Morton 0 - 0 St. Johnstone

Morton 0 -
St. Johnstone 0 -

Att: 2810

This soul sapping 0-0 against league leaders St. Johnstone means that we are now 5 games unbeaten.

Irons named the same starting XI that drew 2-2 with Livingston last week. Rhian Dodds - who has been training with the club for a couple of weeks - was listed as a trialist and took a place on the bench.

This was as poor a match as you are likely to see. There weren't many good chances or extended periods of attractive attacking football. Saints manager Derek McInnes mentioned this in his post match comments in the News Of The World and hinted that his team failed to shine after a promising start because they were dragged down to our level: "We absolutely battered them! We were excellent for the first 15 to 20 minutes then we got involved in the battle and their style of play."

Our football was dreadful though. After a promising attacking performance last week we were back to aimless long balls that makes a midfield irrelevant as the ball just soars over their heads. I had an interesting discussion with a pal who plays amateur football after the match in which he talked about our tactics. His team play a 5 in midfield and in most matches their opponents find their central midfield are swamped because of the extra man his team have in the centre of the park. St. Johnstone played a similar system with Paul Sheerin, Jody Morris and Chris Millar flanked by Liam Craig at left-wingback and Gary Irvine at right-wing back. Stevie Masterton and Ryan McGuffie couldn't cope with their three opponents and this meant St. Johnstone were able to dominate the game. To counter this Morton either had to match their 3 in the centre of midfield - meaning losing a defender or attacker - or simply missing out the midfield and pumping the ball up to the strikers. That's exactly what we did but it didn't work as the Perth side's back three always looked comfortable.

St. Johnstone's two best chances fell to former Hearts and Ross County attacker Derek Holmes either side of halftime. The big striker headered just over after meeting Liam Craig's cross in the 12th minute and met another cross from the same player in the second half but this header crashed back off the crossbar to safety.

Our old friend Craig Thomson was up to his old tricks again when he made a big decision only to subsequently change his mind - only this time it went in our favour. The man who cancelled out Chris Templeman's equaliser against Hamilton Accies last season after already giving the goal pointed to the spot when Chris Smith fouled marauding right-wingback Irvine. However, the foul was clearly made outside the box and after consulting his linesman - after prompting from a crowd of 'Ton players - Thomson reversed his decision and gave a free-kick which Craig drove against the defensive wall.

Morton only came to life late on when Iain Russell replaced Wake. The striker - who has been linked with a move to Stirling Albion and Brechin City - looked very lively and it was one of his runs that almost allowed us to dramatically steal the three points. The former Brechin man's run and cut back fell to Weatherson and his powerful shot looked destined for the Alan Main's bottom right hand corner but Saints new signing Graham Gartland got an excellent block in and the ball went for a corner. I think Russell has earned a start against Clyde in two weeks.

In my last match report I suggested Jim McAlister needs a spell on the bench as he's been well off the boil this season and it would seem Davie Irons has recognised this as he substituted Jim with five minutes to go. Jim has only missed two matches in the last four years and throughout this time he has hardly ever been substituted so it was a surprise to see him taken off. He didn't look happy and failed to respond to the fans' applause (no big deal but given his status as a bit of a fans' favourite I thought he would acknowledge us - maybe his annoyance was exacerbated by the faint cheer that greeted his substitution) or go near Irons as he walked off.

I concluded my match report for the 0-0 draw with Dundee by saying: "I'm happy to come away from a venue like Dens Park with a draw but there's no reason why we can't start going to places like this and coming back with all three points. We just have to start creating more from open play." The same could be said of this result. I can't argue with a point (and clean sheet) against the league leaders who are, in my opinion, the best team in the league. I just wish our style of play was a bit more pleasing on the eye.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Cuthbert - 6
2. Walker - 7
3. Smith - 5
4. Shimmin - 8
5. Greacen (c) - 7
6. Masterton - 5
7. Finlayson - 6
8. McGuffie - 6
9. Weatherson - 6
10. Wake - 6 (15. Russell - 68 mins)
11. McAlister - 5 (12. Jenkins- 85 mins)

Subs Not Used:

14. Paartalu
16. Dodds [Trialist]
20. Stewart

Booked: McGuffie, Smith

Walker Greacen Shimmin Smith
Finlayson Masterton McGuffie McAlister
Weatherson Wake

St. Johnstone: Main, Irvine, Gartland, Morris, Rutkiewicz, McCaffrey, Millar, Craig, Holmes, Milne (Samuel 42), Sheerin.

Subs Not Used: Anderson, Swankie, Jackson, McLean.

My man of the match: Dominic Shimmin

Sponsor's man of the match: Dominic Shimmin

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

BBC match report

The Greenock Telegraph - match report

The Greenock Telegraph - match reaction

The Scottish Sun - match report

The Daily Record - match report

perthstjohnstonefc.co.uk - match report

Tontastic pictures

1 comment:

mortonjag said...

Thanks again for taking the trouble to give us decent match reports.

I thought Alex Walker had an excellent match, including a decent strike which Main saved.

We're at the stage in the season where me can either make a challenge for a top three spot, or settle for the dreary crap we had to suffer on Saturday.

Having seen Iain Russell's contribution on Saturday, I have to ask why he's been so much 'out of the picture'!