Morton 2 - 2 Livingston

Morton 2 - Wake (13), McGuffie (15)
Livingston 2 - Griffiths (81), Smith O.G. (87)

Att: 2307

A combination of profligate finishing, a terrible defensive error and poor management saw Morton squander a two goal lead in a match that should've been wrapped up before half-time.

The only change to the team that drew 0-0 at Dundee last week was the reintroduction of the fit again Dominic Shimmin at Allan McManus's expense.

Morton sprinted out of the starting blocks and, in a very similar manner to Queen Of The South two weeks earlier, went two nil up in the first fifteen minutes. Brian Wake became our top scorer for the season when he stretched out a leg to flick / skite Alex Walker's excellent cross past an exposed Roddy McKenzie in the Livi goal. As well as Walker's excellent cross Kevin Finlayson also deserves special mention as it was his driving run and lay off for Walker to cross that started the move. Finners put in an excellent shift for the full 90 minutes - something that was recognised by those in hospitality with his man of the match award.

Our second goal came from a very familiar source - a Stevie Masterton set piece. The former Clyde man whipped in an inviting corner that Ryan McGuffie met with a bullet header that flew into the net via the underside of the cross bar. So we were two nil up and flying after just fifteen minutes. The talk between my pals and I turned to how many we would get and how satisfying it would be to get revenge for the 6-1 and 4-0 hammerings last season.

We then proceeded to squander numerous chances with Brian Wake and Jim McAlister the main culprits. In the 27th minute Wake skilfully knocked the ball round a defender and ran onto it however his next touch was dreadful and this allowed McKenize to close him down and block his shot.

Jim McAlister had two one-on-one opportunities but blew them both. To be fair the first was unlucky as he timed his run well to beat the offside trap but McGuffie's through ball hit him on the heels and rebounded to safety. The second was a terrible miss in my opinion. He sprang the offside trap again but McKenzie had raced from his line to close him down. Jim either tried to round him or shoot but whatever it was the ball hit McKenzie and flew up into the air. Some will say it was a difficult chance but I still believe he should've tried to volley the ball into the net with McKenzie stranded but he elected to drag the ball round James McPake who flew back and Dave Mackay who was on the line and roll the ball in but his touch was too heavy and by time he got the ball he couldn't turn and get a shot in and the ball was cleared to safety.

So we went in 2-0 up at half-time but it should've been more. There were now murmurs of how we might live to regret our misses, especially if Livi managed to pull one back.

However, we seemed to pick up where we left off in the first half. Creating numerous chances but, crucially (as it would turn out),not taking them. Wake headered an excellent McAlister cross against the cross bar and over when it looked easier to score.

Then Jim blasted over after arriving at the back post - something that gives me a feeling of deja vu as it seems to happen in every match. McAlister really needs to work on his finishing as this has been a flaw in his game for too long and he doesn't even come close to hitting the target most times, never mind scoring. I've always been one of Jim's biggest fans and most staunch defenders in the face of criticism but apart from his performances against Inverness Caley Thistle and Hibs he is having a dreadful season. I can't criticise him for effort but it looks to me like he needs a spell on the bench but the only problem with that is who to play on the left of midfield.

We were punished for our poor finishing when Leigh Griffiths used his new white boots to smash a stunning volley through a crowded box and into Cuthbert's goal nine minutes from time and again six minutes later when Chris Smith - who had a nervy 90 minutes - inexplicably diving headered former Morton trialist Tony McParland's cross into his own goal with no one around him.

By around the 70 minute mark it was obvious the game was changing. The Morton midfield was porous - Masterton was knackered and McGuffie disappeared after a promising first half. Allan Jenkins or Erik Paartalu should've been brought on to shore up the midfield but Davie Irons waited too long to take action and only put Jenkins on for McGuffie after Livingston had pulled one back and after the Guffster was injured in a tackle and had to be replaced. By then it was too late and our defence had taken to defending on the six yard line (a slight exaggeration but they were incredibly deep) and all our attacking impetus was gone. After the first goal the second was inevitable.

I was absolutely gutted by the two late goals as not only had we thrown away a certain victory but I also had a £20 single on Morton @ 5/4 (pictured, below) and had spent the half-time interval deciding what to spend the winnings on. Such was the gut wrencing disappointment that I choose to walk home myself and stew on the result. On my walk home I listened to Sportsound (and was slightly cheered up by a guy who texted in to say that if anyone has Martin O'Neill's mobile number could they text the Aston Villa manager and tell him he hates him and he hopes his team get relegated as they had cost him £40,000 by failing to beat Doncaster in the FA Cup) and the reporter for our much started his report with the line "Harry Houdini has nothing on Livingston..." and he was right, Livingston didn't deserve a draw, but a combination of wasteful finishing, terrible defending and poor management means we only have ourselves to blame.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Cuthbert - 6
2. Walker - 7
3. Smith - 5
4. Shimmin - 7
5. Greacen (c) - 8
6. Masterton - 6
7. Finlayson - 8
8. McGuffie - 7 (14. Jenkins - 85 mins)
9. Weatherson - 8
10. Wake - 7
11. McAlister - 5

Subs Not Used:

12. McManus
15. Russell
16. Paartalu
20. Stewart

Booked: Smith

Walker Greacen Shimmin Smith
Finlayson Masterton McGuffie McAlister
Weatherson Wake

Livingston: McKenzie, MacKay, Talbot (Miller 62), McPake, Davidson, MacDonald (Jacobs 87), McParland, Griffin, Griffiths, Winters, One [Trialist]

Subs Not Used: Hamill, Halliday, Martini.

My man of the match: Peter Weatherson

Sponsor's man of the match: Kevin Finlayson

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

BBC match report

The Greenock Telegraph - match report

The Greenock Telegraph - match reaction

The Greenock Telegraph - Chris's Feeling Of Woe (26.01.2009)

The Scottish Sun - match report

The Daily Record - match report

livingstonfc.co.uk - match report

Tontastic pictures

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