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Raith Rovers beat Dunfermline to take step towards Premiership

Rovers now face Dundee in the play-off semi-final.

Raith Rovers beat Dunfermline to take step towards Premiership SNS Group

Raith Rovers are a step closer to the Premiership after dumping Fife rivals Dunfermline out of the play-offs.

Stevie Crawford’s Pars wasted a string of chances across both legs and they were made to pay as Lewis Vaughan and Gozie Ugwu sealed a 2-0 win in the Stark’s Park return.

John McGlynn’s men now face a two-game semi-final shoot-out with Dundee next week – with the winner going on to play the side finishing second-bottom of the top division.

But the Kirkcaldy faithful will hope this is the start of a journey that will take them back to the top flight for the first time since 1997.

Vaughan’s opener was a moment of sweet relief for a player who has suffered three cruciate ligament ruptures by the age of 23.

But the agony of the Dunfermline players was evident at full-time as they were consigned to another year in the Championship.

They had bossed Tuesday’s goalless opening clash but found Rovers keeper Jamie MacDonald impossible to beat at East End Park – and the 35-year-old was just as heroic for his side as the second leg got underway.

He looked a little shaky early on and needed two goes at gathering Mark O’Hara’s long-range effort before almost being caught out by the swerve on Dom Thomas’ vicious 30-yard free-kick.

But there was no denying the quality of his stop on 29 minutes. Pars striker Craig Wighton dropped a shoulder before driving past the flat-footed Kyle Benedictus but his attempt to clip it over MacDonald was thwarted when the veteran stopper threw out an instinctive arm to rescue his team.

Benedictus got his footing all wrong again as he slashed at Kevin O’Hara’s cross, with the ball just skimming over the Raith crossbar.

Dunfermline keeper Owain Fon Williams was finally called into action nine minutes before the break, pushing away Kieran MacDonald’s drive after he robbed the ball off Aaron Comrie, but the Welshman was beaten 19 minutes into the second half.

With Rovers far busier on the attack after the break, left-back MacDonald was able to burst forward and swing in a dangerous cross. Pars could only clear to Reghan Tumilty, whose strike took a nick off Ewan Henderson on its way through to Fon Williams.

He did well to react to the deflection but when he parried straight at Vaughan, there was nothing he could do as the Raith ace chipped the ball over him before ramming into the unguarded net.

Dunfermline sent the cavalry forward in a bid to grab a lifeline but their hopes were blown away in the final minute when Ugwu raced onto Brad Spencer’s long punt before blasting home the second.