Even by the startling standards of this Livingston story, the chapter written last night was truly remarkable as Scott Pittman, the son of former Partick Thistle defender Stevie, left the Jags on the verge of relegation to the Championship.
The 25-year-old capped an all-action display in the heart of midfield by netting a dramatic late winner to secure a precious 2-1 victory for David Hopkin’s rampant Lions.
Pittman’s sixth goal of the season came after Livi veteran Keaghan Jacobs had cancelled out a well-taken opener by Thistle talisman Kris Doolan, pictured.
A stubborn Livingston side will now go to Firhill on Sunday with a return to the top flight for the first time since 2006 in their sights. Meanwhile, Partick’s five-year stay in the Premiership is hanging by a thread.
Manager Alan Archibald had turned to Doolan from the start. The veteran marksman, who climbed from the bench to score the winning goal against Dundee which assured their crack at salvation, lined up behind Conor Sammon.
The teams emerged to a raucous Almondvale, which this week had its naming deal with Italian restaurant Tony Macaroni extended for a further three years and, as the action commenced, the glorious beating sunshine was more akin to Lombardy than Lothian.
Within ten minutes, Thistle had cause for a sunny disposition of their own. Doolan showed all of his attacking nous to steal beyond the sleeping Craig Halkett to head home an inviting Baily Cargill cross.
However, every time Livi’s resolve has been tested this term they have laudably responded. This would prove to be no different as the Lions roared back. Four minutes after conceding, a Jordan Thompson delivery found Jacobs in the box and the South African belied a tight angle to fire through the weak wrists of Tomas Cerny.
The wind in their sails, Hopkin’s side came agonisingly close to completing the turnaround midway through the first period when Thompson, superb in the opening exchanges, latched on to a loose ball on the edge of the box and rifled a low effort narrowly wide.
Experienced official Craig Thomson then temporarily took centre-stage when Thompson robbed Danny Devine – the last line of defence – just outside the Thistle box and appeared to be hauled down by the Northern Irishman. As the hosts howled for a red card, the referee did not even award a free-kick.
Livi were undeterred. Cerny was forced into a sensational reflex save to deny a Lee Miller header after the towering forward was found by the superb Shaun Byrne.
Devine – already lucky to be on the pitch – was fortunate to escape with a booking for an ugly, studs-up challenge on Jackson Longridge in the early knockings of the second period.
No team registered fewer away wins during the Premiership season than Thistle – only two in the entire campaign – and only a superb point-blank save from Cerny stopped Pittman, whose dad played for the Jags between 1994 and 1996 during a career in which he also won three caps for the United States, from giving Livi the lead. Thistle appeared to have focused so much on matching Livingston’s intensity and physicality that they had stunted their own attacking flair, and they paid the penalty with 15 minutes left.
Josh Mullin, who changed the game following his introduction on the wing, hit the byeline and delivered a magnificent low cross for Pittman to convert from close range. The man who arrived from Bo’ness Juniors in 2014 is on the cusp of the top flight.