Partick Thistle are within the field seat for a return to the cinch Premiership following their 2-0 play-off remaining first leg win over 10-player Ross County at Firhill.
Jags winger Aidan Fitzpatrick opened the scoring within the ninth minute with a terrific strike earlier than 16-year-old Staggies defender Dylan Smith was despatched off by referee David Munro eight minutes later for denying an apparent goalscoring alternative, after the official upgraded a yellow card to pink following the intervention of the VAR Andrew Dallas.
Thistle’s 35-year-old striker Brian Graham volleyed in a second for the Championship outfit simply earlier than the break to take his season tally to 21 and the house facet may and may have scored extra in opposition to a staff a person down for many of the recreation.
Nevertheless, Kris Doolan’s ingenious facet – now unbeaten in 11 video games – will journey to Dingwall for the second leg on Sunday, buoyed with confidence whereas Malky Mackay’s males should dig deep if they’re to retain their top-flight standing.
Thistle, the primary membership to achieve a Premiership play-off remaining after ending fourth within the second tier, exploded into the sport.
Winger Steve Lawless’ drive after skipping previous Smith was saved by Staggies keeper Ross Laidlaw for a nook which he held.
Nevertheless, the house facet have been quickly forward.
Fitzpatrick took a crossfield go from Lawless, nipped in between Victor Loturi and Owura Edwards and from 16 yards curled the ball previous Laidlaw into the far nook of the web earlier than taking the acclaim of the followers.
Extra drama adopted.
Smith was initially booked by Munro for fouling Fitzpatrick on the sting of the field as he tried to race by way of on purpose.
Nevertheless, after going off to examine the pitch facet monitor – VAR was in operation for the primary time at Firhill – the referee returned to flash a pink and the guests have been right down to 10 males, with defender Keith Watson instantly approaching for striker Alex Samuel earlier than skipper Ross Docherty lifted the free-kick effectively over the bar.
Within the thirty fourth minute Graham related with a Kyle Turner nook however Laidlaw was down neatly to avoid wasting.
County edged ahead as typically as they might however they appeared prone to shedding a second, with Graham thundering a drive over from the sting of the field.
The previous Ross County and Dundee United ahead was rather more correct from one other Turner nook, volleying in from 12 yards to ship the Glasgow facet into the break on a excessive.
Ben Purrington changed George Harmon, who had been booked, for the beginning of the second half because the Dingwall facet regarded to maintain themselves within the tie however inside minutes Thistle’s Kevin Holt had volleyed over the Staggies crossbar from eight yards.
Thistle then swarmed everywhere in the guests and may have added to their lead.
Graham had a goal-bound drive blocked for a nook by centre-back Jack Randall earlier than Scott Tiffoney additionally noticed his effort from contained in the field hit County defender Connor Randall after which Laidlaw in some way stored out a close-range header from Graham.
County hinted at a risk often and within the sixty fourth minute Jags defender Aaron Muirhead brilliantly blocked a shot from Staggies ahead Jordan White.
The Dingwall facet pushed for a lifeline which by no means arrived, the house facet ending in management with substitute Danny Mullen cracking the bar with a robust drive and they’ll certainly journey to Dingwall on Sunday extra in perception than hope.
What the managers stated…
Partick Thistle boss Kris Doolan:
“It was an excellent win for us – but it surely may have been extra. In case you’d provided us 2-0 earlier than the sport, we’d clearly have taken your hand off. Nevertheless it may have been extra. To me, it possibly ought to have been extra.
“A part of that’s right down to Ross County defending effectively and throwing their our bodies on the road.
“Their goalie additionally made save on the finish to tip one on to the bar. If we had managed to get a 3rd, it’d effectively have been a special recreation.
“However we all know it is not over. There’s nonetheless one other recreation to be performed on Sunday. We solely have a method of enjoying – and we’ll exit and look to do the identical in Dingwall.
“We all know that if we will go there and win the sport, we can be again within the Premiership.”
Ross County supervisor Malky Mackay:
“We began pretty brightly and created a few half probabilities.
“However we misplaced a nasty purpose. It was an ideal strike from Fitzpatrick however poor defending from our lads that have been out dealing with it.
“I believed we have been doing okay at that time however then we misplaced younger Dylan.
“He is an ideal child and has been terrific in his first season as a professional however looking back he is nicked the boy and it was a sending off.
“That clearly offers us a mountain to climb.
“We then lose the purpose simply earlier than half-time and after I received the boys again inside, I stated to them the problem was to ensure we come out right here no worse than two-down.
“I did not need us to sink in to our personal penalty field as that will have simply been carnage. So to see us threaten them a number of instances was what I wanted.
“Second half I used to be actually pleased with them and at solely two-down, there’s lots to play for on Sunday.”
The edges will meet once more on Sunday on the World Vitality Stadium, dwell on Sky Sports activities. Kick-off 4.30pm.