his collapse last weekend was the biggest positive for Levein.

It was a scrappy opening period with neither side able to fashion anything in the way of a genuine opening.

Aye Abilene had the best chance of the opening period when he just failed to connect with a deep Sean Kelly’s free-kick at the back post.

It was a portent of what was to come, however, as Livingston opened the scoring shortly afterwards.

Kelly’s corner picked out Mickey Devlin but his header was intercepted by Shinnie who, with his back to goal, hooked an effort beyond the reach of Saints goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov.

Livingston survived a VAR check after a handball shout with St Johnstone claiming Devlin had used a hand in the box,

Benjamin Kimpioka ought to have levelled things in the eighth minute of added time at the end of the opening period when he found himself in acres of time and space in the box but directed his header straight into the arms of Shamal George.

Livingston ought to have doubled their advantage after the restart when Dan MacKay’s rasping effort from the edge of the box was spilled by Mitov but Obileye couldn’t adjust his feet to manipulate the error. The ball broke to Cristiano Montano whose low effort was saved by the Saints keeper but there was a suspicion that Livingston could live to regret a failure to take their chances.

At the other end, Saints substitute Stevie May just missed connecting with a David Keltjens cross as the hosts looked to get back onto level terms.

It was Livingston who carried the most menace with Guthrie stealing the ball off of Andy Considine before slipping his effort wide with the goal at his mercy.

It was a miss that came back to haunt him and Livingston as Clark restored parity. Graham Carey’s excellent cross picked out the veteran forward who rose to bullet a header past George.

It seemed to knock the stuffing out of Livingston who will feel the pressure on the loud clicking of the clock now.

“Do I think we’ve got more than enough to stay in the league? I do. Do I think it’s going to be a huge ask? I do – I’m not going to sit here and tell lies,” said Martindale.

“If we can get into that split, we’ve got St Johnstone and Ross County, if we can get ourselves a wee bit closer then I think we’ve got a really good chance of staying in the league.

“Obviously, at that point you are navigating the play-offs, but right now I can only really focus on the team above us.”

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