Cowdenbeath v Morton Preview

Morton are in cup action for the second Saturday in a row as they travel to Fife to face Cowdenbeath in the 1st round of the Co-operative Insurance Cup tomorrow.

We go into the game on the back of a 1-0 win against Dumbarton. The Blue Brazil will also be confident having come back from one nil down to beat Peterhead 2-1 at Balmoor; the kind of result we could've really done with in last season's Scottish cup.

So far this season Davie Irons has experimented with a 4-5-1 formation. This formation easily turns unto a 4-3-3 if you have the right personnel in the wide positions and look to attack for most of the game. The flexibility of the formation seems to have made it popular throughout Europe. It's also attractive because the manager can change between the two from game to game with minimum disruption to his players - if they can play one, they can play the other. Last week at Dumbarton the formation was a 4-3-3 but it switched back to the 4-5-1 for the Renfrewshire cup final. I think it's likely that Irons might go back to the 4-3-3 seeing that we are up against lower league opposition.

On the injury front we are still without Dominic Shimmin and Kevin Cuthbert but have a full squad apart from those two. Brian Fairbairn returns for Cowdenbeath and Neil McCabe, Gareth Wardlaw and Scott McBride are set to make their home debuts. Former Morton player Jay Shields (pictured, below) is currently playing with the Central Park side but is doubtful after he missed last Saturday's match with Peterhead due to a foot injury. Darren McGregor and Danny McKay definitely miss out as both have recently undergone surgery.

Admisson Prices

Adults - £10
OAP - £5
Children under-16 - Free

Last Meeting

31.03.2007 - Scottish 2nd Division
Morton 3 - 0 Cowdenbeath

Possible line up

McGuffie Greacen Walker Monti
Masterton MacFarlane Jenkins
Finlayson Weatherson McAlister

Betting (high street prices)

Morton are best priced at 5/6 with and .
Cowdenbeath are 5/2 with .
The Draw is 13/5 with .

My Predicition

Cowdenbeath 1 - 2 Morton
7/1 with , , and

scottishfootballleague.com - Co-Op Cup 1st Round Previews (31.07.2009)

bbc.co.uk - match preview

oddschecker.com - Cowdenbeath v Morton

Jenks Targets Double Figures

Allan Jenkins got the season off to a goalscoring start with the winner in the Challenge Cup tie against Dumbarton and the equaliser in the Renfrewshire Cup final and the big midfielder is hungry for more.

Yesterday he told the Greenock Telegraph's Craig Stewart of his ambition to beat his four goal haul from last season (he actually only scored three competitive goals), he said: "This season my first aim is to play in as many games as possible and then beat the four-goal total I achieved last season.

"I only scored four as I missed half of last season through injury, so it is great to get off to a good start with a goal at Paisley after the one at Dumbarton.

"Midfielders should be contributing double figures in terms of goals and that's what I am aiming for."

Greenock Telegraph - Jenkins Wants More Goals (30.07.2009)

*Photo courtesy of Thomas Smillie


McGraw On Rae, Scott and 1995/96

Morton legend Allan McGraw turned 70 yesterday and the Greenock Telegraph sports editor Roger Graham commemorated the event by writing a series of articles taking a look at the prolific striker's career.

I was unfortunate to miss most of Graham's articles while on holiday but I read the sixth and final installment in the Wednesday 22nd July edition of the paper and thought it made excellent reading.

The article focused on his time as Ton manager and the interview gave some interesting insights into his time in the Cappielow hotseat. McGraw's first revelation was that although he head great admiration for Benny Rooney it was Rooney who gave him his biggest problem when he took over as manager. In his opinion Rooney had neglected the youth set up and he believed a strong youth set up was the only way for a club like Morton to survive. He said: That's the only criticism I've got of Benny, because I thought Benny was great manager, but some way along the line he lost the youth policy. I don't know why.

"Maybe it's wrong of me to say that, because you do go through barren spells.But when Benny left there was no youth policy."

McGraw (pictured, above left) also confirmed what many Morton fans have said for years - signing Brian Reid cost us promotion in the 1995/96 season. Not specifically because we signed Reidy but because the directors signed him instead of a midfielder, which he felt was the priority after Derek McInnes had moved to Rangers and Alan Mahood and Janne Lindberg were on the sidlines with long term injuries: "I lost the three of them, and I needed a midfielder. That's where I blame the directors. They bought Brian Reid and, nothing against Brian, but I needed a midfielder. The loss of that midfield is what did it."

The article took on a sad tone when McGraw revealed he had big regrets about the way he left the club under Hugh Scott. Looking back he felt he should've fought harder and feels ashamed about his Cappielow exit. McGraw lamented: "I feel ashamed of myself at times when I think back. I had just lost my wife [Jean] in 1996, and I suppose a lot of the fight had gone out of me. I seemed to go along with things that I normally wouldn't have. I probably could have done more.

"It's the one regret I have. Normally I would've fought harder."

Graham then asked McGraw his feelings about the club at present and his response confirmed the rumours that he doesn't see eye to eye with the current chairman Douglas Rae: "Douglas and I didn't have the greatest relationship. I respect the man. He saved Morton. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it would've gone down if Douglas hadn't saved it, but it might not have been as good financially.

"I give him credit. He's done well with the stadium. He's a Morton fanatic and I respect that. But sometimes you've got to step back and let other people do their jobs, and I think that's the one failing maybe Douglas has got."

It was encouraging to read that despite this rift McGraw has been back at Cappielow as a guest of Alistair Donald in recent times. Hopefully, Allan McGraw - a true Morton legend - makes many more trips back to Cappielow in future as it would be criminal to think a man whose life revolved around the club for so long would feel reluctant to come back and watch a match whenever he wanted to.


St. Mirren 2 - 1 Morton

St. Mirren 2 -Dorman (24), O'Donnell (67)
Morton 1 - Jenkins (47)

Att: 4316 (1381 away fans)

A weakened Morton side put up a decent fight against SPL rivals St. Mirren but in the end it just wasn't enough as the Paisley side lifted the Renfrewshire Cup to make it four tournament wins in a row.

Davie Irons took the somewhat controversial decision to rest key players for this match with Saturday's trip to Cowdenbeath in mind. Peter Weatherson, Jim McAlister, Ryan McGuffie and Carlo Monti all found themselves on the bench while Neil MacFarlane, Stewart Greacen and Bryn Halliwell were left out of the squad completely. This gave fringe players such as Colin Stewart, Ryan Harding, Erik Paartalu, Iain Russell and Davie MacGregor a chance to stake a claim for a first team place but none of them were particularly convincing. Irons went back to the 4-5-1 formation with most players in the position you'd expect with the exception of Iain Russell who replaced Jim McAlister on the left of midfield.

This was our first visit to St. Mirren Park and it seemed a bit better inside the stadium than it does from the outside or on television. However, as I said, it's only a bit better. I still think it's a pretty poor effort and the small stands and poor acoustics had me, and probably most of the away support, reminiscing about the Caledonia stand at Love Street. The experience wasn't helped by the farcical stewarding by PMC security. Some of their stewards were telling people to sit where they wanted while others were making people move out of seats to accomodate those with tickets and this was creating chaos all over the stand - I watched in amazement as five people were moved from their seat ten minutes into the match while hundreds of youths sat together at the back in the centre of the stand without being challenged.

In an exact role reversal of Saturday's match against Dumbarton we were poor in the first half but slightly better in the second. St. Mirren had some great chances to open the scoring in the first 20 minutes. Michael Higdon - who gave Ryan Harding and Allan McManus a tough time as they tried to cope with his strength and neat link up play - fired a good chance over the bar while in demand midfielder Andy Dorman curled a shot inches past the post. From my seat I thought this effort was destined for the back of Stewart's net and he really should have scored but Morton breathed a sigh of relief.

However, that relief didn't last long as Dorman bundled the ball home from a yard out after some calamitous defending from Morton in the 24th minute. A Steven Robb cross from the right was flicked on by Higdon and landed at the feet of McManus in the six yard box. The experienced defender took an age to adjust his feet to clear the ball and Dorman nipped in to push the ball against Stewart and over the line. The Scottish Sun has since claimed this was a McManus own goal but it definitely wasn't. The English-born Welshman took great delight in his goal after the away support had questioned his sexuality in song every time he came over to take a corner at our end.

Our only real chance in the first half, if you could even call it a chance, came when Kevin Finlayson's cross deceived former Scotland goalkeeper Paul Gallacher and looped over him only to crash off the cross bar and back out into play. It would've been a very lucky goal and one we didn't deserve on the balance of play.

At half time Irons replaced Alex Walker and the ineffectual Russell with McAlister and Monti and this seemed to inject some life into the Ton. McAlister looked particularly hungry and it was no surprise when his pass set up Morton's equaliser minutes into the second period. Jimbo linked up with Brian Wake on the edge of the box and then fed an excellent slide rule pass into the path of Allan Jenkins - who had timed his burst from midfield to perfection. Jenkins side footed the ball past Gallacher and into his bottom right hand corner to make it 1-1.

Stevie Masterton thought he'd given his team the lead when he curled a terrific left footed shot into the top corner but it was ruled out for offside. And correctly so according to Craig Stewart who would've been in better position to judge as he was sitting in the press box covering the game for the Greenock Telegraph.

Unfortunately the hope that we could go on and win the game was quickly extinguished when Stephen O'Donnell scored what turned out to be the winning goal in the 67th minute. Jack Ross was given too much space out on the right and this gave him the time to measure his cross and pick out a team mate with ease the header was glanced on and smashed in off the far post. There was confusion as to who had scored the goal. So much so that the guy on the tannoy asked the player who scored to raise his hand, when no one did so he gave the goal to Dorman. It has since emerged that O'Donnell got the crucial touch and that he is convinced the goal was his, he told the Sun's Ewing Grahame: "It is definitely my goal. I got a good, solid touch on the cross and I was gutted when I turned round and saw Andy celebrating as though he'd scored. I had a word with him and let him know there's no doubt it was mine."

Jenkins passed up a great chance to equalise in the 77th minute. In a move very reminiscent of his goal Jenkins was put through on goal but this time his low shot was touched onto the post by the outstretched foot of Gallacher. If you're Paul Gallacher it's a great save but it was a disappointing miss from a Morton perspective as Jenkins should've really scored without giving the fomer Dundee United man a chance to save it.

Irons threw on Brian Graham, James Grady and Peter Weatherson late on but it wasn't to be and St. Mirren ran out deserved winners and lifted the Renfrewshire Cup while Morton fans got soaked trying to get home in torrential rain.

Morton (4-5-1):

Stewart- 7
2. MacGregor - 6 (14. McGuffie - 79 mins)
3. Walker - 6 (16. Monti - 46 mins - 7)
4. McManus - 6
5. Harding - 5
6. Masterton - 6 (17. Graham - 73 mins)
7. Finlayson - 6 (16. Grady - 83 mins)
8. Paartalu - 5
9. Wake - 7 (12. Weatherson - 73 mins)
10. Jenkins - 7
11. Russell - 5 (15. McAlister - 46 mins - 7)

Unused Subs:

20. Trialist [Sean Milligan]

MacGregor Harding McManus Walker
Finlayson Masterton Paartalu Jenkins Russell

St. Mirren: Gallacher, Ross, Camara, McGinn, Potter (trialist), Mair, Dorman (Brighton), Thomson (Brady), Wyness (Dargo), Higdon (Mehmet), Robb (O'Donnell).

My man of the match: Michael Higdon (St. Mirren)

Sponsor's man of the match: n/a

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Match Ticket
(Click to enlarge)

Greenock Telegraph - match report

saintmirren.premiumtv.co.uk - match report

saintmirren.premiumtv.co.uk - match reaction

The Scottish Sun - match report

moneton!!!'s pictures

Tontastic pictures


We're Cursed

Morton have been drawn away from home in the cup once again - and it doesn't come much more 'away' than against Ross County at Victoria Park.

This makes it 3 away ties in 3 cup game so far this season. Hopefully it won't be as bad as last season when we were drawn away from home 6 times in 7 matches; one of which was away to Ross County in the Challenge Cup (pictured). We lost that one 4-1 in what could be described as our lowest point in the whole of the 2008/09 season.

The draw for the 2nd round of the Alba Challenge Cup was made at Hampden earlier today. The tie will be played on either Tuesday 18th or Wednesday 19th of August.

The full draw was:

Dunfermline Athletic v Queen of the South
Ross County v Morton
Stirling Albion v Stenhousemuir
Annan Athletic v East Stirlingshire
Forfar Athletic v Partick Thistle
Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Stranraer
Elgin City v Albion Rovers
Cowdenbeath v Dunde

scottishfootballleague.com - The Alba Challenge Cup 2009 - 10

Why Colin Stewart Was Unavailable

Now we know why Colin Stewart was described as unavailable for Sunday's Challenge Cup tie against Dumbarton - his wife Julie was about to have a child.

Colin's and Julie's daughter, Ella Katie Stewart, was born on Monday morning and Mother and child are fine.

Congratulations to the Stewarts!

gmfc.net - Congratulations! (27.07.2009)


Dumbarton 0 - 1 Morton

Dumbarton 0 -
Morton 1 - Jenkins (25)

Att: 1122

Unusually Morton began the 2009/10 season on a Sunday after Dumbarton made the mistake of renting out their Strathclyde Homes Stadium for a wedding before the fixtures had been announced. However, the day made no difference to Morton as we secured a comfortable 1-0 in the Alba Challenge Cup 1st round.

Davie Irons went with a 4-3-3 formation with Jim McAlister and Kevin Finlayson flanking Peter Weatherson up front. Stevie Masterton, Allan Jenkins and Neil MacFarlane made up the midfield, although MacFarlane sat a little deeper. Alex Walker replaced the suspended Allan McManus in the same back four who has started all the pre-season matches so far. Bryn Halliwell was the surprise addition in goal after Kevin Cuthbert was ruled out through injury and Colin Stewart was described as unavailable.

This was Dumbarton's first game after the tragic death of club captain Gordon 'Guido' Lennon and to honour his memory there was a minutes applause before the match while the Dumbarton players wore black armbands and Dumbarton manager Jim Chapman used his programme notes to pay tribute to a player who he described as 'My friend, My Captain and My Champion'.

On the day Dumbarton looked like a club lacking leadership and a bit out of sorts but I suppose this was to be expected in their first game back. Morton took advantage of this and controlled the game from start to finish to such an extent that Halliwell - who is rumoured to have signed on at the club for month - didn't have one save of note to make.

Morton were on the front foot from the start and Jim McAlister looked eager to impress on the left of a front three. He was giving the Dumbarton right-back a tough time by running at his opponent at every opportunity. Jim also looked desperate to get a goal (maybe wanting Dan Petrescu to see his name on the score sheet) but as we have become accustomed to his shooting was wayward. However, it was Jim who created the opening, and what turned out to be the winning, goal. He received the ball tight to the touchline and scooped the ball over his opponent's head. After skipping round the player he'd just skinned he was faced with another Sons player who'd come over to cover. The ball was about 60-40 in defender's favour but Jim charged the ball down and was rewarded for his effort when the ball rebounded in his favour. He then clipped a cross to the back post with his left foot but this was only half cleared and fell right in front of Allan Jenkins who drilled a shot low past Dave McEwan in the Dumbarton goal.

Morton were tidy in possession and looked to pass the ball on the deck most of the time. Carlo Monti was particularly impressive in this respect. The diminutive midfielder has been filling in it left-back and up until this game has come under fierce criticism for his performances, particularly his positional play. However, in this match he was up against inferior opposition and this allowed him to get forward and take his time in possession, pick passes and link up with McAlister in front of him. He also showed a turn of pace to get back and make a couple of crucial interceptions later on in the match. For me Monti was man of the match but I still think that he will be exposed if he plays at left-back against 1st division oppposition.

Our first half performance was much better than the second as we seemed to come out after half time content with our 1-0 lead; maybe we realised the match was won. In the second period Jim squandered another chance or two and Peter Weatherson's hooked shot didn't trouble McEwan much. We seemed a bit more lively after the two Brians, Wake and Graham, were subbed on in the 80th minute. Both players manufactured chances for themselves but were let down by poor finishes - Wake's shot was weak and Graham failed to hit the target.

In the end the failure to add to the lead didn't matter as Jenkins' goal was enough to see us into the 2nd round but our lack of cutting edge and an ability to be ruthless in front of goal may be more exposed when we come up against a better standard of opposition in the 1st division. I think this could be remedied by the addition of a pacey striker who could play alongside Peter Weatherson. Unfortunately, this type of player seems to be thin on the ground and even if someone who fitted the bill was to become available it would appear that we the money isn't there to make the signing anyway.

Morton (4-3-3):

1. Halliwell - 6
2. McGuffie - 7
3. Monti - 8
4. Walker - 7
5. Greacen - 8
6. Masterton - 6 (12. Wake - 80 mins)
7. Finlayson - 6
8. MacFarlane - 8
9. Weatherson - 6 (16. Graham - 80 mins)
10. Jenkins - 7 (15. Paartalu - 68 mins)
11. McAlister - 8

Unused Subs:

14. Harding
20. McWilliams

Booked: Greacen, Masterton, MacFarlane

McGuffie Greacen McManus Monti
Masterton MacFarlane Jenkins
Finlayson Weatherson McAlister

Dumbarton: McEwan, Chisholm, Dunlop, Gordon, McKillen, Geggan, Clark (Chaplain 75), McStay (O'Donoghue 63), Murray, McLaughlin, Carcary (Hunter 75).

My man of the match: Carlo Monti

Sponsor's man of the match: n/a

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Greenock Telegraph - match report

dumbartonfootballclub.com - match report

The Scottish Sun - match report

The Daily Record - match report

The Lennox Herald - match report

Tontastic Pics


Dumbarton v Morton Preview

Morton face Dumbarton at the Strathclyde Homes Stadium in the 1st round of Alba Challenge Cup later today. This respresents the first competitive fixture of the 2009/10 season and is unusual in that it will be played on a Sunday because the Sons' stadium was rented out for a wedding before the fixtures were announced.

Funds have been especially tight this summer and, as a result, defensive midfielder Neil MacFarlane has been our only signing and the Dunoon man is set to make his debut. It will be interesting to see if this will be part of a midfield four or five. Last season Davie Irons favoured a 3-5-2 - but 4-4-2 has been his formation of choice this summer. It will be interesting to see which one he favours tomorrow but the personnel available suggests that it will probably be a 4-4-2.

Dominic Shimmin and Ryan Harding both miss out due to injury while Allan McManus is suspended because of his sending off at Ross County last season. Despite rumours that Kevin Cuthbert might not play due to injury - the reason American trialist Sean Milligan played against Unirea - the Greenock Telegraph's Andrew Forrester suggests that he will start. It has been an eventful week for Jim McAlister and although he is set to be involved at the Rock it may well be his last game for the Ton if Dan Petrescu can convince his chairman that he is worth signing.

The game is Dumbarton's first since the tragic death of club captain Gordon Lennon and the second division club have announced that there will be a minutes applause before kick-off. They include lastest signing Denis McLaughlin who is on a one month loan from Hearts.

Admisson Prices

Adults - £10
Concessions - £5

Recent Meetings

18.07.2008 - Pre-Season Friendly
Dumbarton 0 - 1 Morton

15.08.2006 - Challenge Cup 1st Round
Dumbarton 1 - 2 Morton (aet)

Possible line up

McGuffie Greacen MacGregor Monti
Jenkins Masterton MacFarlane McAlister
Weatherson Wake

Betting (high street prices)

Morton are best priced at 11/10 with and .
Dumbarton are 2/1 with and .
The Draw is 5/2 with , and .

My Predicition

Dumbarton 0 - 2 Morton
8/1 with , and

dumbartonfootballclub.com - Competitive Action Begins (25.07.2009)

scottishfootballleague.com - Alba Challenge Cup Previews (25.07.2009)

oddschecker.com - Dumbarton v Morton


Trialist Goalkeeper Unmasked

The trialist goalkeeper who played for Morton against Unirea Uriziceni has been named as Sean Milligan - an American who, according to the WMUR New Hampshire website, is on a six month trial at Cappielow. However, the player has described his situation as an 'indefinite trial'.

The goalkeeper's identity was discovered by greenockmorton.org poster ccc who posted a link to an article on the The Dartmouth website (see links at the bottom of the page).

Milligan's most recent club was Dartmouth Big Greens. Dartmouth are the football (soccer) team from the wider department of Dartmouth Varsity Athletics at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire in the USA. The Big Greens currently compete in, and are champions of, the Ivy championship.

In an interview with The Dartmouth Milligan (pictured, above left: before the Unirea game and below: in his Dartmouth profile pic) explained that we was surprised and nervous when he was informed he was going to start against Unirea: “It was actually really unexpected. I had only had two training sessions, but the guy who is looking after me over here told me the day before the game that the manager called and said that their regular starter had been injured during the previous match, and that they wanted to give me an opportunity.

“It was just a great experience. The best advice I got before the game was to just make sure that I enjoyed it — and I definitely did. Once you get your first touch or make your save you just grow with confidence and realize that you aren’t in over your head."

Milligan was also surprised by the Morton support, he said: “The fans here are a bit more critical to say the least, and aren’t afraid to tell you what they think. At the same time, they create an incredible atmosphere so it was great to play in front of them.”

In the Unirea match Milligan made an excellent save and was unlucky in his attempt to save Sorin Paraschiv's shot for the third goal but he was also fortunate that his fresh air swipe with his left foot didn't result in another goal for the Romanians.

The Dartmouth - Milligan '09 Sees First Professional Start On Scottish Club Team (24.07.2009)

WMUR New Hampshire - Dartmouth's Milligan Gets International Start

Sean Milligan - Dartmouth Big Greens profile


Malky Thomson To Head New Youth Academy

Morton are set to appoint former Inverness Caledonian Thistle assistant manager Malky Thomson as head of the new youth academy according to Russell Steele in today's Greenock Telegraph.

Thomson - who is currently taking his UEFA Pro Licence -told the Tele' that the deal was all but comfirmed: "It's all but agreed I will be coming in to run the Academy and I'm looking forward to it."

Thomson's most recent employment was as Craig Brewster's assistant manager at ICT (pictured, above left: with Brewster at the Caledonian Stadium). He also assisted Brewster at Dundee United and held the same position in his time at Chester City with Bobby Williamson. In addition to this, Thomson also has extensive experience working with youth players having been a youth coach at both Celtic and Rangers in the past.

Malky Thomson
  • Full Name: Malcolm Thomson
  • Age: 40 (29.12.1968)
  • Born: Elderslie, Scotland
  • Nationality: Scottish
  • Former Clubs (player): Aberdeen
  • Former Clubs (non player): Celtic (youth coach),Rangers (youth coach), Chester City (assisitant manager), Dundee United (assistant manager), ICT (assistant manager)

According to the man behind the Youth Academy, Morton director Stuart Duncan, Thomson's appointment will be made official when the Academy is established as a charitable organisation.

Greenock Telegraph - Morton Land Top Youth Coach (23.07.2009)

Jim Turns Out For Unirea

In the story linking Jim McAlister with a move to Unirea Urziceni the Scottish Sun also revealed that the Romanians were trying to arrange it so that he could feature in a bounce match against Plymouth Argyle - well they did, and he played according to greenockmorton.org poster steveoath, who went to the match (Jim is pictured, left: pulling up his socks in a Unirea strip*).

In his post on the greenockmorton.org messageboard Steve said: "Just back from the game. Jim got about 25/30 minutes. He was played as a winger (part of a front three). He started on the left and switched to the right later on. He didn't really get a chance to impose himself - only had a few touches but managed a difficult shot that flew past the post."

He also added that Morton chairman Douglas Rae and his son Crawford were both present and sat in the wee stand.

*Photo courtesy of Steve McClintock.

Unirea Urziceni v Plymouth Argyle - steveoath's pictures


Unirea Want Jim McAlister

Morton's recent friendly opponents Unirea Urziceni were so impressed by Jim McAlister in Monday night's match that they are now trying to sign him.

According to today's Scottish Sun the Unirea manager, Dan Petrescu, approached Jim - who set up our only goal in the match when he went on a mazy run down the left and cut back for Stevie Masterton to drill home - in the the Morton dressing room right after the match to tell him he wanted to sign him.

Petrescu told The Sun's Gareth Law about his interest in the Ton winger: "I'm very interested in the player and he's exactly what I need in my midfield.

"I've spoken to the Morton chairman about him and now I'm waiting to see if we can start official talks for the transfer.

"We must also wait to hear if the player wants to come over to Romania to play in the Champions League."

The article goes onto say that Petrescu is trying to arrange it so that McAlister can play in a bounce match versus Plymouth Argyle in Glasgow tonight.

The Scottish Sun - Cappielow: Gateway To Europe (22.07.2009)

Greenock Telegraph - Dan Is Keen On Jim (22.07.2009)

Morton 1 - 3 Unirea Urziceni

Morton 1 - Masterton (60)
Unirea Urziceni 3 - Todoran (15), Dănălache (36), Paraschiv (88)

Att: 1059

It's not often Morton come up against teams who are national champions and who have the earned the right to compete in the Champions League so this was a good opportunity to see a better calibre of player than we're used to at Cappielow. That proved to be the case, and although Unirea never really went through the gears, they had more than enough to come away with a pretty comfortable victory.

In the three pre-season matches played so far Davie Irons has started with a 4-4-2 but he went with a more cautious approach and decided to line up with a 5 man midfield and Peter Weatherson up front on his own in this one. You can understand Irons' decision as we were up against superior opposition who would, most likely, control the game by retaining possession in midfield. Therefore it makes sense for Morton, as the weaker team, to try and combat this threat with superior numbers.

Morton were very cagey in the first half; we had the look of a team who were worried about the damage the opposition could do. We tried to get a foothold in the game by sitting tight and letting the Romanians come onto us and try and pass through our five man midfield. This worked to an extent but to the complete detriment of any attacking play of our own. In the end the effectiveness of any gameplan was rendered obsolete when we gave away a couple of howlers in the 15th and 36th minutes.

The first came when Carlo Monti only succeeded in clearing a left wing centre right onto the head of an onrushing Unirea midfielder. The ball fell right to the feet of Dinu Todoran who tucked the ball home with ease from just outside the six yard box.

The second was even worse. Morton had numerous opportunities to clear a cross from the left but they failed to do so and Cristian Dănălache eventually managed to emerge from the scramble and knock the ball over the line while appearing to be lying down.

As aforementioned Morton weren't much of an attacking force in the first half. In fact, our first shot on target came from Allan Jenkins and arrived around about the 40th minute. Jenkins' volley was comfortably saved by Grigore. However, it was very disappointing to hear the shot greeted with the same ironic cheers that I also heard on the webcast when Colin Stewart caught the ball in the match against Crawley Town. Jenkins didn't take the criticism well and gestured to the crowd. You can understand both the player's frustration and that of the fans but I think some supporters have to take a look at themselves. We were playing a Champions League team and the players were obviously under strict instructions to limit their attacking in an attempt to contain the opposition. How would you feel if you were out on the pitch, playing against a far superior opposition and after attempting to score a goal you were made a fool of by your own supporters - not very good I'd imagine.

Whatever Irons said at half-time really got the players going and they came out for the second half and played as if they had nothing to lose. Stevie Masterton played particularly well in the second half and it was he who halved the deficit on the hour. Jim McAlister was also very impressive - it has since emerged that Dan Petrescu thought so too - and it was after his trademark jinking run down the left and cut back that Masterton drilled under sub goalkeeper Tudor from the edge of the box. McAlister has often been accused of lacking composure when it comes to his final ball, be it a shot or a cross and there is a lot of truth in that. But on this occasion he was the epitome of cool as just as he looked as if he was about to swing out at the ball he fooled everyone by picking out Masterton who was unmarked on the edge of the box. If Jimbo had showed this kind of vision on a regular basis he probably wouldn't be at Cappielow now.

Masterton has a few more long range efforts that Tudor did well to parry before the Romanians finished off any hope of a comeback in the 88th minute. Central midfielder Sorin Paraschiv's side footed effort appeared to be saved on the line by the American trialist goalkeeper but the linesman ran back to the halfway line confirming that it was a goal. I have since talked to a pal who was sat in the main stand and he confirmed the ball was well over the line. In any case it was an excellent attempt at a save from the trialist goalie. Incidentally, there was another trialist goalkeeper from the Czech Republic in the squad but he didn't get any action and Irons has said since that there will be no further interest there.

Overall this was a decent workout for Morton but you get the feeling that Unirea could have stepped it up a level at anytime they wanted. Something that is also put into perspective by the fact that they had already walked a mile to the ground after their bus crashed in Port Glasgow. It will be interesting to follow Unirea's progress in the Champions League in the coming season especially if McAlister signs and links up with their latest signing Edgar Davids.

Morton (4-5-1):

1. Trialist - 6
2. McGuffie - 7
3. Monti - 5
4. McManus - 6
5. Greacen - 7
6. Masterton - 7
7. Finlayson - 5 (15. Russell - 71 mins)
8. MacFarlane - 5 (16. Wake - 73 mins)
9. Weatherson - 7 (12. Graham - 73 mins)
10. Jenkins - 6 (16. MacGregor - 74 mins)
11. McAlister - 8

Unused Subs:

15. Grady
20. Trialist

McGuffie Greacen McManus Monti
Finlayson Masterton MacFarlane Jenkins McAlister

Unirea Urziceni (4-4-2): 77. Grigore (74. Tudor, 46); 25. Pădureţu (21. Unknown, 46), 16. Nicu, 4. Mehmedovic, 23. Bordeanu; 5. Todoran (32. Apostol, 61), 8. Paraschiv, 10. Marinescu, 30. Frunză; 28. Stan (11.Onofraş, 59), 15. Dănălache

Pădureţu Nicu Mehmedovic Bordeanu
Todoran Paraschiv Marinescu Frunză
Stan Dănălache

My man of the match: Jim McAlister

Sponsor's man of the match: n/a

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)


Greenock Telegraph - match report (abbreviated)

fcunirea.ro - match report

Tontastic Pics