Partick Thistle 1 Stranraer 2: Roberts puts sting in Thistle's challenge

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The Independent Football

Never mind the quality, feel the relief. Two years ago, Firhill was being graced by such notable talents as Henrik Larsson and Ronald de Boer, but yesterday its patrons were happy to acclaim as barren an encounter as you are ever likely to see until a late infusion of goals. The fact that Partick Thistle were taking a step towards repairing the damage of two successive demotions kept their fans happy.

The 3-1 win obtained at Stranraer last Wednesday in the first leg was crucial in ensuring Glasgow's other club progress into the final of the Scottish League's promotion-relegation play-offs, where they will face Peterhead in another two-leg affair. A place in the First Division awaits the winner.

Stranraer's campaign in the depths of that division had no doubt prepared them for their fate of relegation, but for Partick, this result will make up for failing even to trouble the automatic Second Division promotion spot, which went to the Scottish Cup finalists Gretna.

Stranraer had the better of a turgid first half in which Michael Moore squandered the best chance when, with just Kenny Arthur to beat, he allowed the goalkeeper to save. The home supporters had to wait until a young man named Adam Strachan produced some moments of skill that would have delighted his famous namesake at Celtic.

Yet Thistle could not summon up a goal. Billy Gibson missed two chances and Mark Roberts saw his shot pushed on to the bar before the hosts were given a scare when Leigh Hinds and Ian Ross combined for the latter to reduce the aggregate score 11 minutes from time after Arthur's poor parry.

Roberts, though, equalised in the 87th minute, steering in an angled shot, and Thistle required that precious goal because Stranraer scored again in stoppage time when David Hamilton conjured up a sublime overhead kick from Lee Sharp's corner to ensure a fraught finale.

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