John McGlynn has hailed Lewis Vaughan for overcoming three serious knee injuries to fire Raith Rovers another step closer to the Premiership.
The Stark’s Park playmaker struck the opener as Rovers won 2-0 in the second leg of their play-off quarter-final win over Fife rivals Dunfermline.
Gozie Ugwu added a late second as McGlynn’s side set up a two-game semi-final shootout with Dundee this week – with the winner going on to face the Premiership’s second-bottom side for the right to play top-flight football next season.
Vaughan’s goal was a moment of sweet relief for a player who was forced to fight to save his career following three cruciate ligament injuries by the age of 23.
Since battling back to fitness, Vaughan has proved to be a derby specialist, with three of his four goals this season coming against the Pars.
He also scored a Scottish Cup hat-trick against Rovers’ Kingdom foes back in January 2019 – just a week before he was ruled out for eight months with the second of his devastating injury blows.
Raith boss McGlynn said: “I’m delighted for Lewis. He revels in these kinds of situations.
“He’s been here a long time and has been over the course during that period.
“He’s taken some doings along the way given Pars have had their successful times too. No doubt you remember these when you’re playing and you want to reverse that.
“Lewis seems to keep digging up and producing goals in derby games, which I’m delighted about.
“Given the lay-offs he’s had over the last three years with the injuries and the operations, I couldn’t be any happier for any individual more than I am for Lewis Vaughan.
“Obviously it’s extra special for us to get this win in a Fife derby. The fans would still probably be in here half an hour after the game had they been allowed in, singing and dancing and everything else that they’d do after a derby victory in the play-offs.
“But this means they can go to their work on Monday, have a bit of banter with their Pars mates.”
Dunfermline are now facing another year in the Championship. It is a bitter blow for boss Stevie Crawford but he has vowed to bounce back next term.
“My remit when I came into this job is to work with players and giving them opportunities and build up that backbone of experience,” he said.
“There are only a handful here who had experienced play-offs – but I’m not using that as an excuse
“It makes me hungry and standing here talking to you on the back of a defeat is sore but I want to make sure I progress and get better and I can expect that from the boys.
“But I don’t want my disappointment to take away from what could be an exciting year for us next season.”