Kris Doolan led Partick Thistle into the cinch Premiership play-off semi-finals one day after the death of his father as his team swept Queen’s Park aside at Ochilview.
The Thistle manager was in the dugout at Ochilview as his team won 4-0 to set up a semi-final against Ayr, the first leg of which will be at Firhill next Friday.
Goals from Brian Graham, Scott Tiffoney and Kevin Holt put the tie beyond doubt before half-time and the Jags soaked up some second-half pressure without any major scares before Danny Mullen sealed an 8-3 aggregate win.
Thistle announced on Thursday that Lawrence Doolan had died in the morning, and assistant manager Paul McDonald performed media duties after training. But the Firhill manager was back at work to continue his impressive start to management – he has now lost just once in 15 games.
Queen’s Park, whose Lesser Hampden home remains under redevelopment, only turned professional less than four years ago and a third consecutive promotion would have completed their ambitious plan to play in the top tier for the first time since 1958 well ahead of schedule.
But Scotland’s oldest football club led the Championship for much of 2023 and have paid the price for a late season collapse. They have won just once in nine matches and shipped 13 goals in a week in their three biggest games of the season, including last Friday’s title decider against Dundee.
Thistle fans gave their former centre-forward Doolan a special reception when the clock hit nine minutes and they were grateful for David Mitchell’s save and Darren Brownlie’s goalmouth clearance during the ovation after Connor Shields’ header had sent Jake Davidson clear.
The crowd included Neil Lennon, Duncan Ferguson, Ayr manager Lee Bullen plus Dundee United boss Jim Goodwin, whose team are battling to avoid the play-offs or worse.
Ferguson would have been proud of Graham’s 14th-minute finish as the experienced striker guided home a side-foot volley following Kyle Turner’s deep corner.
Aaron Healy hit a half-chance straight at Mitchell from 18 yards before Thistle doubled their lead with a well-worked goal in the 28th minute. Steven Lawless found Jack McMillan with a clever return pass and the right-back squared for Tiffoney to finish.
Holt bundled home the third in the 41st minute as he followed up on a parried header from Graham, who was soon denied a second goal by a point-blank save from Calum Ferrie.
Queen’s Park manager Owen Coyle made three half-time changes but needed Ferrie to make a one-on-one stop from Tiffoney early on.
Thistle frustrated their hosts and substitute Mullen nodded home in the 82nd minute after Ferrie had made an unorthodox stop with his foot from Cammy Smith’s deflected effort.