THE only people more uncomfortable watching Partick Thistle’s demolition of Ayr United than the home fans – many of whom were streaming for the exits 25 minutes in – may have been Malky Mackay and Derek McInnes.

One of those managers will now come up against Kris Doolan’s rampant side in the Premiership play-off final after a 5-0 win on the night at Somerset Park, as goals from red-hot right-back Jack McMillan, a Scott Tiffoney double, Steven Lawless and Kevin Holt at the death gave the Jags an emphatic 8-0 aggregate triumph.

Granted, they were helped by the daft dismissal of Ayr striker Dipo Akinyemi, whose inclusion in the line-up after illness briefly gave the Ayr faithful renewed hope that they could overturn the daunting deficit from last week’s first leg at Firhill.

As it transpired though, the big striker did that most unadvisable thing for a footballer in Scotland to do; he gave referee Colin Steven a decision to make. Akinyemi tangled with Aaron Muirhead, and seemed to throw an arm in the Thistle defender’s face as the pair’s limbs became untwined.

Judging by the reaction of Ayr manager Lee Bullen, he may have felt the red card punishment was debatable, but in truth it was inevitable, and was duly produced by the official.

By that time, Thistle were already ahead, as their free-flowing attacking football down the wings proved too much for the home defence to live with. Ok, the finish from McMillan may not have been the prettiest, and neither might he now as the ball cannoned off his face at high speed and into the net, but the build-up was incisive and impressive.

Ross Docherty drove forward and released Stevie Lawless down the right, and his cross was just a little high for the arriving Tiffoney, who nodded into the air at the back post. Big Brian Graham was there to keep it alive, with the ball falling for Aidan Fitzpatrick to drill towards goal.

There was McMillan in the centre of the six yarder to somehow divert the ball home via his schnoz for his third goal in four games. When you’re hot, you’re hot.

Immediately after Akinyemi’s moment of madness, Thistle smelled blood, and stormed forward to double their lead and kill the tie all ends up. Again, Fitzpatrick claimed the assist, as his low cross from the left picked out Tiffoney timing his run perfectly to tap home.

After the break, the only issue to resolve was how many more goals Thistle could be exercised to add to their tally in the goal in front of their rambunctious travelling support. They added a third when McMillan turned provider down the right, squaring for Tiffoney to get his second from close range.

Doolan then had the luxury of withdrawing two of his big hitters in Tiffoney and Graham with the first leg of the final next Thursday in mind. The job was more than done, but Lawless showed trademark guile and composure to add a fourth in any case, taking a cross from Kevin Holt on his chest and sidestepping a challenge in the area before coolly slotting home low into the corner.

The Thistle throngs got to celebrate one more time as Kyle Turner's corner was nodded home by Holt, but they put just as much gusto into wildly acclaiming their players and Doolan at the end.

This is a man who has cemented his legendary status as a Thistle player long ago, and is well on his way to doing the same as their manager. The way he has led the club through these play-off fixtures, particularly following the personal tragedy of the death of his father, is hugely commendable. He now has a play-off final to look forward to in what will be just his 18th match as a boss, and he has only suffered one defeat so far.

His rampant team have now hit 16 goals in four games. They have kept three clean sheets in the process. The momentum is with them, and then some.

County and Killie now face off in a final day showdown to see who it is who will finish second bottom of the table and be forced to negotiate a two-legged final against a team absolutely brimming with verve and confidence. Qualities that neither Premiership outfit currently possess, or have done for long and weary.

Whichever team it is who ultimately ends up next in Thistle’s crosshairs, and County look the likeliest, they won’t fancy it.