Rovers’ hopes for the remaining play-off place remained intact thanks to Matej Poplatnik’s tenth goal of the season as John McGlynn’s side saw off Partick Thistle at Firhill.
The Slovenian’s 89th minute effort was all that separated the sides but that was also thanks to Kyle Benedictus’ last ditch attempt to keep out Brian Graham in order to close the gap between the two sides to only three points with two games to play.
Rovers started brightly and Sam Stanton’s Long ball over the top saw Poplatnik do well to flick the ball on down the left for Williamson to run at Akinola and shoot towards the bottom left hand corner, which had Sneddon scrambling, but it could only ripple the side netting despite some Rovers fans believing he’d found the back of the net.
Thistle thought they’d broken the deadlock themselves with ten minutes on the clock. A good move down the right hand side saw McKenna play in Jakubiak who lifted the ball into the penalty box, which fell kindly for Ross Docherty to run onto and attempt a first time effort but his cute shot drifted agonisingly wide of Jamie MacDonald’s net.
Rovers could’ve got themselves in front midway through the first half as they got into their groove with relative ease. A short corner routine saw Ross come out with the ball from the left hand side, seeing his poor cross kept alive by McKay with a neat scorpion flick to get the ball back for his side, putting it back into the mixer on the edge of the box for Williamson to bring down and see his half volley fly just over the wrong side of the bar.
Jamie MacDonald was in inspired form as he looked to keep his clean sheet intact as he prevented Thistle from opening the scoring shortly before the break. Jakubiak did well to get past Musonda on the left, taking the ball across the face of his marker and down the outside as he then looked to lift the ball into the area, which Brian Graham rose highest for, beating McKay in the air for, but his downward header was parried away by the Rovers No.1 who got down well to prevent the ball nestling in the bottom right corner.
Jamie Sneddon did well to match the feats of his Rovers counterpart by brilliantly palming a stunning Reghan Tumilty strike over the bar shortly after the interval. Some good play from Ross Matthews and then Aidan Connolly saw Rovers break up the park and quickly shift the ball from left to right as Tumilty was able to step onto the ball around 35-yards out, he then drove forward ten yards and unleashed a thunderbolt from the right-hand side, with the swerve on the ball almost fooling the Thistle stopper but he did enough to recover and palm the ball over the bar.
Rovers continued to grow into the second half and become the driving force of proceedings. With much of the play surrounding Thistle’s penalty area Sam Stanton picked the ball up on the edge of the box, after some good work from Tumilty saw him cut inside Hendrie and lay the ball off to the midfielder, who stepped into the box and tried his luck from 17-yards with an effort across goal, which flew through a sea of legs and nicked off the foot of Zanatta but Sneddon did well to get a hand on it and hold onto the shot with 20-mins to play.
Despite a fairly evenly contested tie looking as if it would play out for a draw, Matej Poplatnik would continue to write his name into Rovers folklore with yet another vital goal as he looked to claim all three points for his side after Kyle Benedictus put his body on the line to keep things level moments earlier.
Some good play on the right hand side saw Frankie Musonda keep the ball in play, as well as rolling the ball along the line for Dario Zanatta who skipped past his man to roll the ball into the feet of Matej Poplatnik on the edge of the penalty box, who held the ball up and allowed Aidan Connolly to drop around him in support, picking the ball up and playing it round Lewis Mayo into the left hand side of the box, fashioning an opening to try and get a shot away, instead, he squared the ball along the face of the six yard box for Poplatnik to stretch a leg out to fire the ball beyond Sneddon into the top left corner and make sure that Rovers play-off hopes remained for another day.
Sneddon, Holt, Mayo, Tiffoney, Bannigan, Graham, Jakubiak, McKenna, Akinola, Docherty, Hendrie. Subs: Firth, Turner, Smith, Bell, Murray, Crawford, Alegria, Stanway, McAllister.
MacDonald, Tumilty, Musonda, Benedictus, Connolly, Matthews, McKay, Stanton, Williamson, Ross, Poplatnik. Subs: Thomson, Zanatta, Spencer, Varian, Arnott, Young.
© Eddie Doig 2022
John McGlynn spoke to RaithTV after the win against Partick Thistle FC:
David McKay spoke to RaithTV after the win against Partick Thistle FC:
Rovers travel back to Glasgow for what could be the final time this season as they prepare to face off against Play-Off Rivals, Partick Thistle tomorrow.
John McGlynn’s side head to Firhill looking for their second win of the campaign over Ian McCall’s side and will hope to be able to see from one side of the pitch to the other when they arrive in Maryhill this weekend after the fog descended on the last encounter between the two.
Rovers go into the game looking for their first league victory in over a month as they look to keep their slim Play-Off chances alive and they know that by taking three points off of their Firhill counterparts, they can force the play to go right down to the wire.
Rovers will feel hard done by after last time out against Morton, having had the better of the chances, but ultimately not the deciding touch in the 1-0 defeat to Dougie Imrie’s side.
Robbie Muirhead’s solitary second half strike was all that separated the side’s in that one.
Thistle on the other hand are looking to turn a corner after recording their first win in five games last time out as Scott Tiffoney’s strike was all that separated his side and Wullie Gibson’s Queen of the South.
Ian McCall’s side hold onto the last Play-Off spot and will be doing all that they can to keep a six point gap between the two sides.
Rovers haven’t had much luck in the fixture in recent times, having only won once at Firhill in their last five visits.
Partick Wins: 5 Raith Rovers Wins: 6 Draws: 7
Raith Rovers: L-L-W-D-L-W
Partick : W-D-L-L-L
Raith Rovers: Dario Zanatta 9, Aidan Connolly 7, Matej Poplatnik 8
Thistle: Brian Graham 13, Ross Docherty 5, Scott Tiffoney 5
Referee: David Munro