Dundee United took another big step towards cinch Premiership safety with a vital 2-0 victory over Livingston at Tannadice.
The hosts stormed into the lead in the first half through Jamie McGrath before Steven Fletcher sealed the victory late on with his side’s second.
The win was United’s third in a row, with the Terrors now four points ahead of bottom side Ross County but the result ended Livingston’s top-six hopes.
The early stages of the game were an even affair with both sides struggling to gain a foothold with too many misplaced passes.
There was finally a half-chance for Livingston when Bruce Anderson played in Nicky Devlin inside the United box but he shot wide under defensive pressure.
Instead, it was the hosts who opened the scoring with their first opportunity of the game in the 17th minute when Ian Harkes teed up McGrath who sent a superb low shot from 22 yards flying past Livi goalkeeper Shamal George and into the bottom corner.
The hosts came close to doubling their advantage shortly after when Fletcher headed down into the path of Ilmari Niskanen but George made a vital save, pushing the Finn’s close-range shot wide for a corner.
Livi were toiling to make any impact on the game with home keeper Mark Birighitti a virtual spectator.
However, United suffered a big blow in the 31st minute when goalscorer McGrath had to go off injured and was replaced by Kai Fotheringham.
The Lions had a chance to equalise in first-half stoppage time but Stephen Kelly sent his 25-yard free-kick flying into the stands behind Birighitti’s goal.
Livi were the first to threaten after the break when Steven Bradley tried his luck from long range but his shot fizzed wide.
Fletcher then had an opportunity for the home side when he was teed up by Aziz Behich but the striker scooped his shot over the bar.
Livingston hit straight back with Andrew Shinnie firing a fierce low drive that a relieved Birighitti gathered at the second attempt.
There was a flashpoint in the 58th minute when the Terrors’ Loick Ayina clattered into Anderson with the respective managers David Martindale and Jim Goodwin exchanging words on the touchline.
As the clock ticked down, both sides were struggling to fashion clear-cut chances; however, United finally created one in the 85th minute and took it as Fotheringham won the ball from Cristian Montano and put it on a plate for Fletcher who made no mistake, rifling a shot low past George.