Ladbrokes SPFL Play-offs: McGregor header leaves Hibernian in dreamland
Hibernian overcame a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Raith Rovers, with two early goals at Easter Road enough to set up a Ladbrokes Premiership play-off semi-final against Falkirk.
Elsewhere, Livingston and Stranraer cooked up another seven-goal thriller, while Barry Ferguson’s Clyde blasted their way into the League 1 play-off final. Here’s a round-up of what we’ve seen so far – and a taste of what to expect next.
Ladbrokes Premiership Play-off [Quarter Final]
Hibernian v Raith Rovers: 2-0 [Agg: 2-1]
Alan Stubbs’ Hibs raced out of the blocks at Easter Road on Saturday, scoring twice in the first 12 minutes to cancel out Rovers’ first-leg advantage, and then swing the tie in their own favour.
There was a touch of fortune about John McGinn’s deflected opener, but none about Darren McGregor’s perfectly-placed header from a Liam Henderson corner.
The hosts looked more likely to add to their lead, with Henderson and David Gray coming close, and Ray McKinnon’s Rovers – so impressive of late – produced few opportunities of note as the hosts cruised to victory.
Hibs host Falkirk tomorrow night, with the home side 7/10 for victory, while the the Bairns 10/3. However, the best bet could well be on honours even at 11/4, with Peter Houston’s charges having drawn all of their last five away games.
Ladbrokes Championship Play-offs [Semi-finals]
Livingston 4-3 Stranraer (AET) [Agg: 6-8]
There’s no debate over which two sides produced the most incredible double-header of this play-off round.
Livingston needed to turn around a 5-2 deficit before kick-off at the Tony Macaroni Arena and were looking good to do so, with the Lions 2-0 up at half-time.
Stranraer dented those hopes when Paul Cairney scored his first of the season for the Blues, but Livi struck in the 89th minute before Craig Halkett’s 94th-minute goal took the tie into extra-time. However, Falkirk loanee Liam Dick and Jamie Longworth netted for Stranraer in the extra period, to ensure they reached a final tie with Ayr United.
Ayr United v Peterhead: 2-1 [Agg: 6-2]
The Blue Toon had a mountain to climb following a 4-1 home thumping by Ayr, whose Robbie Crawford struck the final goal of the first leg.
And the 21-year-old youth product started where he left off in the second meeting, putting the Honest Men 1-0 up in the first half, to all but finish the tie.
Peterhead got level on the day via an own goal, before defender Nicky Devlin capped off Ayr’s route to the final with a well-taken goal from a corner, to set up a meeting with the Stranraer.
However, it’s the Blues who look good for victory against the Honest Men at Stair Park at 17/10, with the hosts having won the previous six games on their own patch. Ayr are 6/5 to get a precious away win, while the best value could be on these high-scoring sides producing 4+ goals at 29/20.
Ladbrokes League 1 Play-offs [Semi-finals]
Cowdenbeath v Queen’s Park: 1-0 [Agg: 1-2]
The Spiders resigned Cowden to a second successive relegation, with the Fife club unable to recover from a first-leg brace from Partick Thistle loanee Chris Duggan.
The prolific Greig Spence scored his 19th of the season for the Blue Brazil, but the goal counted for nothing, with the hosts wasting a string of great chances at Central Park.
Gus McPherson’s Queen’s side are now one step closer in their bid to return to the third-tier for the first time since 2009, but League 2’s tightest defence will need to be at their best to overcome Clyde.
Elgin City v Clyde: 0-2 [Agg: 1-5]
Barry Ferguson’s men headed north with the advantage after Mark McLaughlin’s crucial second-half strike secured a 3-1 margin in their favour after the first leg.
This was a tighter affair, but the visitors saw the job through with their ninth away triumph of the season, thanks to a goal from former Dumbarton man Jordan Kirkpatrick before Scott Linton put the icing on the cake with his 11th goal of this campaign in the 95th minute.
Clyde face Queen’s Park in the final, with the Bully Wee at home first. The Cumbernauld outfit are 21/20 to come out on top, with the Spiders 2/1, though the best bet could be a 1-1 draw at 6/1, with four of Queen’s last seven away games ending with that scoreline.
Ladbrokes League 2 Play-offs [Final]
Edinburgh City v East Stirlingshire: 1-1
Lowland League side Edinburgh City made the perfect start in their bid to be the first club promoted into the SPFL through the play-offs, when veteran Dougie Gair’s penalty put them 1-0 up early on against Shire.
However, the visitors levelled through pacy attacker Max Wright, and it finished 1-1 on the day. City may fancy their chances of a victory at Ochilview, though, with Shire having taken just one point from nine home games while the capital club have tasted six straight victories on the road.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.