Morton 2 - 2 Airdrie United

2 - Graham (52), Kean (64).
Airdrie United 2 - MacKay-Steven (23), Stevenson (47).

The lowest Cappielow crowd of the season saw a spirited second half fightback enable Morton to come from two goals down against Airdrie United to secure a replay, despite being reduced to 10 men.

Old foes Airdrie unsettled Morton with a whirlwind start and eventually took the lead in the 23rd minute when former Ross County and Liverpool youth Gary MacKay-Steven, who was superb all night out on the left of midfield, rifled home a sensational finish from 25 yards.

However, he was outdone by ex-Morton midfielder Jame Stevenson two minutes into the second half, when he, rather inevitably, scored. There was nothing inevitable about how it came, however, as he lined up to take a free-kick 40 yards from goal. But he struck a ferocious low, swerving strike which flew past Colin Stewart into his bottom left-hand corner to double his side's lead.

It was a fine strike but a goalkeeper shouldn't really be beaten from 40 yards and I suspect the Ton custodian will be disappointed to have conceded the goal.

Brian Graham brought his side back into the game shortly afterwards when he arrived right on cue to head Kevin McKinlay's superb cross into the ground and past Hearts loanee Mark Ridgers - who, like MacKay-Steven, is a product of the Ross County youth academy.

Graham has now netted a very impressive seven goals in nine consecutive starts to make him the club's top scorer this season.

The chances of a comeback appeared to vanish when Marc Smyth was sent off in the 54th minute for a pull on Scott Gemmill. The foul earned him a second booking after he'd been cautioned for dissent during the half-time interval.

Allan Moore has a very positive approach to football management: he wants his team to win every single match they play. And that ethos was evident when he decided to play on with three at the back rather than make a substitution to sacrifice a forward player for a defender to replace Smyth.

It paid off handsomely when Stewart Kean raced onto Stuart McCaffrey fantastic 50 yard diagonal pass and fired a low shot beyond Ridgers to level the scores at 2-2 and ensure that he re-joined Graham as the club's top scorer on seven goals.

Diamonds forward Gemmill had three excellent chances to give his side the lead, while Michael Tidser had an opportunity to score with a 22 yard fee-kick deep in injury time. Neither player could hit the target, though, and the match finished 2-2, ensuring that there would be a replay on Tuesday, 25 January.

You can read my full Greenock Telegraph match report here: Comeback Keeps Ton In Cup and reaction from Marc Smyth here: Smyth Sorry For Red Card.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Colin Stewart - 5
2. Grant Evans - 6
3. Kevin McKinlay - 6
4. Marc Smyth - 5
5. Stuart McCaffrey - 7
6. Michael Tidser - 7
7. Allan Jenkins - 7
8. Graeme Holmes - 6 (15. Fouad Bachirou, 68 - 2)
9. Stewart Kean - 7
10. Brian Graham - 6 (16. Peter Weatherson, 82 - 1)
11. David O'Brien - 7

Subs not used:

12. Carlo Monti
14. Kevin Kelbie
20. Kevin Cuthbert

Evans Smyth McCaffrey McKinlay
Jenkins Holmes Tidser O'Brien
Graham Kean

Airdrie United (4-4-2): Ridgers - 7; Bain - 5 (Muir, 70 - 4), Forrest - 7, Grant - 6, Goodall - 5, (Lovering, 68 - 6); Stevenson - 7, McCord - 6, Devlin - 6, MacKay-Steven - 8; Gemmill - 5, Ferguson - 6 (Craig, 57 - 3).

Subs not used: Fisher, Szpilcynski (gk).

Morton bookings: Smyth (h-t), Tidser (85)
, McCaffrey (86).

Morton sending off: Smyth (54).

Airdrie United bookings: Stevenson (66), Lovering (90+1)

Steven McLean


My man of the match:
Michael Tidser

View from the other side:


Morton 3 - 0 Cowdenbeath

3 - O'Brien (33), Jenkins (54), Graham (57).
Cowdenbeath 0 -

Morton cruised to victory against this season's bogey team Cowdenbeath at Cappielow in this one.

The Blue Brazil were a shadow of the side that won 2-1 at Cappielow at the beginning of the season, and who later secured a 2-2 draw at Central Park in October, despite being down to 10 men when goalkeeper David Hay was dismissed after seven minutes, having a 17-year-old, who had never played in the top team and had conceded five goals to Ton's under-19s just weeks before, replace Hay and surviving two Ton penalty kicks.

David O'Brien got the ball rolling when he leaped into the air to guide debutant Derek Lyle's superb right-wing cross over Hay and into the far corner. The ball looked to be over when O'Brien connected with the ball - something he actually admitted himself after the game - but dropped into the net at the last minute to surprise everyone.

Jenkins doubled the lead early in the second half when he collected a Graeme Holmes pass then danced between two players on the edge of the box before unleashing a strike which deflected off Scott Linton, flew high into the air and rather fortunately landed in the net behind Hay.

And the win was wrapped up when Brian Graham controlled another visionary Holmes pass, confidently dragged the ball around Hay and rolled the ball into net to make it six goals in eight games for the in-form frontman.

You can read my full Greenock Telegraph match report here: Ton Make An Ideal Start To 2011 and reaction from Derek Lyle and Allan Moore here: Lyle Is Hapy With Debut Show.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Colin Stewart - 6
2. Grant Evans - 7
3. Kevin McKinlay - 6 (14. Carlo Monti, 72 - 5)
4. Marc Smyth - 8
5. Stuart McCaffrey - 7
6. Michael Tidser - 6 (16. Fouad Bachirou, 80 - 5)
7. Allan Jenkins - 8
8. Graeme Holmes - 8
9. Derek Lyle - 8
10. Brian Graham - 7 (12. Stewart Kean, 74 - 5)
11. David O'Brien - 7

Subs not used:

15. Kevin Kelbie
20. Kevin Cuthbert

Evans Smyth McCaffrey McKinlay
Jenkins Holmes Tidser O'Brien
Graham Lyle

Cowdenbeath (4-3-3): Hay - 6; Baxter - 6, Armstrong - 6, Winter - 4, Vauls - 5; Cameron -6, Robertson - 5 (Ramsay, 72 - 3), Linton - 5; Ferguson - 5, Coult - 6 (Dempster, 69 - 3), Stewart - 7 (McKenzie, 61 - 4).

Subs not used: Brett, Roy (gk).

Morton bookings: McCaffrey (34), Evans (55)

Cowdenbeath bookings: Cameron (55)

Mike Tumilty


My man of the match:
Derek Lyle

View from the other side:

cowdenbeathfc.com - match report


Caff Is Content At Cappielow

Morton captain Stuart McCaffrey has denied speculation suggesting that he may be on his way out of Cappielow at the end of the season.

A snippet in Tuesday's Scottish Sun roughly said that the 31-year-old was attracting the attention of other First Division clubs after contract talks with Morton had broken down.

However, McCaffrey - whose one-year contract expires in May, leaving him free to talk to other clubs about a potential summer move since the beginning of January - has denied that talks have broken down - because they haven't properly started yet.

"I've had a very informal chat with the manager, just in passing really, but there's been nothing more to it than that," he explained to the Greenock Telegraph's Chris Tait. "One of my pals phoned me to say there was a wee bit on me in the papers. I think someone has maybe got in touch with my agent and he said I hadn't signed anything."

Although he admits talks at are a very early stage, he is, rather understandably, keen to get something sorted with the club. "I don't think there is any mad panic. The only thing I would say is that I'm in a situation where I'm married and have bills to pay like everybody else," he also told Tait.

"So the sooner I get my future sorted out the better. There really isn't a great deal of time left in the season, maybe only about four-and-a-half months."

Greenock Telegraph - Stuart Hopes To Extend Stay (05.01.2011)


Snow Chance

Today's Scottish Cup fourth round tie versus Airdrie United has failed a 9am pitch inspection to become the latest in a long line of postponements this winter.

Prior to today's cancellation, Ton matches against Falkirk (twice), Ross County, Queen of the South, Stirling Albion and Partick Thistle have already fallen victim to the prolonged cold snap.

The match will now be played on Tuesday, 18 January with a 7.30pm kick-off.

One player who will be particularly disappointed to hear the news will be the Diamond's ex-Ton midfielder Jamie Stevenson.

In Paul Hughes' Scottish Sun match report for the third round replay against Beith Juniors, he ended the article with match reaction from Stevenson. The 26-year-old looked ahead to the fourth round tie against his old club and had a bit of a dig at the Cappielow fans.

"Thankfully we're through and now it's a game against my old team," he told Hughes. "I still know a lot of the boys there so it'll be nice to go back and say hello.

"I think there were a few Morton fans here today booing me. It's nice to see some things never change."

The Greenock Telegraph's Chris Tait also read the quotes and spoke to him about what he'd said - and Stevenson stated that he wasn't totally serious in his comments.

"That was only a wee dig for some of their boys that were at the game," he explained. "There were a couple that gave me stick but that was a minority. Even when I was at Morton I got on well with them as well, so I have good memories."

gmfc.net - Morton -v- Airdrie (08.01.2011)

Greenock Telegraph - Jamie: Back To Say Goodbye (07.01.2011)


And Some Good News...

Young Celtic starlet Sean Fitzharris has today signed a new loan deal which will keep him at Cappielow until the end of the season.

A statement posted on the club's official website today read: "We are delighted to confirm that, following agreement with Celtic F.C., Sean Fitzharris will be at Cappielow for the remainder of this season.

"The details of the new loan have been finalised today."

The 19-year-old right-midfielder impressed in his original emergency loan, despite the fact that he only made four starts and two substitute appearances because of a dislocated shoulder (pictured, above).

Fitzharris was always keen to return to Ton when his original loan expired. “I’d like to come back as I’ve really enjoyed it here and just want to be playing first team football," he told me in an interview for the Greenock Telegraph last month (which I've posted an image of, bottom, as the article didn't appear online). “I’m not sure if it’s Neil Lennon I’ll have to speak to or one of the scouts at Celtic, but I’m needing to get away from Parkhead to play a bit of football. So I’ll be trying to get it sorted with them.”

In another interview with Sean, this time for the official matchday programme - you can read the full interview in the Partick Thistle programme when the game from 2 January is rearranged - he told me that Celtic had agreed that it would be beneficial to rejoin Morton. “I’ve spoken to Celtic scout John Park, who deals with the younger players’ loan deals,” he revealed, “and we agreed that it would be good for me to come back to Morton for the rest of the season.

“It was actually John who suggested that I come here on loan in the first place. A few weeks later, I played in a bounce a game against Morton and scored a couple of goals. I’m not sure if that’s why Allan Moore signed me - but I joined not long after."

There is, however, some bad news. According to the Tele's Russell Steele in his team news for the Airdrie cup tie, Fitzharris picked up a knock in a recent bounce game played against Rangers at Murray Park (pictured, directly below) and will miss tomorrow's match, should it go ahead.

The majority of the Ton squad got at least 45 minutes as they lost 1-0 to a team featuring Rangers first-team fringe players Kyle Lafferty, James Beattie, John Fleck, Jamie Ness and Andy Webster. Young substitute Kal Naismith scored the winning goal.

gmfc.net - Player News (07.01.2011)

Greenock Telegraph - Loan Extension Fitz For Me (30.12.2010)

Airdrie Game Subject To Pitch Inspection

Tomorrow's Scottish Cup tie versus Airdrie United is in major doubt after the club announced that there will be a 9am pitch inspection tomorrow morning.

A potential postponement will be hugely frustrating for both clubs, as Airdrie have recently suffered six cancellations of their third round tie against Beith, while Morton have only played one home match - against Dundee on 11 December - since the 2-1 win over Dunfermline on 6 November.

I have heard that the match is 99.9% sure to be cancelled and will then be rescheduled and played on Tuesday, 18 January.

gmfc.net - Pitch Inspection (07.01.2010)


Jackson Deal On Hold

Morton's loan move for Andy Jackson is on hold because the sides cannot agree terms on Ton's wage contribution.

According to Chris Tait in today's Greenock Telegraph, Moore has confirmed his interest in Jackson.

And although the Ton boss has admitted that he has spoke to St Johnstone about the player, he also reveals that he and Derek McInnes have not been able to reach an agreement on his wages.

"Andy Jackson is one we have looked at and we spoke to St Johnstone about him," Moore told Tait, "but it's not gone any further because of the wage demands.

"I had looked at his form since he came back from injury and inquired about him but myself and Derek can't reach an agreement on what we will pay for him and what they want."

Greenock Telegraph: Loan Deal Move Hits Cash Snag (06.01.2011).

Ton And Saints In Jackson Battle

Morton are battling it out with St Mirren to secure the services of St Johnstone's Andy Jackson, according to the Scottish Sun's Roger Hannah.

The small snippet in today's Sun is mostly about how St Mirren boss Danny Lennon is keen to secure Jackson's signature to solve his goalscoring problems, but ends by saying: "Morton are also interested."

Although he actually made a substitute appearance against Morton in the League Cup earlier in the season, Jackson finds himself out of favour with Derek McInnes and will probably welcome regular first-team football.

The 23-year-old frontman was very highly rated in his early days at McDiarmid Park, earning a cap for the Republic of Ireland under-21s, but his progress has been hampered by injury problems.

He's a player I've always rated, and if he still has the pace and clinical finishing ability that he demonstrated in the past, then I believe he could be exactly the type of striker Morton are looking for.