SPFL play-off drama across Scotland as ties left finely poised following first legs

Premiership tie is all square as Dumbarton and Spartans take narrow lead

Airdrie and Partick Thistle served up an entertaining 2-2 first-leg draw to leave the cinch Premiership play-off quarter-final in the balance.

Nikolay Todorov gave Airdrie an early lead but Luke McBeth's spectacular strike sparked a turnaround that was completed by Scott Robinson in the final minute of the first half. The Diamonds also scored in the fifth minute of the second half through Gabby McGill and both sides had chances to take an advantage into Friday night's second leg at Firhill.

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Airdrie are going for a second play-off success in a row while Kris Doolan's side aim to go one better than last year, when they hit 19 goals in the Premiership play-offs, only to be undone by three Ross County goals in the the last 20 minutes of regulation time of the final and a penalty shoot-out. Thistle's 4-0 win over Airdrie last month proved the difference between the teams in the Championship table but the home side made by far the brighter start in Lanarkshire as the teams vie for a semi-final against Raith Rovers.

Airdrie's Kanayo Megwa and Partick Thistle's Harry Milne in action during the cinch Premiership play-off quarter final first leg.Airdrie's Kanayo Megwa and Partick Thistle's Harry Milne in action during the cinch Premiership play-off quarter final first leg.
Airdrie's Kanayo Megwa and Partick Thistle's Harry Milne in action during the cinch Premiership play-off quarter final first leg.

Todorov had already missed a half chance before rising above Harry Milne to head home Charlie Telfer's cross at the far post. Thistle allowed Airdrie two free headers from consecutive set-pieces and Cammy Ballantyne was frustrated to head over from the second chance. The hosts continued to dominate and Thistle goalkeeper David Mitchell held Adam Frizzell's powerful effort at the second attempt.

The visitors' equaliser came from nowhere. McBeth dispossessed Todorov as Airdrie tried to play the ball out of their half and the centre-half drove forward before unleashing a brilliant shot into the top corner from 30 yards. It was the 24-year-old's first goal in professional football having joined from Glenafton in January.

The chances continued at both ends. Mitchell stopped Telfer's powerful strike with his foot, Robbie Hemfrey spilled Milne's long-range effort but Brian Graham could not react quickly enough, and Todorov volleyed over from a tricky angle. But the visitors were on top in the latter stages of the half and Hemfrey stopped Graham's strike before failing to react to Jack McMillan's lofted ball seconds later. Robinson ghosted in behind to stab the ball home as it landed three yards from goal.

Airdrie finished the stronger side though and subs Calum Gallagher, Arron Lyall plus Hancock all threatened, but the tie remains in the balance ahead of Friday’s return leg at Firhill.

Both Championship play-offs are also finely poised after the first legs on Tuesday night. Montrose and Inverness Caledonian Thistle drew 0-0 at Links Park, while Alloa Athletic and Hamilton Accies played out an entertaining 2-2 stalemate in Clackmannanshire. Euan Henderson put Accies in front on 31 minutes but the Wasps hit back early in the second period through Taylor Steven and Kurtis Roberts. However, Kevin O’Hara equalised on 77 minutes ahead of Saturday’s second legs.

In the League One play-offs, Blair Henderson’s 93rd-minute penalty gave Spartans a 2-1 first-leg win over Peterhead. The Blue Toon had taken the lead through Conor O’Keefe early on before Paul Watson levelled for the capital club. Dumbarton lead Stirling Albion 2-1 in the other tie after James Hilton and Anthony Wallace netted either side Dale Hilson’s goal for the Binos at the C&G Systems Stadium. The second legs will also be played on Saturday.



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