LIVINGSTON rounded off their fairytale season in style by earning promotion to the Premiership with victory over Partick Thistle in the Premiership play-off final.

A Keaghan Jacobs strike just after the break was enough to give David Hopkin’s men a famous win and earn promotion back to the top flight for the first time in 12 years, prevailing by three goals to one on aggregate.

They may have been the underdogs, but Livingston got exactly what they deserved from the tie and from their remarkable season. The same has to be said sadly for Thistle, who were simply not good enough over the two legs of the tie or throughout a horribly disappointing campaign.

What a difference a year makes. This time 12 months ago, the Thistle players were basking in the glory of a wonderful campaign that had seen them finish in the top six. Those same players are now facing an uncertain future as they face up to the realities of their slide into the Championship.

Managing director Ian Maxwell will now move on to take on the chief executive role at the Scottish Football Association and whether manager Alan Archibald remains in position remains to be seen. It all had a feeling of an end of an era at Firhill, but there were no such worries for Livingston’s Lions who roared their way into the Premiership.

Thistle manager Archibald shook things up after the disappointment of Thursday’s first leg, making four changes to his starting line-up. Chris Erskine and Christie Elliott shook off injuries to make the side, while Andy McCarthy came into midfield and Blair Spittal came in on the right.

Livingston went with the same side that did so well in the first-leg, but with only 15 fit bodies to choose from, David Hopkin had little room for maneuver in any case.

Much has been made of the physical approach favoured by the Championship runners-up, and Thistle had clearly decided that they would meet fire with fire as they snapped into challenges early on, with Christie Elliott earning a booking after crossing the line with a shocker of a challenge on Scott Robinson.

The match settled into a pattern of attack versus defence soon enough though as Livingston looked to protect what they had and Thistle had them penned in. For all their territorial dominance though, the only thing that Neil Alexander had to do in the opening half hour was indulge in some early time-wasting, which he dutifully carried out at every opportunity.

A run to the byline from Stevie Lawless created their best opportunity, as his dinked cross was headed wide by Erskine, but the home side were at least passing the ball immeasurably better than they had during the week.

Livi’s best chances were always likely to come from set-pieces, and Craig Halkett served Thistle a reminder of that as he nodded over from a decent area.

They had two more great openings, as a corner caused chaos in the Thistle box and the ball fell to Jordan Thompson on the penalty spot, but Kris Doolan of all people made a vital block. Shaun Byrne then robbed McCarthy in a decent area, but he hesitated before getting his shot away, allowing Adam Barton to repel his effort.

Thistle had a wonderful chance of their own just before the break as McCarthy slipped the ball into Spittal to advance on goal. With Erskine to his left in acres of space, the wide man elected to shoot and Alexander was equal to the effort.

And so it came down to the final 45 minutes of the season for Thistle to rescue their Premiership status, but it took Livingston just 35 seconds after the restart to nudge them closer to the trapdoor.

Byrne took control of the ball on the edge of the Thistle area with his back to goal and laid it perfectly into the path of Keaghan Jacobs, who produced a well-placed low finish beyond Cerny from 22 yards.

The South African just loves playing against Thistle, with all three of his goals this season coming against the Firhill side.

It was a stunning blow for the home side and their supporters, and there was no sign of an immediate response as they struggled to regain their composure.

They were too ponderous in their build up to play to cause any real concern to the well-drilled Livi backline, with Alan Lithgow in particular immense at the heart of the visiting defence.

Thistle boss Archibald went for it by leaving one man back essentially, but a Lawless shot straight at Alexander before Spittal’s low effort ended in the keeper’s arms too was just about all they could muster.

Anywhere would do for Livingston, who justifiably had given up all ambition of attacking, with Thistle leaving only Paul McGinn at the back.

Right on the 90th minute, Thistle were handed a late lifeline as Lithgow handled a shot from Conor Sammon, but the substitute could not accept the reprieve, with his tame effort from the spot being easily saved by Alexander.

It put the tin lid on a miserable season for the Jags. They had huffed and puffed, but they could not blow the Livingston wall down, leaving the underdogs to enjoy their happy ending.