Morton 1 - 0 Airdrie United

Morton 1 - Graham (79)
Airdrie United 0 -

Att: 2104

The stage was set for a brand new dawn and although the performance wasn't much of an improvement on anything we'd seen under the previous regime the most important thing was that we managed to win.

James Grady made a couple of suprising selections on his managerial debut. Erik Paartalu was recalled to the starting XI while Kevin Finlayson took up a fairly unfamiliar role at right-back. Allan Jenkins replaced Finners at right-midfield. Grady obviously wanted to try and make us hard to score against, and therefore hard to beat, and set about this by going with a 4-4-2. In a very Brazilian move - possibly made more out of necessity rather than design as Ryan McGuffie was ruled out due to flu - he decided to start with two sitting midfielders (Paartalu and MacFarlane) in the middle with more attack minded players (Jenkins and Jim McAlister) out wide.

As it turned out Grady's plan to make us hard to beat worked - but at the expense of the expansive passing game he and McManus had talked about in press reports in the lead up to the game. I have to be honest and say that for about on hour of the game there wasn't much, if any, improvement on what we'd seen under Irons. We were stuffy, deviod of ideas and lacking pace in the final third. However, the first shoots of recovery sprouted in the 59th minute when Grady decided to replace Paartalu with Carlo Monti. Monti moved to the left of midfield and this allowed McAlister to move to the right.

As a naturally right footed player who isn't particularly adept with his weaker foot Jim's game is greatly restricted out on the left. His natural inclination is to come inside onto his stronger foot and this means that not only he is running into a congested area but he is usually forced to take a shot as he doesn't have many other options and we all know this isn't Jim's forte. However, on the right he can keep the ball on the outside of his body which makes it easier to protect the ball as it limits the opportunity for his opponents to get at it. As a result he can run that little bit faster and more direct in an attempt to get to the bye line from where he can now cross with a degree of confidence on his stronger foot.

As soon as Jim was moved out there you could sense the new found freedom coursing through him as he took the ball on a couple of runs. He was getting the better of Paul Lovering who was booked for kicking out at him in frustration. His first couple of crosses weren't the best but it was from one of those runs that we eventually scored what turned out to be the winning goal. Jim knocked the ball inside to Finlayson whose slide rule return put McAlister in behind the full-back and after taking a touch to shake of the defender he cut the ball back. Airdrie goalkeeper Stephen Robertson only succeeded in pushing the ball out to Brian Graham who took what seemed an eternity to get control of the ball. Thankfully he managed to side step a defender before slotting the ball past the men on the line and into the back of the net.

The roof nearly came off the Cowshed such was the roar when the goal went in. The players also seemed to enjoy it, particularly the goalscorer who sprinted to the Cowshed one arm aloft the other raising the Morton badge to his mouth to kiss it. He was booked for his exuberant celebration but no one cared, least of all Graham.

The Morton team seemed to get a shock of adrenaline from the goal and as the confidence flooded back into the side you could see that they would hold onto the lead. More significantly you could also see that there are definitely signs that with the right manager - be that Grady or someone else - and a couple of smart additions on the playing side this squad could actually achieve something. Please give us the right manager Mr Rae.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Stewart - 7
2. Paartalu - 5 (14. Monti - 59 mins)
3. Walker - 6 (15. MacGregor - 80 mins)
4. McManus - 7
5. Greacen - 7
6. MacFarlane - 6
7. Finlayson - 6
8. Jenkins - 7
9. Graham - 7 (12.Masterton - 89 mins)
10. Weatherson - 6
11. McAlister - 7

Unused Subs:

16. Grady
20. McWilliams

Booked: Graham, MacGregor

Finlayson Greacen McManus Walker
Jenkins Paartalu MacFarlane McAlister
Graham Weatherson

Airdrie United: Robertson, McCann, Storey, McDonald, Donnelly (Lovering 46), Smyth, Smith (Watt 79), McLaughlin, Keegan, Lagana (O'Carroll 58), Bain.

Subs Not Used: Nixon, Hollis.

Booked: Lovering, Robertson.

My man of the match: Allan McManus

Sponsor's man of the match: Brian Graham

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Greenock Telegraph - Match Report

Greenock Telegraph - Match Reaction

The Scottish Sun - Match Report

The Daily Record - Match Report

airdrieunitedfc.com - Match Report

bbc sport - Match Report

tontastic pictures

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