Preview

After the drama of the Viaplay Cup group stages, the Championship kicks off this weekend, as Raith Rovers travel to Firhill, to face off against a Partick Thistle side, who somehow missed out on promotion to the Premiership at the death last season.

Leading 3-0 on aggregate with less than 20 minutes remaining of the promotion playoff final versus Ross County, Thistle had been by far the best side over the two legs, but they contrived to concede three times in the final 19 minutes, before eventually losing out on penalties to ensure The Staggies stayed up.

That late drama led to something of an overhaul of the playing squad over the summer, and while a number of key players from last season's oh-so-close campaign have moved on, Kris Doolan's squad still looks like it has enough talent within it, to make a decent fist of the season coming.

Like Rovers, they made it out of their group in the League Cup by fine margins.

A penalty win over Peterhead after a 1-1 draw was followed up by an excellent victory at Tannadice against Dundee United, however, defeat to Falkirk on penalties meant they needed a win over Spartans in the final match, which they duly did thanks to a late Brian Graham penalty in the 88th minute of a 2-1 win.

Rovers had mixed fortunes against the Maryhill side last season, taking four points from six at Stark's Park, but losing both fixtures at Firhill.

Their last win at the venue was in the final weeks of the 2021/22 season, when an injury time winner from Matej Poplatnik saw Rovers take all three points in a 1-0 win.

Rovers just about hold the upper hand in the most recent meetings between the sides though, with four wins and three defeats from the last 10 meetings.

Saturday's match referee will be Calum Scott.

Head-to-Head Record

Partick Thistle Wins: 70

Raith Rovers Wins: 51

Draws: 39

Reports

A game of two halves – clichéd but true!

They say Firhill for thrills and, although it’s now called ‘The Wyre Stadium at Firhill’, it didn’t disappoint. Old football adages and clichés such as ‘it was a game of two halves’ and ‘defences not on top’ couldn’t have been more apt for this league season opener.

With both teams having progressed from the group stages of the League Cup and, in fact, both drawing away ties in the capital, this one was poised nicely.

Rovers came out of the traps quickly and Euan Murray should have put Rovers ahead on his return to the starting line up within three minutes; however, he blazed over from 8 yards after a Dylan Easton cutback.

Partick quickly rubbed salt into that wound: Brian Graham headed back across goal and Jack McMillan found himself unmarked to head in off the underside of the bar. Partick 1-0 Rovers.

The game continued to flow from end-to-end with both teams passing up guilt-edged chances. Jack Hamilton saw his left-footed finish go just the wrong side of the post and then a nice move from Lewis Vaughan and Callum Smith found Hamilton at the back post but his right-footed volley went over the bar.

Partick continued to make chances too and Kerr McInroy should have given the hosts a two nil lead but, as he slid in, his effort went just wide of Kevin Dabrowski’s post.

Rovers, though, received a sucker punch just on half-time. A quick free kick found Aidan Fitzpatrick unmarked at the back post and he managed to steer it home to give The Jags a 2-0 lead. Partick 2-0 Rovers.

Half-time: Partick Thistle 2-0 Raith Rovers

 

Rovers, probably undeservedly 2-0 down at the break – in a game which could easily have been 3-3 – set to the task of breaking down the Thistle resistance. Smith was first to threaten, timing his volley perfectly but unlucky to see his effort rebound back off the crossbar.

The hosts also threatened from time-to-time but Dabrowski made some reasonably comfortable saves in the away goal.

As the game looked to be drifting towards a home win, Rovers’ manager Ian Murray rolled the dice by introducing Ethan Ross and Kieran Mitchell, to give the tiring team a little extra energy – and it paid off!

Ross started attacking makeshift fullback Ola Williams and the Partick man struggled to cope with Ross’ pace and trickery. Some neat play on the left found Dylan Easton and after setting himself nicely saw his deflected shot fly past David Mitchell in the home goal. 2-1 and it was game on with seven minutes to play. Partick 2-1 Rovers.

Buoyed by the goal, both the Rovers team and the 431 strong travelling support started to believe the comeback was possible – and they were proved right....

Again, some clever play and persistence from Ross down the left made space on the byline and his cutback was perfectly placed for fellow sub Kieran Mitchell to steer home with his left foot. A great moment to score his first competitive goal in Rovers’ colours and the last-minute icing on the cake for what was a very entertaining opening fixture. Partick 2-2 Rovers.

Both teams had half chances in injury time but the game finished 2-2 (mirroring the final day result at Stark’s Park from last season) proving there’s not much between the teams, and all to play for this season.

Full-time: Partick Thistle 2-2 Raith Rovers

Crowd: 3,468

By David Proudfoot

Photos

 

Highlights

Interviews

Ian Murray spoke to RaithTV after today's 2-2 draw:

 

Goalscorer Kieran Mitchell spoke to RaithTV after today's 2-2 draw: