Morton 1 - 1 Dunfermline Athletic

Morton 1 - Wake (60)
Dunfermline Athletic 1 - Campbell (89)

Att: 2156

A late equaliser, a shocking refereeing decision and some crucial misses cost Morton a much deserved three points.

Davie Irons set the team up in a 4-4-2 formation. Ryan McGuffie - who it later turned out had a hamstring injury - was left out of the squad and Peter Weatherson came in in his place. Peter moved up front to partner Brian Wake.

In recent weeks Morton have been something of a one dimensional team. We set up with one up front and proceed to hit him with all manner of long balls. This approach has been causing growing frustration and after Tuesday's extra-time defeat at the hands of Caley Thistle Trust board memeber Bryan Purdue posted a poll on the Morton unofficial messageboard asking when it was okay to use the long ball. Fellow user Nach0king posted this simple yet enlightened response: "When it works". I thought that against the Pars we made the long ball work. This, I believe, was all down to one man - Peter Weatherson. Much has been said about his attitude but one thing that has never been in doubt it his ability. Peter can do what Brian Wake can't. He can receive a long ball on his chest, his thigh or on his instep and cushion it perfectly. Then he quickly readjusts his body to move the ball on. He also has the vision and presence of mind to pick out team mates with a well weighted pass. For the first twenty to thirty minutes Weatherson made the long ball work and we looked a constant threat.

We had our chances and should have put this match beyond Dunfermline. The first of three guilt edged chances fell to Jim McAlister in the twentieth minute. Brian Wake played the ball into his path, Jim didn't even have to break his stride but slammed his shot high into the side netting. The whole of the Cowshed, believing the ball was rippling the net on the right side of the posts, jumped in unison only to realise their mistake when Jim held his head in his hands. This really should've been one-nil Morton.

Shortly afterwards Brian Wake missed another sitter. Jim McAlister skipped past a couple of challenges on the edge of the box and unleashed a shot that Paul Gallacher failed to grasp. The parry fell to Wake who, somehow, managed to hit Gallacher instead of putting the ball into the empty net.

Morton seemed to lose momentum towards the end of the half as Dunfermline came back into the game. However, the visitors failed to create anything of note and the teams went in level at half-time.

The first major incident in the second-half turned out to be the game's main talking point. Stevie Masterton sent in an inswinging corner from the left. It was unclear just who got a touch but the ball appeared to hit the crossbar and come down over the line. I was standing at the old away end of the Cowshed and even from that far away it looked a certain goal. A picture on the back page of today's Greenock Telegraph shows that the ball was, quite conclusively, over the line. Referee Steven Nicholls later explained that he didn't give the goal because Morton players didn't claim for it. I also found it strange that our players didn't seem too annoyed but that still shouldn't be the basis on which a referee makes a decision. My brother later informed me that Allan Jenkins was warming up behind the goal at the time and made a hand gesture to the Morton bench that suggested the ball was well over the line.

The players quickly shrugged off the disappointment and got back on the front foot. This refusal to feel sorry for themsleves was rewarded when we scored from a similar situation minutes later. It was the sixtieth minute that Masterton put over a corner from the opposite side, Dominic Shimmin flicked on and Wake strecthed to hook a shot into the top corner from close range.

We really should have put the game to bed five minutes later but this time it was Iain Russell who turned sinner. Jim McAlister won possession and burst forward. The winger went to pass to Wake but his pass was woefully underweighted and this seemed to take the impetus from the move. However, Wake recovered the situation with an excellent pass that put Iain Russell one-on-one with Gallacher. The former Brechin man took some time to compose himself and then with the goal at his mercy he blazed his finish high and wide at the near post. Russell seemed to have a lot of time to pick his spot which made his decision to take his shot on his weaker left foot inexplicable. The angle begged for the Russell to curl a right-footed effort round Gallacher and into the far corner. Why he thrashed at the ball with his left I'll never know.

You just knew that those three sitters would come back to haunt us and they did with only one minute left on the clock. The goal is bit muddled in my head but what I remember is a Dunfermline player skinning Ryan Harding and unleashing a cross-cum-shot that Kevin Cuthbert somehow managed to push up onto the bar. Chris Smith came charging in to clear put flew over the top of the ball. This left Ryan Campbell - on loan at Dunfermline from Hibs - with a tap in at the back post.

Dunfermline had a couple of chances to win it at the end but the Morton defence held firm for a point.

It's easy to point at the referee in this sort of situation as his decision was shocking but you also have to look at the chances we missed. If McAlister, Wake or Russell put their chances away the disallowed goal wouldn't have mattered. These hard luck stories are exactly the sort of things you often hear coming from the manager and players whose team have played well but failed to win and whose teams often find themselves relegated at the end of the season.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Cuthbert - 7
2. Walker - 7
3. Smith - 8
4. Shimmin - 8
5. Paartalu - 7
6. Harding (c) - 6
7. Russell - 6 (12. Jenkins - 84 mins)
8. Masterton - 7
9. Wake - 6
10. Weatherson - 7
11. McAlister - 8

Subs Not Used:

14. Finlayson
15. McManus
16. McAnespie
20. McWilliams

Booked: Paartalu

Walker Shimmin Harding Smith
Russell Masterton Paartalu McAlister
Wake Weatherson

Dunfermline: Gallacher, Scott Thomson, Wilson (Woods 21), Phinn (Campbell 74), Shields, McCann, Harper (Wiles 64), Glass, Bayne, Kirk, Burke.

Subs Not Used: Bell, Reidford.

Booked: Glass, Woods.

My man of the match: Jim McAlister

Sponsor's man of the match: Jim McAlister

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Greenock Telegraph match report

BBC match report

Tontastic Pictures

dafc.co.uk match report

dafc.co.uk match reaction

Sunday Mail match report

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