St Mirren’s narrow victory over the Championship’s bottom club Livingston on Saturday epitomised Mark Burchill’s side’s season so far.
Not for the first time this campaign, the Lions were superior over the course of the 90 minutes, but were left pointless for their endeavours as Stephen Mallan’s first-half wonder-strike settled matters.
Liam Buchanan spurned a prime opportunity to give the hosts the lead as early as the fourth minute. The striker earned a penalty when Jack Baird clumsily fouled him, but his spot-kick came back off the post.
And the outcome was settled just eight minutes later when Mallan sent an unstoppable drive over Livi keeper Marc McCallum and into the top left corner from 25 yards.
Both Buchanan and strike partner Jordyn Sheerin had more than enough chances between them to win two games, but had an off day in front of goal.
Manger Burchill admitted afterwards that his Livi players must learn to be more clinical.
“Liam and Jo [Sheerin] had good chances and are good finishers, so they should be taking them,” he said. “We know we should have won the game.
“I’m raging to lose another match. We dominated, created a load of chances, missed a penalty ... if you’re going to lose a match then that’s probably the way to do it. If we didn’t create any chances and weren’t the better side I’d be sitting here worried thinking ‘where do I go from here’, but at the end of the day it’s about scoring goals, especially when you create such good chances, you need to take at least one.”
Livi showed great intent from the start and were rewarded inside four minutes when Buchanan, with his back towards goal, was bundled over by Baird and referee Don Robertson immediately pointed to the spot.
Despite the former Alloa striker sending St Mirren keeper Jamie Langfield the wrong way, he saw his effort come back off the left post.
And the home side were subsequently punished for passing up that golden opportunity when the ever-improving Mallan decided to try his luck from distance, cutting in past Jackson Longridge before looping a wonderful effort into McCallum’s top right-hand corner.
A misjudgment in the visitors defence just after the restart allowed Sheerin through on goal, but Baird did enough to put the striker off his stride as his effort clattered into the side netting.
The former Musselburgh Athletic frontman then rummaged through the Saints rearguard, but blasted wildly over the bar from ten yards.
Livi were in complete control and from Gary Glen corner’s, Declan Gallagher flicked the ball back in towards the danger area and there was Sheerin again as his header went straight into the arms of Langfield.
St Mirren were defending for their lives now and again Sheerin went close before Glen saw his effort flash across the face of goal.
Former Hearts defender Andy Webster proved his worth to Sains right at the death as a great last-ditch tackle prevented Buchanan from what looked a certain equaliser.
Livingston: McCallum, Gallagher, Gordon, Neill, Longridge, Glen (Georgiev 82), Pittman, Gibbons (White 58), Faria, Sheerin, Buchanan. Subs: Jamieson, Millen, Currie, Duckrell.
St Mirren: Langfield, Cuddihy, Baird, Webster, Kelly, Goodwin, Agnew (Carswell 82), Mallan, Howieson (McMullan 55), Thompson (McLear 90), Gallagher. Subs: Wilks, Conlan, Morgan, McGrath.
Referee: Don Robertson.