17 May Livingston seize initiative in play-off final
Livingston are one game away from Premiership football after seeing off Partick Thistle 2-1 in the first leg of the play-off final.
No team has been promoted through the play-offs since 2014, but David Hopkin’s side are just a draw away from the top flight after a deserved win over Thistle.
They came into the final on a high after seeing off Dundee United, but after Kris Doolan scored early on it looked as though it could be a long evening for the West Lothian outfit.
However, Keaghan Jacobs scored and Scott Pittman added a second after the break on a night when the hosts missed several chances to put the tie out of sight, despite going behind early on.
Doolan had already threatened inside the area and he did not need a second invitation as he gleefully accepted Baily Cargill’s brilliant cross from deep on the left to head into the corner.
If any Livi fans were concerned their team could get blown away by the Premiership outfit, they were soon reassured as they regrouped quickly to hit back just three minutes later.
It took an error from goalkeeper Tomas Cerny to level the scores, but it was Jacobs who claimed the goal after hitting a first-time effort back across Cerny from the right. The Thistle stopper could not get a firm enough hand to the ball and saw it slip through his grasp into the goal.
Livingston have attracted attention for their physical approach this season, but there were hefty challenges flying in from both sides. However, the hosts’ direct approach was paying off as the Jags dropped deeper inside their own half.
Jordan Thompson should have hit the target when he drilled wide before Cerny pulled off a brilliant save to keep out Lee Miller’s header as Thistle continued to live dangerously.
The pace dropper after the break, but once again it was the second tier side who started to dominate as the game went on against a Thistle side that looked short on ideas and bereft of confidence.
Pittman, who scored a memorable winner at Tannadice in the semi-finals, almost gave the Lions the lead just after the hour, but Cerny got down well to save with his feet after a jinking run from halfway.
The hosts soon had the advantage they deserved after substitute Josh Mullin burst down the right and drilled a low ball across the area from the byline and Pittman made the run to the near post to prod it into the roof of the net.
After seeing out the remainder of the game, Livingston ensured they would only need a draw at Firhill on Sunday to secure their place in the top flight.