Morton 0 - 2 Dunfermline Athletic

Morton 0 -
Dunfermline 2 - Kirk (19), Cardle (79)

Att: 2661

A Morton side lacking ideas in the final third were given a lesson in finishing by a decent Dunfermline team I think could run Dundee close this season.

In his programme notes Douglas Rae indirectly criticised Davie Irons for his decision to play with one up front against Dundee; suggesting that Peter Weatherson "played the [first] half virtually on his own." It's probably just coincidence but the manager decided to give Peter a partner and went with two up front. However, it was a surprise to see James Grady come into the fold as he seemed to be out of the first team picture. Another strange decision was the way we set out. The four at the back was fine but the midfield four was hard to decipher - MacFarlane sat behind, McAlister played centrally, Carlo Monti was on the left while Stevie Masterton seemed to play one in from the right with no one outside him. The other big surprise was the debut of young goalkeeper Ryan McWilliams who was flung in at the last minute after Bryn Halliwell injured his back in the pre-match warm up.

Throughout this match Morton were tidy in the way they passed the ball around the defence and then when moving the ball onto Neil MacFarlane or Stevie Masterton when they dropped off to receive possession (this is a problem in itself as Masterton's natural inclincation is to drop off for the ball but in doing this he is really treading on MacFralane's toes and at the same time leaving one less option going forward) however, whenever we attempted to go beyond this we ran out of ideas. We couldn't find a way through the Pars midfield and defence as they unsettled us by quickly pressing the Morton player in possession all over the pitch meaning lots of mistakes and backwards passes. We really lack creativity in the final third as well as a real cutting edge up when we do manage to create anything.

Unfortunately Dunfermline do have a cutting edge, particularly in the form of Andy Kirk who confirmed my preview prediction that he would score when he headed past the stranded McWilliams in the 19th minute. Calum Woods and Willie Gibson combined well down the right and Kirk was alone in the six yard box to nod Woods into the net. The marking was terrible as was the attempts to defend out on the left. We had chances after this but there's a just a feeling around the team at the moment that if we go a goal down it's a long way back. I just felt we were beat as soon as Kirk scored.

As I said, we did have our chances in the second half but we failed to convert on four occasions. Early on Weatherson's crisp volley was well saved by Greg Fleming in the Pars goal. Brian Graham - who impressed after coming on as a substitute - also passed up three chances, two of which he probably should've scored. The first he lobbed over the onrushing Fleming only to see his shot land in the roof of the net. He should've definitely scored the second opportunity but he somehow managed to screw his shot past the post after McAlister's cut back left him with the goal at his mercy. His final chance was very unlucky. Graham jumped with the keeper and got there first but his header looped up then bounced on the grass and dropped onto the cross bar and agonisingly behind for a goal kick. It just wasn't going to be our day.

Joe Cardle - a right footed winger who can play on either side, and who tormented us playing for Airdrie last season - wrapped the match up in the 79th minute. The pacey wide man ran at Ryan McGuffie down the Morton right before jinking inside onto his stronger foot, running on unopposed and curling a wicked effort into the top corner via the cross bar. One of those goals that even draws applause from the opposition fans but will have a manager tearing his hair out at the ineptitude of the defending. I feel sorry for McGuffie as he was exposed down the right and isn't a natural defender but I was reading an article the other day in which an ex-pro was saying that you should always show a wide man down the line on his weaker foot rather than let him inside but Ryan failed to do that. Then after he'd got away from the right-back no one else came to meet him; no centre-back or midfielder, which gave him enough time to pick his spot and finish the game off.

At the end of the day Dunfermline were good value for their win and it really could've been more had the referee shown a bit more balls and not given fouls on McWilliams when the nervy Ton debutant simply appeared to flap at a couple of high balls rather than actually get fouled. The lack of cutting edge and creativity in the final third are real worries for the Ton faithful at the moment and the only solution I can see is a couple of new signings. The only other alternative is to soldier on with what we've got and have a pretty poor season - it looks like it's going to be a long season and I can guarantee Douglas Rae people will not be bringing a friend, they'll have a hard enough time convincing themslves to go unfortunately.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. McWilliams - 5
2. McGuffie - 6 (14. Wake - 85 mins)
3. MacGregor - 6
4. McManus - 7
5. Greacen - 6
6. Masterton - 5
7. Monti - 5 (15. Jenkins - 65 mins)
8. MacFarlane - 6
9. Weatherson - 6
10. Grady - 6 (12. Graham - 65 mins - 7)
11. McAlister - 6

Unused Subs:

16. Russell
20. Halliwell

Booked: Greacen

McGuffie Greacen McManus MacGregor
Masterton McAlister Monti
Weatherson Grady

Dunfermline: Fleming, Woods, McGregor, Higgins, McCann, Bell, Gibson (Cardle 59), Burke, David Graham (McDougall 65), Bayne, Kirk (Phinn 77).

Subs Not Used: Dowie, Paterson.

Booked: Higgins.

My man of the match: Brian Graham

Sponsor's man of the match: Wasn't Announced

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Greenock Telegraph - match report

Greenock Telegraph - match reaction

dafc.co.uk - match report

dafc.co.uk - match reaction (Jim McIntyre)

dafc.co.uk - match reaction (Joe Cardle)

bbc - match report

The Scottish Sun - match report

1 comment:

mortonjag said...

I left five minutes early.That's something I NEVER did in my almost fifty years of watching the Ton.

I despair of Irons and his 'tactics', and I despair of his little feuds with players TO THE DETRIMENT OF OUR SUCCESS.

I had at least hoped for a boring draw, but despite the Manager's predictable excuses, the truth is that the Pars never looked like losing after Kirk's goal.

A win tonight at Dingwall will restore his credibility with the optimists. Perhaps in the longer view, a defeat would be best for our club.