Partick Thistle 1-2 Raith Rovers: Ian Murray's side seize play-off advantage after strikes from Scott Brown and Lewis Vaughan

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 14: Raith Rovers' Lewis Vaughan celebrates after scoring to make it 2-0 during a cinch Premiership play-off semi-final first leg match between Partick Thistle and Raith Rovers at Wyre Stadium at Firhill, on May 14, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 14: Raith Rovers' Lewis Vaughan celebrates after scoring to make it 2-0 during a cinch Premiership play-off semi-final first leg match between Partick Thistle and Raith Rovers at Wyre Stadium at Firhill, on May 14, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 14: Raith Rovers' Lewis Vaughan celebrates after scoring to make it 2-0 during a cinch Premiership play-off semi-final first leg match between Partick Thistle and Raith Rovers at Wyre Stadium at Firhill, on May 14, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
Raith Rovers defeat Partick Thistle 2-1 in Premiership play-off semi-final first leg tie to hold advantage heading back to Stark’s Park this Friday.

Raith Rovers’ hopes of setting up a play-off finish clash with the Premiership’s second bottom side got off to the perfect start on Tuesday night as they defeated Partick Thistle 2-1 at Firhill.

Excellent first-half strikes from captain Scott Brown and Lewis Vaughan ensured that Ian Murray’s team – who finished second in Championship – head back to Stark’s Park with a strong advantage ahead of Friday night’s return fixture.

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It was the hosts, who overcame Airdrieonians in the quarter-finals, that started the better in front of sizeable home support with Brian Graham and Aidan Fitzpatrick both going close in the early stages.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 14: Raith Rovers' Scott Brown celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 during a cinch Premiership play-off semi-final first leg match between Partick Thistle and Raith Rovers at Wyre Stadium at Firhill, on May 14, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 14: Raith Rovers' Scott Brown celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 during a cinch Premiership play-off semi-final first leg match between Partick Thistle and Raith Rovers at Wyre Stadium at Firhill, on May 14, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 14: Raith Rovers' Scott Brown celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 during a cinch Premiership play-off semi-final first leg match between Partick Thistle and Raith Rovers at Wyre Stadium at Firhill, on May 14, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

But it was Rovers who seized the advantage 22 minutes into proceedings when captain Brown expertly struck home in the box, latching onto a defensive header.

Much like his wondergoal against Dundee United earlier in the campaign, it was a striker’s finish from the veteran midfielder – who left David Mitchell with no chance.

The opener rocked Thistle, who had already picked up two yellow cards, and Murray’s men began to look more comfortable on the ball.

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It should have been two when Aidan Connolly found himself in a great position on the counter attack but he shot when he simply had to feed the ball across to Sam Stanton – who was free.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 14: Partick Thistle's Jack McMillan and Raith Rovers' Kyle Turner during a cinch Premiership play-off semi-final first leg match between Partick Thistle and Raith Rovers at Wyre Stadium at Firhill, on May 14, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 14: Partick Thistle's Jack McMillan and Raith Rovers' Kyle Turner during a cinch Premiership play-off semi-final first leg match between Partick Thistle and Raith Rovers at Wyre Stadium at Firhill, on May 14, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MAY 14: Partick Thistle's Jack McMillan and Raith Rovers' Kyle Turner during a cinch Premiership play-off semi-final first leg match between Partick Thistle and Raith Rovers at Wyre Stadium at Firhill, on May 14, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

Striker Vaughan also passed up a decent chance on the spin at the near post when he fired wide from Liam Dick’s low cross.

Up the other end, Kerr McInroy passed up a great opportunity when he found himself free, but he fired his effort just wide of Kevin Dabrowski’s far post.

But it was Rovers who looked the more likely and they doubled their advantage four minutes before the break when Vaughan powered home.

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It was another excellent goal: on the breakaway, the ball eventually came into the box and Stanton showed his skill to dummy the ball – allowing Vaughan to slam home in front of goal.

In the second half, Rovers began to soak up pressure from the hosts who were looking for a way back into the tie, with Graham seeing a flashing header diverted wide for a corner kick just before the hour mark.

But the best chance actually fell to goalscorer Vaughan, who did well to cut inside and curl an effort goalward, with Mitchell helpless as the ball just arrowed past the post.

Former Thistle ace Kyle Turner also saw an effort just miss the target, when he looked to curl home after being presented with the ball on the edge of the area.

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The hosts did grab a crucial goal back with 17 minutes to go when Rovers failed to clear their lines, allowing substitute Blair Alston to slot home past Dabrowski.

He was played through on goal after Scott Robinson showed his ingenuity to somehow divert a header to his teammate when he was planted to the surface.

And after this, it was Thistle who were well on top, and it felt like it was only time before the tie was levelled up.

Dabrowski pulled off a stunning reflex save to deny Graham, who looked destined to score when he latched onto Alston’s inch-perfect free kick.

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The Polish stopper also made another stunning stop late on, this time to deny a goalbound effort from Alston.

But Murray’s men managed to hold out, and secure an impressive win that puts them into the driving seat heading into Friday’s night rematch under the lights in Kirkcaldy.

Teams

Partick Thistle: Mitchell, McMillan, Milne, Muirhead, Neilson, McInroy, Graham, Robinson, McBeth, Fitzpatrick, Stanway.

Subs: Stewart, Bannigan, Ngwenya, O’Reilly, Alston (73’), MacKenzie, Diack, Campbell, Loney.

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Raith Rovers: Dabrowski, Dick, Watson, Murray, Matthews, S Brown (22’), Byrne, Turner, Stanton, Connolly, Vaughan (41’).

Subs: McNeil, J Brown, Smith, Mullin, Corr, Hamilton, Easton, McGIll, Rudden.

Referee: Chris Graham.

Attendance: 5,497.

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