Raith's dream goes on as they put Premiership duo in sights but play-off penalties continue to haunt Partick Thistle

Rovers book place in final after gripping night at Stark’s Park

A long night in the Lang Toun. The Premiership play-offs continue to enthral, particularly when Partick Thistle are involved.

They are a cruel mistress for Kris Doolan and his team. A penalty shoot-out was so cruel to them last season when losing to Ross County. The same fate befell them in Kirkcaldy after a stirring fightback. Trailing 2-1 to Raith Rovers from the first leg, the Jags showed admirable fortitude to win 2-1 in normal time. Raith, however, march on, winning 4-3 from 12 yards. Ross County or St Johnstone await in the final, the first leg back here on Thursday. They will discover their opponents on Sunday evening. Rovers will feel they deserve this, running Dundee United so close in the title race. There was a pitch invasion to celebrate victory.

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The first half was full of action in front of 6070 souls. Thistle’s Blair Alston opened the scoring on 16 minutes. Rovers defender Euan Murray was penalised for a handball, blocking Scott Robinson’s effort 20 yards from goal and central. Alston hit the free-kick and it took a nick off Scott Brown in the wall and flew past Kevin Dabrowski.

Raith's Kevin Dabrowski celebrates the win over Partick Thistle.Raith's Kevin Dabrowski celebrates the win over Partick Thistle.
Raith's Kevin Dabrowski celebrates the win over Partick Thistle.

Rovers regained composure. The leveller came on 29 minutes following a diligent passage of possession that ended with left-back Liam Dick flighting a cross to the opposite flank, where his fellow full-back Ross Matthews ghosted in at the back post to head home.

Thistle roared back. Raith centre-halves Dylan Corr and Murray – both by this point on yellow cards – were finding Brian Graham and Scott Robinson a handful in attack. Raith were holding on for the half-time whistle but in the only minute of stoppage time, they caved in. The untracked Graham headed the ball into Robinson, whose clever flick sent Alston through on goal. While Dabrowski saved his first effort with his legs, he tapped the rebound home to square the tie.

Thistle carried the momentum into the second half. They so nearly grabbed a third goal on 55 minutes, twice thwarted by Raith skipper Scott Brown. The midfielder hooked Aaron Muirhead’s header off the line and then deflected Dan O’Reilly’s follow-up effort on to the post.

Harry Milne was the next to test Dabrowski, striding on to a Graham through-ball, but the big Pole plunged low to save. Urged on by the away support behind the goal, the visitors looked more likely to land the next crucial goal. It should have come deep into stoppage time, but Graham scooped his shot over from close range and extra time was upon us.

The first half of extra time passed without major incident. Thistle came close on 107 minutes but a hooked Luke McBeth shot sailed agonisingly wide. They were the ones pressing now, but Dabrowski wanted penalties, saving impressively again from Milne.

Partick keeper David Mitchell saved from Brown but Jack McMillan fired wide. At 3-3, Ricco Diack hit the post. Club legend Lewis Vaughan in his testimonial year to win it. No mistake. Raith, under the stewardship of Ian Murray, are one step away from their promised land.



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