Airdrie United 1 - 0 Morton

Airdrie United 1 - Lynch (45 pen)
Morton 0 -

Att: 1663

Chris Smith's woefully short back pass in the 44th minute eventually resulted in Kevin Cuthbert being sent-off and conceding a penalty that meant Morton went 1-0 down right on half-time with little chance of getting back into the match.

The only changes to the team that beat Ross County the previous week were in the striking department. Peter Weatherson - back after a two match suspension - and James Grady replaced Brian Wake and Iain Russell. Colin Stewart and Alex Walker both took a place on the bench for the first time in a long time. The decision to list Stewart as the substitute goalkeeper for the first time in weeks turned out to be a very fortunate one.

Morton dominated the first half and were particularly strong in the first 20 - 25 minutes. Stevie Masterton drilled a low free-kick just wide and also hit a decent long range effort that went narrowly over the bar. The shot didn't really trouble Stephen Robertson in the Airdrie goal but I was really impressed with the way Masterton managed to generate such power in the shot with little backlift. This powerful shooting ability is obviously a key ingredient in Masterton's cannonball free-kicks. I've noticed that the power of Masterton's free-kicks is about as important as the accuracy; he doesn't just curl them into the top corner - he blasts them past the keeper.

James Grady, Allan Jenkins and Peter Weatherson missed decent chances as did Simon Lynch at the other end before Chris Smith blundered. Weatherson's skill to manufacture the chance for himself is worth further mention. He collected a bouncing ball on the left of the Airdrie box. He knocked it back inside Bobby Donnelly with the outside of his right foot and then went round Willie McLachlan and opened up for a strike at goal. The space and angle was screaming out for Peter to use the inside of his right foot to curl the ball round Robertson and into the top corner. However, for reasons only known to Peter (maybe a sign of low confidence) he elected to use power and his rising shot ended up going over the bar. We were also treated to Scott McLaughlin's usual array of woeful long range shots as he was obviously desperate to score against us again but this time his luck wasn't in, thank God.

On the balance of play Morton probably deserved to be winning but we really failed to create any guilt edged chances and we were made to pay a minute before half-time. Smith turned to pass the ball back to Cuthbert but the pass was underweighted and Lynch collected the ball and rounded the Morton goalkeeper. With the ball already past Cuthbert the former St. Johnstone man tripped Lynch with his right arm to stop the Airdrie striker from slotting home. So we were now down to 10 men and facing a penalty. Smith was immediately replaced by Colin Stewart whos first job was to pick Lynch's penalty out of the back of the net. I can understand Smith coming in for major flak here but I was also annoyed with Cuthbert and perplexed at the fans who applauded him off the park. He should have just let Lynch scored as the likliehood is that they will score the penalty but at least we would've still had 11 men to try and win against the team who are bottom of the league. Smith was treated to a Davie Irons hairdryer in the dug out for the mistake that ultimately cost us the match. However, Irons later refused to blame Smith publicly - anyone who saw Irons in the dugout will know exactly where he thinks the blame lies.

Irons remained positive and reshuffled by moving to a 3-4-2 in the second half but this was to no avail as we failed to grab an equaliser. Allan Jenkins came closest when he burst through but just when he was about to pull the trigger Stephen McKenna appeared from nowhere to get a leg and deflect the ball wide for a corner.

We also had a penalty shout turned down when Grady knocked the ball round Robertson and fell over him. It was never a penalty and by the look on Grady's face and his half hearted claims you could see he knew it as well.

By the end it was clear we were never going to score especially when Wake, on as a substitute, took all the impetus out of an attack by turning 360 degrees towards his own goal and playing the ball backwards when he had a decent chance to run at the opposition. Then when the ball was pumped forward he headered it straight up into the air and then headered it again only in the wrong direction. A couple of moments that summed up the enigma that is Brian Wake. The man who sometimes looks like he's never played football before but who seems to score everytime he plays.

I believe we would've probably got a win out of this if Smith hadn't blundered and if Cuthbert didn't get sent-off - but they did. So we have to start winning again as Airdrie have now clawed back three points and as a result of this defeat we have dropped back into second bottom place. Another couple of defeats and we could be back were we were in mid-October.

Morton (1st half: 4-4-2, 2nd half: 3-4-2):

1. Cuthbert - 6
2. MacGregor - 6
3. Smith - 4 (20. Stewart - 44 mins)
4. Shimmin - 7
5. Greacen (c) - 7
6. Jenkins - 7
7. Finlayson - 6
8. Masterton - 6
9. Weatherson - 7
10. Grady - 6 (12. Wake - 64 mins)
11. McAlister - 6

Subs Not Used:

14. McManus
15. McGuffie
16. Walker

Booked: Masterton.

Sent Off: Cuthbert (44).

1st Half

MacGregor Greacen Shimmin Smith
Finlayson Jenkins Masterton McAlister
Grady Weatherson

2nd Half

Greacen Shimmin MacGregor
Finlayson Jenkins Masterton McAlister
Grady Weatherson

Airdrie United: Robertson, McLachlan, Nixon, McDonald, Bobby Donnelly, Smyth, McDougall (Mcguire 90), McKenna, Lynch (Di Giacomo 72), McLaughlin, Cardle (Darren Smith 87)

Subs Not Used: Brown, Hollis

Booked: Di Giacomo

My man of the match: Marc Smyth (Airdrie)

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

BBC match report

Greenock Telegraph - match report

Greenock Telegraph - match reaction

The Scottish Sun - match report

Tontastic Pictures

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