Dundee United’s survival hopes hit by defeat at Livingston
Dundee United slumped to a third straight defeat to stand on the brink of relegation from the Premiership.
The Tangerines have lost all three games since the league split last month and are two points adrift at the foot of the table with just two matches remaining.
Jim Goodwin’s side now face a massive encounter on Wednesday with Kilmarnock, who are three points ahead in the safety of 10th spot.
Bruce Anderson fired Livingston into the lead after just 10 minutes but Ian Harkes restored parity just 10 minutes later.
However, James Penrice earned the hosts a first victory in four outings with a 59th-minute winner.
Visiting full-back Aziz Behich was then shown two yellow cards in quick succession to see red in injury-time.
Desperate for points, United started at a hectic pace and won a corner after just 15 seconds.
When that came to nothing, they kept pressing for an early opener and the Livi defence had to look smart to block a sixth-minute shot from Behich.
But it was the home side who earned the breakthrough after just 10 minutes.
Loick Ayina and goalkeeper Mark Birighitti got into a mess trying to deal with a long punt forward from Cristian Montano.
As Birighitti waited for the bouncing ball to reach his box, Anderson nipped in between the dithering duo and swept a fantastic left-foot shot into the empty net from the left side of the area.
Luiyi De Lucas then had the ball in the net just 10 minutes later, only for referee Don Robertson to spot a handball.
De Lucas was also involved at the other end as United restored parity in the 21st minute.
The defender got his head to a hooked high ball from Rory MacLeod but could only nod it half clear to the edge of the area.
Harkes was first to the ball and hammered a stunning left-foot volley into the bottom corner of the net from 20 yards out.
It was end to end stuff and Stephen Kelly screwed a shot wide after a brilliant run and shot, and Montano whistled another effort wide either side of another Harkes shot that was deflected wide.
The opening to the second period was a tamer affair and Livi were the first to threaten in the 50th minute.
It was only really a half-chance for the hosts as Stephen Kelly drilled in from distance but it was straight at Birighitti, who held on.
But 13 minutes into the second-half Livi earned the advantage for a second time.
Jamie McGrath complained when Montano beat him to a header but referee Don Robertson waved play on and Anderson nodded to the supporting Penrice.
He still had plenty to do but fired a brilliant shot on the bounce into the far corner from just inside the area.
Only two minutes later, Anderson came close to a third for Livi but pushed his shot wide with Stephane Omeonga in space to his right.
United’s desperation for an equaliser increased as time went on and substitute Miller Thomson drew a save from home keeper Shamal George with a shot from a tight angle with eight minutes remaining.
George then saved with his feet from replacement Peter Pawlett as United piled on the pressure in the closing stages.
But Livi held on and United’s misery was compounded three minutes into injury-time when Behich was red-carded for apparent dissent.