Match ends, Raith Rovers 1, Queen of the South 3.
Raith Rovers 1-3 Queen of the South: Dumfries side take control after first leg
Queen of the South left Kirkcaldy in total command of their Championship Play-off final after a comfortable, first-leg win over Raith Rovers.
The hosts started brightly, but Lyndon Dykes opened the scoring with a fine finish with the outside of his foot.
Strike partner Stephen Dobbie set up Connor Murray to double the lead.
A Darren Brownlie header went in off Rovers' Euan Murray, but David McKay's thundering late reply gives Raith hope for Saturday's second leg in Dumfries.
But the side who finished second bottom of the Championship will be strong favourites to continue their six-year stay in the second tier after their first win in six visits to Stark's Park since October 2014.
- Dobbie honoured to break record
- Gullan is Rovers' semi-final hero
- Record-breaker Dobbie turns round tie
It also ended Rovers' five-game unbeaten run - and their own run of five consecutive away defeats.
Allan Johnston, in his third game in charge since the sacking of Gary Naysmith, had the luxury of taking off veteran Dobbie, who was the hat-trick hero as Queens overturned a 2-1 semi-final first leg deficit against Montrose despite a hamstring injury, long before the final whistle.
Rovers, who finished third in League One before beating Forfar Athletic in their semi-final, had their chances before Queens stamped their authority on the game.
Top scorer Kevin Nesbit curled a drive wide soon after Dykes' opening goal and Michael Doyle had to slide across the six-yard box to deflect clear Jamie Gullan's shot after Alan Martin made a mess of a throw out.
The goalkeeper made amends by deflecting wide a low Callum Crane shot, but Queens could have also added to their tally,
Rovers goalkeeper Dean Lyness' legs came to the rescue when a Scott Mercer shot took a deflection, while Ross Matthews chested a Brownlie header off the line.
Dykes should have done better than fire low against the face of a post ahead of intense Rovers pressure before and after McKay's reply.
Despite the defender's late strike, John McGlynn's Fifers were left with an uphill struggle if they are to avoid a third year in League One.
Champions League shows anything can happen - reaction
Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn: "I honestly don't think it's a 3-1. At half-time, it could have been 2-2 as we've had two great chances.
"I think they were clinical in the chances they got for their first two goals and it was a soft third goal for us to lose. It is going to make a bit of difference in the tie.
"When we got the goal back, you could see Queens were under pressure, so if we can get the first goal down there, we will see what difference that would make to them.
"If you look at Champions League games recently, it is a great example for teams like us and shows that anything is possible."
Queen of the South manager Allan Johnston: "Obviously I'm happy that we're winning - we could have maybe killed them off with a couple of chances in the second half when we were right through.
"Raith getting the late goal leaves it an open tie at the weekend. They are a good team with good players and I'm sure they'll go for it on Saturday and hopefully will leave big spaces for our attacking players as well.
"You can see the quality we've got going forward. It was good to get Stephen Dobbie off as he's such a big player for us and hopefully he'll be ready for Saturday."
- 4DavidsonBooked at 41mins
- 6BenedictusBooked at 34mins
- 5MurrayBooked at 74mins
- 16FlanaganSubstituted forMcGuffieat 82'minutes
- 14WedderburnSubstituted forBarjonasat 70'minutes
- 3CraneBooked at 84mins
- 30GullanSubstituted forDugganat 82'minutes
Queen of Sth
- 10ToddSubstituted forStirlingat 82'minutes
- 25DykesSubstituted forMcGrathat 85'minutes
- 11DobbieSubstituted forAirdat 73'minutes
- David Munro
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Raith Rovers 1, Queen of the South 3.
Attempt missed. Kyle Benedictus (Raith Rovers) header from a difficult angle on the left is close, but misses to the left following a set piece situation.
Chris Duggan (Raith Rovers) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Andy Stirling (Queen of the South).
Attempt missed. Euan Murray (Raith Rovers) header from the centre of the box misses to the right.
Kevin Nisbet (Raith Rovers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Scott Mercer (Queen of the South).
Attempt saved. Kevin Nisbet (Raith Rovers) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Goal! Raith Rovers 1, Queen of the South 3. David McKay (Raith Rovers) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.
Substitution, Queen of the South. Ian McGrath replaces Lyndon Dykes.
Callum Crane (Raith Rovers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Callum Crane (Raith Rovers).
Andy Stirling (Queen of the South) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Raith Rovers. Conceded by Michael Doyle.
Attempt saved. Lyndon Dykes (Queen of the South) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Substitution, Raith Rovers. Craig McGuffie replaces Nathan Flanagan.
Substitution, Raith Rovers. Chris Duggan replaces James Gullan.
Substitution, Queen of the South. Andy Stirling replaces Josh Todd.
Attempt saved. Lyndon Dykes (Queen of the South) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Own Goal by Euan Murray, Raith Rovers. Raith Rovers 0, Queen of the South 3.
Euan Murray (Raith Rovers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Fraser Aird (Queen of the South) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Euan Murray (Raith Rovers).
Substitution, Queen of the South. Fraser Aird replaces Stephen Dobbie.
Attempt missed. Darren Brownlie (Queen of the South) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high following a corner.
Corner, Queen of the South. Conceded by Iain Davidson.
Corner, Queen of the South. Conceded by Callum Crane.
Corner, Queen of the South. Conceded by Euan Murray.
Substitution, Raith Rovers. Jamie Barjonas replaces Nathaniel Wedderburn.
Foul by Darren Brownlie (Queen of the South).
James Gullan (Raith Rovers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Raith Rovers. Conceded by Jordan Marshall.
Foul by Lyndon Dykes (Queen of the South).
Euan Murray (Raith Rovers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt blocked. Kevin Nisbet (Raith Rovers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Connor Murray (Queen of the South) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.
Corner, Queen of the South. Conceded by Callum Crane.
Corner, Queen of the South. Conceded by Dean Lyness.
Kyle Jacobs (Queen of the South) wins a free kick in the defensive half.