Livingston 2-2 Ross County: Home boss David Martindale has 'fire in belly' after draw

Livingston manager David Martindale says he has "fire back in his belly" and will push on to the end of the season as his side claimed a dramatic late point against fellow Scottish Premiership strugglers Ross County.

Livingston, who last won a league match on the 7 October, looked like being cut nine points adrift at the foot of the table when Simon Murray lashed in his second goal of the night for County on 85 minutes.

But Martindale's side showed they are still fighting for their beleaguered manager by hauling themselves level just three minutes later, when Jason Holt's cross was headed in by substitute Dan MacKay.

It was the second time Livingston managed to battle back from a goal down, having allowed Murray to creep behind their defence and fire in the opening goal before the break.

But Scott Pittman stabbed home from inside the box after a knock down from Kurtis Guthrie to ensure this crucial game was level by half-time.

"I was down on Saturday but half an hour after doing the television I had the fire back in my belly ready to fight," Martindale told BBC Scotland.

"I want everybody to know me and my staff are here to matchday 38. We'll deal with whatever on matchday 38. We'll give it everything we've got to stay in this league."

The significance of the game was reflected in the sides' approach after the interval as both surged forward and created good chances to nudge in front.

County's Jordan White could have scored from close range, and the best of Livingston's chances fell to Bruce Anderson inside the box, but the striker could not finish from eight yards.

After that opportunity came and went it was seemed inevitable Livingston would be punished for their profligacy, and a minute later Murray controlled a cross and smashed the ball beyond goalkeeper Michael McGovern.

It could have marked the beginning of the end for Livingston in the top flight, but a great pass from Joel Nouble, Holt's inspiration and MacKay's accurate header keeps their fight for survival alive.

Martindale's side are still bottom of the table and have not won any of their past 15 league games, but the gap to County, winless in seven in all competitions and in the relegation play-off spot, remains six points.

Albeit, Derek Adams' side have two games in hand.

Player of the match - Scott Pittman

Livingston still fighting, County questions - analysis

Given their respective poor runs and what was at stake, it was a credit to both teams that they attacked the game and produced an entertaining match.

After hinting his time may be up following Saturday's defeat by Dundee, Martindale then said he would "come out swinging" and keep fighting to keep Livingston in the league, his biggest challenge yet in his nearly four years in charge.

Twice coming from behind and the intensity of this performance suggest his players are with him on that, and they created enough opportunities to win.

The problem is they still look short in both boxes. Murray's second goal came as a result of defenders completely missing a cross and leaving the striker unmarked at the back post.

And up the other end they were profligate. Whether the manager can come up some signings before Thursday's transfer deadline remains to be seen, given his repeated comments about having little budget to work with, while also failing to attract players to a struggling side.

Ross County also played some nice stuff and created chances, but they are yet to win since Adams left mouths gaping in December with his comments about a lack of quality in his squad, and in Scottish football generally.

He has brought in new recruits to address that, and Saturday's narrow defeat at Celtic Park and this performance showed improvement. But until they get a victory there will always be the question of whether the players are behind the manager after two controversial outbursts.

Yan Dhanda's future is also crucial. The midfielder has agreed to join Hearts next season and he excelled again. Should Hearts come in with an offer to take him to Tynecastle before the end of the winter window, County's fortunes would surely suffer.

What the managers said

Livingston manager David Martindale: "It was too open for my liking. The plan wasn't to be open, but I can understand it. It took them scoring for the boys to settle down. There was tension, frustration and anxiety there. We had plenty opportunities to go on and win and the boys have to take huge credit to come back from a losing position twice."

Ross County manager Derek Adams: "We scored a fantastic goal, an outrageous finish to put us ahead. We could have gone further ahead but we didn't and allowed Livingston back in the game. That was difficult for us. Going in at 1-0 would have given us an advantage. The second half was a basketball match. With two minutes to go, we have to do better."

What's next?

Ross County host the side directly above them, St Johnstone, on Saturday in another big game (15:00 GMT), meanwhile Livingston travel to Ibrox to face Rangers at the same time.