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Scottish Premiership Playoffs | Final | 1st Leg
May 23, 2024 at 8pm UK
Stark's Park

Raith Rovers
1 - 2
Ross County

Stanton (83')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Dhanda (53' pen.), Baldwin (72')
Leak (22')

Preview: Raith Rovers vs. Ross County - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Raith Rovers vs. Ross County - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Scottish Premiership Playoffs clash between Raith Rovers and Ross County, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Looking to secure a return to the Scottish Premiership for the first time in 27 years, Raith Rovers will welcome Ross County to Stark's Park for the first leg of their playoff final.

Rovers have a shot of reaching the top table of Scottish football after defeating Partick Thistle over two legs, whilst the Staggies will strive to preserve their place in the Premiership via the playoffs for a second season running.

Match preview

Possessing a 2-1 lead from the first leg, Raith Rovers were forced to a penalty shootout against Partick Thistle in their Premiership playoff semi-final on Friday, when the visitors secured a 2-1 victory on the night courtesy of a brilliant brace from Blair Alston.

After midfield maestro Scott Brown missed the opening kick from 12 yards for the hosts, it appeared as if the Rovers would be remaining as a Championship club next season, but some goalkeeping heroics from Maciej Dabrowski allowed his side passage into the playoff finals.

It is hard to argue against Ian Murray's side being deserving recipients of a two-legged chance to reach the Premiership for the first time this century, with Raith comfortably finishing second in the Championship regular term, 14 points ahead of Partick Thistle in third.

Having struggled with injury issues throughout this career, the 2023-24 season has been a pleasure for Rovers striker Lewis Vaughan, who has netted 15 league goals in 34 appearances this term, with the 28-year-old potentially 180 minutes away from being a Premiership marksman.

For back-to-back campaigns, Ross County will look to use the post-season playoffs to secure their Premiership status after the final day of the regular season did not go to plan, with the Staggies only managing a 2-2 with already-safe Aberdeen at Dingwall.

Simon Murray and former Swansea City youngster Yan Dhanda struck either side of the half-time whistle for County, but goals from Ester Solker and Angus MacDonald for the Dons forced a share of the spoils.

With relegation rivals St Johnstone winning at Motherwell on the final day, the Stones leapfrogged Ross County into the safety of 10th at the final moment, condemning Don Cowie's side to a two-legged affair with Raith this week.

Staggies goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw has insisted that his side cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves heading into two crucial matches, with the shot-stopper hoping to build on last season's successful fight against relegation as a source of confidence this time around.

Ross County faced off versus Partick Thistle this time last year, and after falling to defeat during the first leg away from home, the Highlanders won 3-1 at Dingwall in the second leg to remain in the Premiership.

Raith Rovers Scottish Premiership Playoffs form:

Raith Rovers form (all competitions):

Ross County form (all competitions):

Team News

After being forced off during the first leg versus Partick due to a hamstring strain, Raith's Keith Watson did not appear in the second match and could also miss Thursday's clash.

Apart from that, Rovers have no fresh injury concerns, meaning that the likes of Ross Matthews and Liam Dick are start to start once again for the hosts.

Ross County remain without the services of Max Sheaf, who is out for the remainder of the campaign because of a muscle injury sustained in April.

Scott Allardice has not featured late December due to a knee issue, with the 26-year-old set to sit out of his side's crucial matches over the next week.

Raith Rovers possible starting lineup:
Dabrowski; Matthews, Corr, Murray, Dick; Brown, Byrne, Connolly, Stanton, Turner; Vaughan

Ross County possible starting lineup:
Laidlaw; Nightingale, Baldwin, Leak; Brown, Randall, King, Harmon, Dhanda; Murray, White

We say: Raith Rovers 1-1 Ross County

With home advantage during the first leg, Raith will be desperate to take the lead in the tie ahead of a second-leg jaunt to the Highlands at Sunday lunchtime.

Ross County have sleepwalked into this position, and supporters will be in for a rude awakening if they think the Staggies will breeze past their second-tier opponents on Thursday night.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Premier League Table
1Dundee UnitedDundee Utd36229573235075
2Raith Rovers36209758421669
3Partick ThistlePartick36141396354955
5Greenock MortonMorton36129154346-345
6Dunfermline AthleticDunfermline361112134348-545
7Ayr UnitedAyr36128165361-844
8Queen's ParkQueen's Park361110155056-643
9Inverness Caledonian ThistleInverness361012144140142
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