Raith draw at Brechin, Airdrie beat Alloa, draws in League One play-offs

Declan McManus scores
Declan McManus brought Raith Rovers level against Brechin City

Declan McManus scored a free-kick as Raith Rovers fought back to claim a 1-1 draw at Brechin in the first leg of the Championship play-off semi-finals.

Elsewhere, Airdrieonians took a 1-0 lead over Alloa Athletic at the Excelsior Stadium.

Both matches in the League One play-off semi-finals ended in draws. Annan and Forfar are tied at 2-2, while Montrose and Peterhead drew 1-1.

All four second legs will take place on Saturday.

Peterhead and Montrose players
The first leg ended all square between Peterhead and Montrose

And the Championship and League One play-off finals will be played over 17 and 20 May.

At Glebe Park, hosts Brechin took the lead through Ross Caldwell's first-half penalty, which was awarded after Jean-Yves M'Voto had fouled Andy Jackson.

M'Voto and Rudi Skacel both netted with headers in the opening 45 minutes but neither counted with M'Voto being penalised for his challenge on goalkeeper Graeme Smith and Skacel ruled offside.

But Raith's equaliser did arrive 20 minutes from the end. Midfielder Ross Matthews was fouled 25 yards out and McManus stepped up to find the corner of the net brilliantly.

The visitors had a couple of decent chances to go in front, with Kyle Benedictus's half-volley bringing a good save out of Smith towards the end.

The eventual winner will take on Airdrie or Alloa for a place in next season's Championship.

Andy Ryan headed home Ryan Conroy's cross to give the Diamonds a slender advantage to take into the weekend's return leg in Clackmannanshire.

The deficit could have been harder for the Wasps to overcome had their goalkeeper Neil Parry not blocked Adam Brown's effort.

At Links Park, Peterhead took an early lead against hosts Montrose when Ryan Strachan fired a 35-yard shot into the top corner.

But the visitors' advantage did not last long, Liam Callaghan setting up Chris Templeman to slot home.

Gary Fraser threatened to put Montrose ahead in the tie but there would be no further goals in the first leg.

Michael Travis scores
Michael Travis was one of Forfar's scorers

The evening's highest scoring encounter was at Galabank.

Annan raced into a two-goal lead with the experienced Peter Weatherson heading home Aidan Smith's cross and Smith then scoring a rebound after his penalty had been saved by Grant Adam, the goalkeeper having fouled the 19-year-old.

However, Forfar scored twice in the final 10 minutes to level the tie. Michael Travis nodded home then Martyn Fotheringham equalised by firing home a free-kick.

Reaction from Glebe Park

For John Hughes' Raith Rovers, the play-offs are about trying to avoid relegation after finishing second bottom of the Championship.

And he told BBC Scotland: "We started very slow and with a bit of apprehension on a tricky surface. There wasn't much football played - not one for the purists, that's for sure.

"Their goalkeeper had two or three great saves, we should have scored a header at the back post. It's half-time and still all to play for.

"All credit to Brechin who gave as good as they got.

"McManus hit that sort of knuckle ball and we were absolutely delighted to see it hit the back of the net.

"If we play like we did in the second half tonight with a bit more quality added to it, we'll be good enough to win this tie."

And Brechin boss Darren Dods said: "We knew it was going to be hard with us having a few injuries and Raith being full-time, but we wanted to keep ourselves in the tie and I thought the effort and work-rate was excellent.

Brechin celebrate
Caldwell (second from right) scored Brechin's opener

"Andy Jackson battled away hard and it was a great first touch he took in the box to draw the foul and Ross Caldwell slotted it away well.

"Ally Love was out injured tonight with his ankle strapped up but another 48 hours and he'll be close to starting at the weekend.

"If we can hit them on the break on Saturday and give it one final push, we'll see where it takes us."

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