Livingston 0 - 2 Morton

Livingston 0 -
Morton 2 - Wake (19, 83)

Att: 1815

A Brian Wake double secured Morton's first ever win at Almondvale and moved us up to third in the league at Livingston's expense.

As expected Davie Irons went with the same team that beat Dundee 2-0 last week.

You may have read about Livingston's alleged financial troubles in the media but it's only when you visit the place that you can sense that this is a club in turmoil. On Saturday Almondvale had the eerie feeling and tense atmosphere that used to surround Cappielow during Hugh Scott's time as chairman. The matchday programme included an insert from chairman Angelo Massone (which you can read by clicking on the image at he bottom of this match report) in which he went on a Scott-esque rant about how everyone was conspiring against him; in particular five or six prominent fans (Livi's Danny Goodwin and Andy Morrison?) and the Scottish media. Outside the ground the Morton fans queued to get into just two turnstyles while others lay unused. Some fans began to complain and the police explained - in a tone that seems to suggest they are sceptical of the owners and have sympathy with the fans - that it was the club's decision to only open two turnstyles. Then after paying £17 to get in (possibly on top of a £5 charge to park your car) you have the choice of sitting on seats either caked in bird shit (pictured, directly below) or just boggin' with dirt. Sometimes when I'm at a football match I feel as if I'm at the centre of the universe, somewhere everyone wants to be that has the eyes of the nation on it (Scotland v France for example) but the small crowd of 1800 inside the all seater bowl gave you the feeling that this was the exact opposite; this was an event that no one else in Livingston knew was going on, wanted to be at or more importantly cared about. The Lions are in trouble and, apart from their small band of loyal fans, no one cares.

Anyway... on to the important stuff. All season we have read that Morton are a big, physical team but Saturday was the first time I really noticed it, both visually and through our dominance in the game. Our players looked like giants compared to the home team and played like it as well. We bullied them from start to finish and this helped us control the game for 90 minutes.

We took a deserved lead after 19 minutes. Kevin Finalyson took a quick throw in to Stevie Masterton who whipped over an excellent cross which Brian Wake met with a superb glancing header that looped over Roddy McKenzie's despairing dive in the Livi goal (pictured, below).

We almost doubled our lead minutes later when Ryan McGuffie used the inside of his right foot to curl a shot into the top corner but his effort was matched by McKenzie who managed to flick the ball over the bar.

In between those two chances Jim McAlister was booked for a dive on the edge of the box but from where I was sitting the decision looked harsh.

It wasn't a great match but we were working extremely hard and doing all the right things without creating too much but neither were Livi. Somethingthe defence deserve tremendous credit for considering they were up against Leigh Griffiths - Scotland under-19 internationalist, Irn-Bru young player of the month for March, who had recently been invited to train with Serie B side Parma - who has terrorised our back three on many occasions this season. It looked like Irons had identified Griffiths as the main threat as Stewart Greacen and Allan McManus appeared to concentrate on combining to stifle the green-booted striker (after Greacen had dealt with the woeful Armand One by giving him a couple of rough challenges early on). This might not have been by design but by necessity as Griffiths stuck to the left-hand side (Morton's right) meaning he was closer to Greacen, on the right of the back three, and McManus in the centre. Whatever the reasons this still left Alex Walker to deal with most other threats. Something he did, and admirably so, eventually earning him my man of the match.

Morton deserved their 1-0 lead going into the interval - a lead that could see us gain more ground on St. Johnstone in our unlikely (some would say imaginary) late title push. However, the nervous optimism dissipated as the news filtered through that St. Johnstone had retaken the lead against Dunfermline just before half-time.

The players came out in the second half and continued where they left off in the first. The defence were solid, the midfield worked hard as did the strikers. Jenkins, in particular, was colossal physcially. He constantly out-muscled his rivals in midfield. However, where he did let himself down a little was with his distribution. After dispossessing an opponent he would invariably surge forward on one of his trademark runs but then he would end up losing the ball by holding onto it too long instead of releasing a team mate. I just wonder if he was playing with a knock as this was uncharacteristic of the former Gretna man.

We doubled our lead in the 83rd minute and it was the enigma that is Wakey who grabbed his second. A McAlister throw in was flicked on by McGuffie and the ball fell perfectly for Wake who swivelled and hooked his left foot around the ball to fire it into McKenzie's bottom right hand corner. As I've said so many times in match reports I just can't get my head around Wake. He frustrates and delights in equal measure. One minute he can look so clumsy and slow in possession and drive you nuts by sitting sitters then the next he's in the right place at the right time to score an absolute belter. I can't believe the amount of times I'm standing with my mates and we are criticising him for a poor piece of play only for him to pop up with a goal a minute later and leave us all staring at each other open mouthed laughing as he celebrates wildly. As I said to my pal on Saturday: "He just scores goals." - and that's exactly what you want from your strikers. You can forgive him his weaknesses as long as he finds the back of the net regularly and the fact that this was his 12th goal of the season suggests he does.

Towards the end James Grady and Iain Russell replaced the tiring strike force as Morton cruised to the three points that would push us up to third ahead of today's opponents.

We were well worth our win and although St. Johnstone effectively ended any hope we had of finishing above them by beating Dunfermline 3-1 we have moved up to third with the chance of moving up to second if we beat Partick Thistle next week. Who thought we would have been saying that after we went through the first quarter of the season without a win.

Morton (3-5-2):

1. Cuthbert - 7
2. McManus - 8
3. Walker - 8
4. McGuffie - 7
5. Greacen (c) - 8
6. Masterton - 7
7. Finlayson - 6
8. Jenkins - 6
9. Weatherson - 7 (14. Russell - 74 mins)
10. Wake - 8 (12. Grady - 83 mins)
11. McAlister - 6

Subs Not Used:

15. Paartalu
16. Monti
20. Cannon

Booked: McAlister, Masterton

Greacen McManus Walker
Finlayson Jenkins Masterton McGuffie McAlister
Weatherson Grady

Livingston: McKenzie, McKay (MacDonald 46), Malone, Griffin, Davidson, Miller, McParland, Hamill, Griffiths, Fox (Halliday 53), One (Winters 53).

Subs Not Used: Sinclair, McDowall.

My man of the match: Alex Walker

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Angelo Massone's Statement [Programme insert] (Click to enlarge)

Greenock Telegraph match report

Greenock Telegraph match reaction

BBC match report

The Daily Record match report

The Scottish Sun match report

Tontastic Pictures

A Livi fan's pictures

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