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Ross County 2-2 Partick Thistle (4-3 pen)

County celebrate Steven Craig's winning penalty
Craig (on ground) scored the winning penalty against Thistle in Dingwall

By Clive Lindsay

Steven Craig blasted home in a penalty shoot-out as Ross County twice came from behind to beat Partick Thistle and reach the ALBA Challenge Cup final.

William Kinniburgh headed the Glasgow team into an eighth-minute lead from close range at Victoria Park.

Scott Morrison powered in a 22-yard equaliser for the Dingwall outfit seven minutes after the break.

Close-range finishes from Paddy Boyle and Andrew Barrowman sent the tie into extra time and then penalties.

Spot kicks were saved from Thistle's Ian Flannigan, County's Martin Scott and then Boyle before Craig secured a place in the final against Queen of the South.

Thistle had gone into the game with a psychological edge having lifted themselves off the bottom of Division One with last weekend's 2-0 win on the same ground.

Craig had returned for County, who were looking to end a run of three games without a win, for the first time since August to bolster a front line missing Barrowman, who was only fit enough for the bench.

Paddy Boyle celebrates in Dingwall
Boyle scored against County for the second weekend running

David Rowson and Simon Donnelly failed late fitness tests for Thistle, but it was the visitors who still started the brighter side in the Dingwall sunshine without the experienced midfield pair.

The Glasgow side had already threatened before taking an early lead, with goalkeeper Michael McGovern blocking at the near post from Kris Doolan after the forward wriggled free to the edge of the six-yard box.

However, from the corner, Doolan's powerful header from 10 yards was clawed off the line by McGovern and Kinniburgh's diving header slotted the ball inside the front post.

County were being restricted to long-range efforts but had claims for a penalty rejected when Scott Boyd went down while looking to connect with a curling free-kick.

However, Derek Adams' side equalised in the 52nd minute after Jackie McNamara conceded a free-kick with a rash challenge 22 yards from goal.

Michael Gardyne rolled the ball to the side and Morrison fired it powerfully into the roof of the net despite a despairing touch off goalkeeper Bryn Halliwell's fingertips.

County came close to increasing their lead seconds later when a Morrison drive deflected into the path of Craig and desperate blocks from Halliwell prevented the striker and then Boyd from scoring from close range.

Thistle were back in front after 63 minutes when McGovern could only parry a deflected John Robertson drive and Boyle, who scored at Victoria Park last Saturday, fired the rebound home from eight yards.

County were unable to make much headway until a Morrison cross was spilled by Halliwell two minutes from time, Boyd forced the ball into the six-yard box and Barrowman provided the finish.

Barrowman and Thistle's Buchanan both missed chances before the match went into extra-time and McGovern denied the latter as the additional time drew to a close.


Ross County assistant manager Craig Brewster:
"It is always difficult one when it goes to penalties.

"But, all credit to the boys for twice fighting back from a goal down and Michael McGovern made two great saves for us."

Partick Thistle defender Alan Archibald:
"We should have won it before it went into extra time.

"It's hard when you lose a goal from a mistake so late on, but hopefully we can take our good form into the league."


Ross County: McGovern, Miller, Boyd, McCormack, Morrison, Brittain, Vigurs (Lawson 73), Scott, Wood (Barrowman 83), Craig, Gardyne.
Subs Not Used: Malin, Kettlewell, Flynn.

Booked: Brittain.

Goals: Morrison 54, Barrowman 88.

Partick: Halliwell, Paton, Boyle, McNamara, Archibald, Kinniburgh (Bryan Hodge 97), Robertson, Flannigan, Cairney, Doolan (Buchanan 62), Grehan (Erskine 81).
Subs Not Used: Hinchcliffe, Balatoni.

Booked: McNamara, Archibald, Buchanan, Erskine.

Goals: Kinniburgh 8, Boyle 64.

Att: 1,307

Ref: S Conroy



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see also
Peterhead 1-2 Queen of the South
09 Oct 10 |  Scottish Cups


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