26 May 2023

Five-star Partick Thistle complete rout of Ayr to reach play-off final

26 May 2023

Partick Thistle continued their goalscoring spree to reach the cinch Premiership play-off final with a 5-0 win over 10-man Ayr at Somerset Park.

Scott Tiffoney hit a double and Jack McMillan, Steven Lawless and Kevin Holt were on target as the Jags secured an 8-0 aggregate victory.

Championship runners-up Ayr had top goalscorer Dipo Akinyemi sent off to cap a miserable play-off experience for the striker and the club.

Thistle will take on either Kilmarnock or Ross County in the two-legged final with the Staggies needing to win at Rugby Park on Sunday to avoid a difficult obstacle to retaining their top-flight status.

The Jags have scored 16 goals in four play-off wins and have only lost once in 17 games since Kris Doolan took charge.

Although a fourth-placed team in the Championship has never won the play-offs, Thistle now have an extra two days’ rest then their opponents before the first leg next Thursday after having a full week between both games against Ayr.

Ayr midfielder Reece McAlear had an early strike saved but the sting was taken out of the game in the seventh minute when McMillan netted his third goal of the play-off campaign.

The right-back provided the impetus to the move with a run into the box and his cross eventually fell for Aidan Fitzpatrick, whose shot was stopped by Ayr goalkeeper Charlie Albinson. McMillan was perfectly placed to nod the rebound over the line.

There were chances at either end in the following moments but Thistle looked the more dangerous side and the home side’s slim hopes disappeared in the 25th minute when Akinyemi was sent off.

The striker, who missed the first leg through illness, reacted angrily to being held by Aaron Muirhead and tried to push the defender away.

The man whose 24 goals earned him the PFA Scotland Championship player of the year award caught the defender in the face with his arm and Muirhead went down and received treatment.

Referee Colin Steven took a long time to deliver his punishment but Akinyemi was already walking towards the tunnel before the red card was shown.

Ayr manager Lee Bullen did not appear to be in agreement and pointed his finger at someone on the pitch.

His mood worsened two minutes later when Thistle doubled their lead on the counter-attack.

Fitzpatrick broke down the left, took his time and picked out Tiffoney at the far post to knock home. The former Ayr loan player celebrated by putting his finger to his mouth in front of the home support.

Albinson saved one on one from Brian Graham before Tiffoney added another goal in the 54th minute. A wonderful first-time pass from Steven Lawless sent McMillan down the right and his low cross was turned home from six yards.

Lawless netted in the 63rd minute with a reverse finish after Albinson had palmed away Kevin Holt’s cross.

Substitutes Anton Dowds, twice, and Danny Mullen missed good chances for the visitors before Holt headed home Kyle Turner’s 88th-minute corner.

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