There will be at least one first-time finalist in the Ramsdens Cup this season after Partick Thistle, Arbroath and Cowdenbeath booked their first-ever semi-final berths and it could be two, if Rangers defeat Queen of the South next Tuesday.
Three goals in eight second-half minutes saw the Jags defeat visitors Raith Rovers 3-0, while Arbroath survived a last minute penalty scare to defeat Stenhousemuir 1-0, and the Fifers saw off stiff resistance from East Stirlingshire to win 2-1.
Raith were dealt a blow in the build-up ahead of their tie at Firhill when goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw, who was due to replace the suspended David McGurn, was injured and the Kirkcaldy side had to bring in Allan Fleming from Junior side Kelty Hearts.
Fleming kept his goal intact throughout the opening half, but Thistle made the vital breakthrough five minutes after the break when Steven Craig broke clear on the left and crossed for Chris Erskine, with the winger taking a touch before placing his shot into the net.
Three minutes later, Jackie McNamara’s side had a foot firmly planted in the last four when Erskine turned provider with a cross from the right and Craig netted from close range.
Erskine sealed the win on 58 minutes when he accepted a pass from Paul Paton and sent the ball past Fleming with a delightful curling finish.
Arbroath reached their first semi since a League Cup encounter against Third Lanark in 1959 when they defeated their ten-man visitors at Gayfield.
The Red Lichties had hit the woodwork twice before their perseverance was rewarded on 34 minutes when Scott Robertson nodded in after a corner by player/manager Paul Sheerin had been flicked on by Alex Keddie.
Stenhousemuir striker John Gemmell was shown a straight red card four minutes into the second half after a clash with Stuart Malcolm. However, the Warriors refused to lie down and it looked like extra time would be needed after Keddie fouled Stewart Kean in the box in the dying seconds.
However, the Stenhousemuir striker sent the resultant spot-kick over the bar. much to the home side’s relief.
Cowdenbeath just squeezed past Shire, with defender Kenny Adamson’s goal five minutes from half-time proving to be the difference between the sides.
The opening goal came in ten minutes when Jamie Stevenson’s corner was met by a first-time volley from Blue Brazil player/manager Colin Cameron, and Marc McKenzie flicked his drive home from four yards out.
Shire equalised on 24 minutes when Michael Herd sent a low corner over and David Greenhill knocked it on for on-loan St Mirren youngster Sean Kelly to sweep home from six yards out.
The Central Park side almost snatched the lead when Kevin Turner crashed a 25-yard shot off a post. But what proved to be the winner came when the Shire defence failed to clear the ball and McKenzie whipped over a cross from the right that Adamson knocked home from eight yards out.
The second half was a much tighter affair, with Thomas Flynn doing well to push away a swerving Scott Maxwell effort with ten minutes left to help the First Division side through.