Partick Thistle 2-0 Ross County: Championship side well placed for promotion

Partick Thistle 2-0 Ross County: Championship side well placed for promotion

Special strikes from Aidan Fitzpatrick and Brian Graham earned Partick Thistle a first-leg win over 10-man Ross County in the Scottish Premiership play-off final.

Fitzpatrick expertly arced in an early shot before his run led to Dylan Smith’s dismissal for a clumsy challenge.

With depleted County on the ropes, Graham doubled the lead with a wonderful volley.

The visitors’ goal led a charmed life throughout the second half, leaving them with hopes of retaining their top-flight status in Sunday’s return leg in Dingwall.

Thistle are the first team to make the final after finishing fourth in the Championship, while no side outside the top two in the second tier has ever gone up through the play-offs.

The Glasgow side are well placed to change that, having taken their tally of play-off goals to 18 in five games.

Brian Graham volleys Partick Thistle into a 2-0 lead on the stroke of half time
Brian Graham volleys Partick Thistle into a 2-0 lead on the stroke of half-time

The hosts have lost just once in 18 matches since Kris Doolan took over as manager in mid-February and were on the front foot straight away.

Stevie Lawless cut in from right to have a lash, with his fizzing strike beaten away by Ross Laidlaw.

A raucous Firhill exploded soon after when Fitzpatrick jinked between two defenders on the left edge of the penalty area before curling a sweet shot into the opposite corner.

The impressive Fitzpatrick then nipped the ball past Smith only to be sent tumbling by a mistimed swipe from the 16-year-old, who was initially booked.

Referee David Munro was invited to review the incident and soon upgraded the colour of card from yellow to red for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity with just 17 minutes gone.

A Graham volley from a corner had Laidlaw juggling the ball on the line, but the keeper held on.

However, that was just a warm-up for the veteran striker, who cracked in a near identical effort in first-half stoppage time, leaping high to smash the ball home from 12 yards out.

Kevin Holt prodded over the top after the interval and Graham nodded wide as Thistle sought to kill the contest.

The County defence then produced three frantic blocks in quick succession to prevent more damage, with Laidlaw reacting well to keep out a Graham header.

The busy keeper later kept his side in the tie, tipping a Danny Mullen shot on to the crossbar deep in time added on.

County chose to start a patched up Jordan White, who suffered a nasty cut to his head during Sunday’s loss at Kilmarnock.

The towering striker twice came close in the second half, with his near post flick deflected off target and a shot on the turn thwarted by a lunging Aaron Muirhead.

The Highland side battled hard to avoid shipping a third goal but will need a marked improvement in service to White to avoid the drop.

Player of the match – Brian Graham

Brian Graham led the line with vigour and no little skill, the 35-year-old tormenting his former club
The 35-year-old led the line with vigour and no little skill, tormenting his former club for 84 minutes

Can County keep Thistle at bay in Dingwall? – analysis

It’s hard to imagine Thistle sitting in trying to protect their lead on Sunday since Doolan is always encouraging his players to be so positive.

Fitzpatrick and Scott Tiffoney are capable of wreaking havoc on the break if County leave gaps at the back and Graham is having a sensational season with 21 goals to his name.

Malky Mackay will be relieved to still be in touch after his game plan was thrown into disarray at 1-0 down and down a man so early. With only seven substitutes at Firhill and Owura Edwards now suspended along with Smith, his options will be limited.

Outnumbered and outplayed for so much of the first leg, the experienced manager must find a way to grab a couple of goals while keeping Thistle’s effervescent runners in check and that is going to be extremely tough.

What did they say?

Partick Thistle manager Kris Doolan: “We’ve got boys who have been over the course before. We know what’s at stake. There’s no panicking from us.

“Aidan Fitzpatrick has all the attributes to play for big, big clubs. He makes the goal look easier than it is. I said it before the game that you need big players to score you big goals, and Brian Graham is certainly one of those for us.”

Ross County manager Malky Mackay: “I told the players at half-time that the challenge was to get us out of here with two [goals conceded] and give us a chance up in Dingwall.

“It’s half-time and there’s 90 minutes to go. We were 2-0 down at half-time against St Johnstone in Dingwall last week and we scored three in 45 minutes. I want them focused on Sunday.”

What’s next?

County host Thistle in Dingwall on Sunday (16:30 BST) with their top-flight status on the line.


Partick Thistle

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 31Mitchell
  • 2McMillan
  • 22Muirhead
  • 5Brownlie
  • 4Holt
  • 6Turner
  • 23Docherty
  • 11LawlessSubstituted forBanniganat 75′minutes
  • 7Tiffoney
  • 21FitzpatrickSubstituted forMackenzieat 84′minutes
  • 9GrahamSubstituted forMullenat 84′minutes


  • 1Sneddon
  • 8Bannigan
  • 10Dowds
  • 14Smith
  • 15McKinnon
  • 19Mullen
  • 25Owens
  • 29Mackenzie
  • 30Stevenson

Ross County

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 1Laidlaw
  • 2Randall
  • 5Baldwin
  • 30SmithBooked at 17mins
  • 7Edwards
  • 22TillsonBooked at 41minsSubstituted forCancolaat 54′minutes
  • 14LoturiSubstituted forKennehat 74′minutes
  • 16HarmonBooked at 45minsSubstituted forPurringtonat 45′minutes
  • 10Dhanda
  • 25SamuelSubstituted forWatsonat 18′minutes
  • 26WhiteSubstituted forMurrayat 74′minutes


  • 3Purrington
  • 4Cancola
  • 11Sims
  • 15Watson
  • 17Murray
  • 21Munro
  • 42Kenneh

David Munro


Live Text

  1. Match ends, Partick Thistle 2, Ross County 0.

  2. Second Half ends, Partick Thistle 2, Ross County 0.

  3. Attempt saved. Danny Mullen (Partick Thistle) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Aaron Muirhead.

  4. Ross Docherty (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  5. Foul by Yan Dhanda (Ross County).

  6. Attempt blocked. Jack McMillan (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kyle Turner.

  7. Foul by Zander Mackenzie (Partick Thistle).

  8. Nohan Kenneh (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  9. Attempt blocked. Danny Mullen (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Zander Mackenzie.

  10. Danny Mullen (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  11. Foul by Yan Dhanda (Ross County).

  12. Substitution, Partick Thistle. Zander Mackenzie replaces Aidan Fitzpatrick.

  13. Substitution, Partick Thistle. Danny Mullen replaces Brian Graham.

  14. Attempt blocked. Brian Graham (Partick Thistle) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Scott Tiffoney with a cross.

  15. Attempt saved. Scott Tiffoney (Partick Thistle) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Kyle Turner.

  16. Ross Docherty (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Foul by Owura Edwards (Ross County).

  18. Substitution, Partick Thistle. Stuart Bannigan replaces Steven Lawless.

  19. Substitution, Ross County. Nohan Kenneh replaces Victor Loturi.

  20. Substitution, Ross County. Simon Murray replaces Jordan White.

Player of the match

RandallConnor Randall

with an average of 8.29

Partick Thistle

  1. Squad number11Player nameLawless

  2. Squad number9Player nameGraham

  3. Squad number21Player nameFitzpatrick

  4. Squad number4Player nameHolt

  5. Squad number6Player nameTurner

  6. Squad number7Player nameTiffoney

  7. Squad number2Player nameMcMillan

  8. Squad number5Player nameBrownlie

  9. Squad number31Player nameMitchell

  10. Squad number22Player nameMuirhead

  11. Squad number23Player nameDocherty

  12. Squad number29Player nameMackenzie

  13. Squad number8Player nameBannigan

  14. Squad number19Player nameMullen

Ross County

  1. Squad number2Player nameRandall

  2. Squad number1Player nameLaidlaw

  3. Squad number26Player nameWhite

  4. Squad number30Player nameSmith

  5. Squad number10Player nameDhanda

  6. Squad number25Player nameSamuel

  7. Squad number7Player nameEdwards

  8. Squad number14Player nameLoturi

  9. Squad number5Player nameBaldwin

  10. Squad number16Player nameHarmon

  11. Squad number22Player nameTillson

  12. Squad number17Player nameMurray

  13. Squad number15Player nameWatson

  14. Squad number3Player namePurrington

  15. Squad number42Player nameKenneh

  16. Squad number4Player nameCancola

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