Callum Hendry’s third-minute penalty helped St. Johnstone secure a back-to-back win for the first time this season at the Sinclair Premiership with a 1-0 win over Livingston at McDermide Park.
In-form striker Max Strijeck lowered his spot-kick in the middle of the goal after Livingston defender Jack Fitzwater ruled he was caught in a stray arm while challenging for the ball in the air.
Hendry has now scored seven goals in 11 games since returning from Kilmarnock’s Lone Spell in January to begin the campaign for St. Johnstone, a win that puts them just six points behind 10th-ranked St. Mirren.
Meanwhile, Livingston moved to eighth place after three consecutive defeats.
St. Johnstone manager Callum Davidson stuck with the same team that last beat Motherwell 2-1, while Livingston boss David Martindale picked up just one change with Sebastian Soto at 2-0 to Harts in their last match before the international break. Odin Bailey is coming up in the starting line-up.
The hosts snatched the trap and took the lead in the third minute of the game with a goal in their first attempt.
When Livingston struggled to clear their lines after a free-kick, Fitzwater challenged Hendry to an airy ball and he was judged by referee Kevin Clancy for grabbing him by the elbow who pointed to the spot without hesitation.
And Hendry converted right from 12 yards, Strijek dived to his right and drilled into the center of the goal.
Livingstone responded well to the first setback and Soto provided the first real challenge in a short shot for St. Johnstone goalkeeper Gender Clarke who was well defeated.
But despite the dominance, they struggled to make something clear, as St. Johnstone, who lost to Tony Gallagher due to injury, seemed content to lead them and play a counter-attack.
As the first half drew to a close, the Perth team almost doubled their lead, with Strijek descending from 20 yards to save left-footed Ali Crawford’s strike.
As the second half began, Nadir Siftci was on the verge of approaching the hosts, scoring a header wide just outside the six-yard box.
Home Support then conveyed their feelings to referee Clancy when James Penris was only booked for a late luncheon at Dan Cleary, who continued even after finally receiving treatment.
With Livingston substitute Bailey having five minutes left, either side created something more in an unpleasant second period before a golden opportunity to save a point.
Fellow substitute Andrew Shini found him well in the middle of the box but his shot was very close to Clark who defended it comfortably.
Livingston had a final chance to draw deep in extra time but O’Brien went wide as the hosts watched the match to ensure an invaluable win which gave them a real hope of avoiding a relegation play-off.
St. Johnstone travels to Celtic, while Livingston hosts Motherwell, both Scottish Premiership matches begin at 3pm on 9 April.