East Stirling Under-19s 1 - 1 Morton Under-19s

East Stirling Under-19s 1 - Number 9
Morton Under-19s 1 - Monti

U-19s League Cup
2pm kick-off
Sunday 22nd March 2009
Firs Park

by Chris Silver

Even though this match was played on Mothering Sunday your roving reporter managed to use up some football vouchers to take in the delights of Falkirk for the Morton Under-19s trip to take on their East Stirling counterparts.

Morton's young management duo of Allan McManus and James Grady will have mixed emotions with the result against the Shire. We shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw but this was game we really should have won; particularly as sterner opposition await with Dumbarton, Ayr United and Partick Thistle also in our group (section 2) for the League Cup.

Chalky rang the changes but kept faith with the 4-3-3 formation. Darren McGeough took up the holding role in midfield in place of Lee Mitchell, who found himself on the bench. First team regulars 'Big Paddy' (defence) and Kenneth MacKay were both missing. As a result Liam Kerrigan, Ryan McWilliams and Troy McKerrell found themselves needed on the bench while Carlo Monti - a recent signing from Celtic - took up a position on the left of the midfield three.

The bright sunshine warmed the rutted surface of Firs Park as the 2 teams took to the park. As the game kicked off the young Ton side wasted no time in exerting some early pressure from a series of corners but indifferent delivery and a pitch that had a surface reminiscent of some of the potholed roads of Inverclyde hampered our chances of scoring.

It was clear from these early exchanges that the Shire were pretty limited so it seemed more a case of when, rather than if, the Ton would open them up. A neat triangle of passing between Monti (pictured, above left) Daniel Friel and Nathan Shepherd released Friel. The striker's first touch deceived his marker but his shoot was easily dealt with by their keeper.

Friel was definitely causing problems. A cross field pass by McGeough presented Friel with a one-on-one chance but he failed to tuck it away.

With the clock running down to half-time Morton conceded an unlikely goal to somehow make a match in which they'd been totally dominant an uphill struggle. The same defensive frailties seem to undo us every week. The centre-back pairing are slow to react to balls through the middle and it was just such a ball that allowed East Stirling number 9 to smash the ball past the stranded Kieran Cannon from the edge of the box to make it 1-0 to the home side.

I have to say I was shellshocked as I had just witnessed, in my humble opinion, the most hapless team I have seen this season take a totally undeserved lead into the half-time interval.

McManus resisted the temptation to make changes and started the second half with the same team that took to the field in the first half. Despite a renewed vigour from the restart it was Shire's Number 9 who almost netted a second with a quick turn and rifled shot which went agonisingly close to hitting the net.

Our passing game was always in evidence although new signing Monti was guilty of over elaborating by trying to bamboozle East Stirling team rather than play the simpler pass - something more in keeping with his team mates playing style.

We started to exert more pressure and as usual most of the danger came down our left hand side as Chris Gordon and Shepherd - who had, not unusually, abandoned his left-back role to appease his more attacking instincts - combined to good effect. However, the Shire's goalkeeper was proving a bit of an obstacle as he made a series of fine stops to deny efforts from McGeough, Friel and Monti.

Morton continued to search for the equaliser and a short burst by Friel earned a free-kick in a good position after he was felled by the incoming centre half. Unfortunately the free kick was poor as another good chance was spurned. Minutes later Gordon played in the overlapping Shepherd but his cross wasn't accurate enough.

We looked as if we could play all day and not score so East Stirling must've been gutted when Monti's long range free kick sailed by everyone and dropped behind their goalkeeper into the net to level the score at 1-1.

McManus deciced to make a few changes at this juncture: Mark Melville was replaced by Kerrigan with Anthony Houston moving to the central defence and Kerrigan coming in at right-back. Personally, I thought McLay was a spent force in midfield and could have been replaced to push for a winner.

Monti forced the save of the day with a fierce drive from around 12 yards while Gordon was also impressing with his determined tackling in an attempt to cover for Shepherd 'who had cut the string' and gone on a charge. However, the game fizzled out with neither side being fully convincing. This should have been the easiest of the games we have in this section and I'm sure Chalky will be disappointed not to have taken the three points back to Greenock.

Morton (4-3-3):

Houston Unknown Melville Shepherd
McLay McGeough Monti
Friel Unknown Gordon

Morton Under-19s Results - Season 2008/09

thescottishfootballleague.com - Under 19 League Cup Tables

thescottishfootballleague.com - Under 19 League Cup Results

thescottishfootballleague.com - Under 19 League Cup Fixtures

thescottishfootballleague.com - Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Under 19

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