Morton 2 - 1 Ross County

Morton 2 - Masterton (35), Wake (64)
Ross County 1 - Morrison (24)

Att: 1853

Morton won 2-1 in a match that will be remembered for its free-kicks.

Davie Irons made quite a few changes to the team that lost 1-0 to St. Johnstone last week. He replaced the 4-5-1 formation (which he claimed was a 4-3-3 in the Tele' during the week - it wasn't Davie) with a 4-4-2 and made three personnel changes. Brian Wake and Iain Russell came in up front while Stevie Masterton took a place in midfield; James Grady, Erik Paartalu and Ryan McGuffie were the players to make way. I was quite surprised to see Brian Wake partnered with Iain Russell up front because Russell seemed to be out of favour while Grady appears to be the catalyst for our revival, he also ploughed a lonely furrow up front himself last week and, for me, didn't deserve to be dropped [After typing this report up I learned from a post by Tonsilitis that Grady had been feeling unwell all week and wasn't fit to start the match]. It was also a bit of a shock to see McGuffie on the bench as he had started every match except one up until today. Peter Weatherson was still out as this match was the second of his two match suspension.

Morton were the first to have a go from a free-kick when set piece specialist Stevie Masterton smashed a free-kick off the cross bar and over.

Shortly afterwards - in the 24th minute to be precise - County took the lead through a free-kick of their own. From where I was standing it looked like Scott Morrison's left footed free-kick went over the wall and dipped quickly beating Kevin Cuthbert low to his left. However, in the News Of The World match report the journalist suggests that the ball went around the wall. No matter which way it went it I still though it was a nice free-kick and wouldn't lay any blame with Cuthbert as some people close to me seemed to do. However, it would be interesting to read comments from supporters who were closer to the incident, particularly anyone standing on the Sinclair Street end.

The game was quite stop start with both teams giving away a lot of free-kicks around the edge of the box. With Masterton already hitting the bar from one and Ross County scoring one there seemed to be an inevitability about Masterton scoring from the free-kick we were awarded in the 35th minute - and he did. The former Clyde man stepped up and blasted the ball through the wall and into Tony Bullock's bottom left hand corner.

I'm a big fan of Masterton and would like to see him given a regular place in the centre of midfield. He has a good range of passing, has a physical presence about him and is a big threat from set pieces.

So, after a pretty boring first half we went into the interval drawing 1-1. This was probably a fair reflection of the match as neither team had really threatened in open play.

The second half was much better and saw both sides miss a catalogue of chances.

For Morton Iain Russell passed up a great chance to make it 2-1 when he weakly headered into the side netting. Russell did well to get in front of his marker to meet an excellent near post cross but he appeared to connect with the ball using a combination of his shoulder and head and only succeeded in knocking the ball past the post. He should have scored and to fail to at least hit the target was criminal.

When we signed Russell I thought he would turn out to be a really good signing; an opinion I continued to espouse even in the face of some poor finishing, particularly in one-on-one situations, and continuous offsides. I always defended him when most of my mates criticised him and said he wasn't up to it. However, over the last few months and on the basis of his performance today I've gradually come to the conclusion that we've wasted £40,000. I think he's a decent 2nd division player but if we want to become challengers in the 1st division we need much better. Sorry Iain but please feel free to prove me wrong.

Although Wake scored what turned out to be the winner he also missed a couple of golden chances. Before the goal he popped up in the box and took an esquisite touch to control a ball played over the top. The pass looked as if it was sailing past him and out for a goal kick but he plucked it out of the air with his right foot then opened up his body to try and curl the ball round Bullock's dive however his finish was too close to the 'keeper. He was also thwarted by the base of the post when his shot went through a defender's legs and wrong-footed Bullock but it struck the upright and trickled wide.

The winner came in the 64th minute. A Masterton free-kick - what else and by who else - was headed towards goal by Stewart Greacen. The Captain's looping header was flicked on into the net by Wakey who was standing in front of Bullock on the line. Bullock was furious and ran to the linesman to protest when the goal was given. Given that he'd run to the linesman and not the referee I'd assume he considered Wake to be offside. Despite his protests the goal stood and it was 2-1 Morton.

The Highlanders had a few decent chances themselves. Cuthbert scrambled backwards to tip an inswinging cross onto the underside of bar after he'd been caught out of position, Greacen made an excellent goal line clearance and County smashed a free-kick into the wall after Greacen was adjudged to have fouled on the edge of the box. If this was a foul I think it should have been a penalty as it looked to me as if the foul took place just inside the box.

This match was pretty devoid of any quality and our performance wasn't the best but there were enough incidents in the second half to keep the match entertaining. You can't argue with three points as a Christmas present - especially when you are getting a bit of revenge over the team that hammered us 3-0 and 4-1 in successive weeks in October.

Finally, I'd just like to give an honourable mention and big thanks to the individuals who did so much to make sure this match went ahead after Cappielow was flooded the previous night.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Cuthbert - 7
2. MacGregor - 7
3. Smith - 7
4. Shimmin - 7
5. Greacen (c) - 8
6. Jenkins - 7
7. Finlayson - 7
8. Masterton - 8 (16. Paartalu - 87 mins)
9. Wake - 7
10. Russell - 5 (15. Grady - 60 mins)
11. McAlister - 6

Subs Not Used:

12. McManus
14. McGuffie
20. McWilliams

Booked: McAlister, Shimmin

MacGregor Shimmin Greacen Smith
Finlayson Jenkins Masterton McAlister
Wake Russell

Ross County: Bullock, McCulloch, Keddie, Dowie, Boyd, Watt (Gardyne 78), Hart (Higgins 69), Brittain, Craig, Scott, Morrison (Strachan 62).

Subs Not Used: Golabek, Soutar

Booked: Craig, Bullock, Keddie, Watt.

My man of the match: Stevie Masterton

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Greenock Telegraph - match report

Greenock Telegraph - match reaction

BBC - match report

News Of The World - match report


mortonjag said...

I couldn't agree more with your point about Steve Masterton. He sat on the bench throughout the 90 minutes at Perth when his involvement in even ONE set piece could have seen us take a point or all three. The guy next to me yesterday was arguing that he SHOULDN'T be playing because he is a full back. Superb, I replied, play him at right back and drop the feckless no 2 we have at the moment.

Anonymous said...

wat was the 50/50 no? i dont like masterton in open play.

Jonathan Mitchell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jonathan Mitchell said...

The 50/50 number was 107479 according to greenockmorton.org poster Inverally who does the tannoy at Cappielow.