Queen’s Park 0 Partick Thistle 4: Jags thrash Spiders to set up Ayr United play-off semi-final

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The Firhill club stormed past Queen’s to advance to another two-legged tie against the Honest Men.

Partick Thistle eased to a comprehensive 4-0 victory over leg-weary Queen’s Park at Ochilview to set up a Scottish Premiership play-off semi-final tie against Ayr United.

The Jags, who held a slender one-goal advantage after edging out the Spiders 4-3 in a thrilling first-leg, completed an emphatic 8-3 aggregate victory to keep themselves in contention for a return to the top-flight after a five-year absence.

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Fans favourite Brian Graham, the scorer of Thistle’s decisive fourth goal at Firhill, volleyed the visitors in front after 14 minutes, before Scott Tiffoney’s close-range finish rounded off a neat move and Kevin Holt added a killer third before half-time. Substitute Danny Mullen’s late header sealed an impressive success for the Maryhill outfit.

Jack McMillan (right) celebrates after Kyle Turner opens the scoring for Partick Thistle.Jack McMillan (right) celebrates after Kyle Turner opens the scoring for Partick Thistle.
Jack McMillan (right) celebrates after Kyle Turner opens the scoring for Partick Thistle. | SNS Group

Thistle will now play host to Ayr next Friday, with the return leg taking place the following Friday at Somerset Park. The winner will progress to face the second bottom side in the Premiership.

Manager Kris Doolan, who tragically lost his father Lawrence in the build up to the game on Thursday, told BBC Scotland: “It was probably everything I needed. It’s been a turmoil time for me, personally. But I said to the players there afterwards there’s no better way of going out and playing in that manner and scoring those type of goals.

“That’s what I want to see us play like, that’s how I envisage us playing. We’re a real force both defensively and in attack at this level. I think that shows the strength and depth in our squad. Even when we make changes, they’re not weakening the squad. Everybody has got a part to play and the play-offs is like tournament football. You’ve got to win or you’re out.

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“We play to win every game, that’s our mentality. We were well on top and we’ve got guys that are hungry to score goals. We didn’t want to sit back and see how the game panned out. I asked the players to take the game to them and it shows we can blow teams away.

“I say this all the time but it’s a squad game and we need to utilise everybody. I fancy our chances against anybody with this squad, I believe we can go the full way.”

Among the interested spectators at Ochilview were former Celtic boss Neil Lennon, Forest Green Rovers manager Duncan Ferguson and current Dundee United head coach Jim Goodwin.

Searching for a fast start after their disappointing stoppage time defeat on Tuesday night, Queen’s Park passed up a glorious chance to open the scoring for a second successive match when Jake Davidson found himself clean through on goal but his shot was expertly saved by Jags keeper David Mitchell. The follow-up was then cleared off the line.

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Just as they had done during the first leg, Thistle capitalised soon after when Kyle Turner’s corner found the unmarked Brian Graham on the left-hand side of the box and the striker connected sweetly on the volley to rifle high into the net. It meant the towering frontman became the fifth fastest Jags player to reach 50 goals since the second world war.

The visitors doubled their lead after 28 minutes when Jack McMillan picked out Scott Tiffoney in the six-yard box and the winger was left with a simple finish to kill off any hopes of a Queen’s Park comeback.

Thistle continued on the front-foot and when Graham’s downward header from another Turner delivery was pushed away by Spiders stopper Calum Ferrie, defender Kevin Holt was on hand to force the ball home on the rebound.

It was to prove another fatal blow for the home side and Ferrie had to react smartly to save another Graham header after some sloppy defending from a Queen’s side who appeared to have ran out of steam having won just one of their last nine matches.

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Kris Doolan has been given the Partick Thistle job on a permanent basis.Kris Doolan has been given the Partick Thistle job on a permanent basis.
Kris Doolan has been given the Partick Thistle job on a permanent basis.

They required a four-goal swing to force extra-time but that never looked forthcoming, despite Owen Coyle making a triple substitution at the break and sacrificing his two centre-backs.

Tiffoney again provided a creative spark and had an effort blocked early in the second half, before Josh McPake tested Mitchell from a corner at the opposite end, with the Partick No.1 tipping the ball to safety.

Thistle probed for a fourth that would rub further salt into the Spiders wounds and it arrived eight minutes from time. Aidan Fitzpatrick had an effort saved by Ferrie, but Danny Mullen found himself in the right place to nod in from point-blank range.

Defeat in the play-offs means Queen’s Park miss out on a third successive promotion and while disappointed by the final outcome, boss Owen Coyle felt he had managed to “squeeze” every last drop of energy out of his squad over the final few weeks of the season.

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He admitted: “It’s a very disappointing end to our season. First and foremost, I feel for our fans. We probably needed to score the first goal and we should’ve again. We know where we need to improve.

“We had loads of possession without having that penetration we needed and we concede a few soft goals. We kept going in the second half, showed a bit of spirit but the bottom line is we haven’t done enough in the last few weeks to get ourselves over the line.

“It’s a hard one to take but it wasn’t to be and we wish Partick well going forward. I certainly know we squeezed every bit out of that group as much as we could. We know that we’ll be back next year bigger and better and look to be competing at the top end again.”

Queen’s Park (4-2-3-1): Ferrie, Oakley (Jarrett; 77), Fox (Bannon; 45), Kilday (Eze; 45), Robson, Longridge, Davidson, Boateng, Thomas, Healy (McPake; 45), Shields

Unused: McKenna (GK), Henderson, Moore, Reid

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Partick Thistle (4-2-3-1): Mitchell, McMillan, Holt, Brownlie, Turner, Tiffoney (Dowds; 62), Graham (Mullen; 62), Lawless (Smith; 70), Fitzpatrick (McKinnon; 77), Muirhead, Docherty (MacKenzie; 77)

Unused: Sneddon (GK), Hodson, Owens, Stevenson

Referee: Colin Steven

Attendance: 1,581

GlasgowWorld Man of the Match: Brian Graham (Partick Thistle)

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