St Johnstone face a relegation play-off tie after Jack Fitzwater’s last-minute equaliser secured Livingston a 1-1 draw at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Fitzwater cancelled out Glenn Middleton’s opener to leave Saints, who cannot catch 10th-placed Aberdeen, six points above bottom-placed Dundee with two games remaining.
Middleton bundled home fellow substitute James Brown’s cross at the back post for his first league goal of the season, before Fitzwater fired the hosts level in the dying seconds from a rebound after Zander Clark had brilliantly kept out an initial effort from Scott Pittman.
Livingston boss David Martindale had unsurprisingly named an unchanged side on the back of two impressive victories against Aberdeen and Hibernian, while his opposite number Callum Davidson made three alterations after last weekend’s poor 1-0 defeat at home to St Mirren – with Dan Cleary, Stevie May and Cammy MacPherson all coming in.
It was the away side who almost went in front within the first 30 seconds, as Melker Hallberg sent in a dangerous low cross but Callum Hendry could only clip over from six yards.
Livingston were next to go close in an entertaining opening five-minute period, with Joel Nouble skewing a shot wide before May shot straight at Ivan Konovalov following a swift counter-attack for the visitors.
After this hugely open early start to proceedings, the match settled down with Saints enjoying more of the ball without creating much in the way of chances until Konovalov was called into action again just after the half-hour mark, clawing away a dangerous Cleary flick-on from a Shaun Rooney long throw.
The tireless May then went down in the box as he chased a stray ball alongside Ayo Obileye but referee Willie Collum was uninterested, much to the frustration of Saints manager Davidson.
Livi then enjoyed their best spell of the match, with Odin Bailey seeing an effort deflected wide before Andrew Shinnie fired wildly over after a strong mazy run from Nouble.
As the momentum continued to swing back and forth, Saints put together their best move of the game, which culminated in the tireless May shooting just wide from the edge of the area as the teams went in level at the break.
Livingston should have gone ahead in the 56th minute as Obileye’s ball put Bailey clean through on goal but Clark made a crucial save with his foot.
Martindale introduced Alan Forrest who almost made an instant impact, cutting in from the left and curling a right-foot shot inches wide of the far post.
Moments later, it was the away side’s substitutes who combined to make the difference.
After good work down the left from Rooney, Brown sent in a delicious inswinging cross which was met by Middleton, whose header beat Konovalov despite his best efforts.
That looked to have earned the away side all three points but they were not able to hold on.
In the 90th minute, Pittman’s header was brilliantly saved once again by Clark, but he was unable to prevent Fitzwater from firing home the rebound as Livi levelled.
There was still time for St Johnstone to come close to a winner but Konovalov kept out Hendry and Middleton in added time as the points were shared.
What the managers said
Livingston manager David Martindale: “We were a bit lethargic today, I thought in the first half, but I need to give St Johnstone a bit of credit as well.
“I thought it had 0-0 written on it all day long then we don’t defend the back area and we allow a left-wing back to come in on his right foot.
“Fair play to the lads, the game could have petered out at 1-0 but they fought really hard and got back into the game, and created chances to try and win the game of football.
“If it had ended 0-0, fans were probably wanting their money back but they’ve got two goals so they can’t ask for it back now!”
St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: “I’ll sum it up between last week and this week – I’m a lot happier with the boys’ performance, I thought we tried to play, we tried to get on the ball and move it and cause Livingston problems.
“The late goal might be relevant, obviously we need to make sure we get two good results but we knew where we were with other results so it didn’t really make a difference.
“I don’t like losing when we don’t have a go and don’t play well enough and that was last week. It was really disappointing last week and I was pleased with the reaction from the players today.
“Glenn Middleton came on and gave us a wee spark and I thought Stevie May was good. I played him today because I thought he would get in behind and he would work hard and he did that.
“We had a chance at the end (through Callum Hendry), obviously I’m disappointed with the goal but a lot happier with the performance.”
Livingston visit St Mirren on Wednesday night in the Scottish Premiership; kick-off 7.45pm. Aberdeen are at St Johnstone the same evening, with the same kick-off time.