Dumbarton 0 - 1 Morton

Dumbarton 0 -
Morton 1
- Graham (74)

Att: 1495

Super sub: Brian Graham's late header broke Dumbarton's hearts and earned Morton a crack at SPL giants Celtic in the 4th round of the Active Nation Scottish Cup.

James Grady sprung a little suprise with his team selection - and a big surprise with his choice of substitutes. After several weeks with the exact same team, Grady decided to change things about by adopting a diamond in midfield: Erik Paartalu sat in front of the defence, Carlo Monti - who, in the only change to the starting XI from the original tie, took Ryan McGuffie's place in the side - and Kevin Finalyson were the wide players (but playing a little narrower than orthodox wide midfielders), while Jim McAlister sat at the apex, just behind the front two. The biggest surprise was Dominic Shimmin's inclusion on the substitutes bench after nine months out injured (pictured, below).

Morton went for the jugular right from the first whistle. Monti's deliveries from set pieces and his crosses from out on the left were causing particular problems for the Dumbarton defence. Peter Weatherson managed to get on the end of quite a few of them but couldn't quite direct any of his headers properly. The one he did manage to get on target came from a Kevin Finlayson cross, but Jan Vojacek managed to get across and block at the post.

A minute later Stewart Greacen came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock. Monti whipped in a dangerous inswinging corner and the Ton captain arrived right on time to bullet a header towards goal, unfortunately, the ball crashed off the crossbar and back into play.

As I watched Morton create chance after chance but fail to score, I kept thinking on Andy Gray going on and on about how a team must score when they're going through a period of domination as there will always come a point that the opposition get on top. As we continued to fail to make our dominance count the Sons came back into the game towards the end of the half. Luckily for us the home side didn't manage to convert their chances either.

Roddy Hunter almost capitalised on an Alan Reid slip on the half-way line but Davie MacGregor got back to make a magnificent interception. Then Colin Stewart scrambled to save a Ben Gordon header at the second attempt in the 38th minute, thus ensuring that the sides went in level at half-time. Morton should've been leading.

The second half began in a similar fashion to the first - Morton were on top but not going at it as gung-ho as the first 20 minutes of the match. We were trying to build from the back and pass our way forward.

I can't remember one punt up field from Stewart. If it was a goal kick he'd pass it to a defender, and if he had the ball in his arms he'd bowl it out to the full-backs. Encouragingly, the players would take the ball and look for another pass - along the ground. Grady's training is working a treat as the players actually looked like they knew what they were doing, they had a game plan and were sticking to it. They refused to buckle under the pressure of impatient fans who would shout at them to 'stop fucking about back there and get it forward' and who would then boo any inaccurate long ball. Furthermore, they refused to succumb to the temptation to take the safe option and smash the ball forward in tight situations. Rather than resort to a long ball they would remain calm and pass their way to safety.

The big problem we have is that our passing moves seem to break down in the final third. We lack two things: a creative attacking midfielder who can unlock a tight defence with a key pass or a moment of genius, and a pacey striker who can get in behind a defence and get on the end of these visionary passes. The good news is that the Ton boss has acknowledged the need for these types of player (especially a striker) and is actively looking to make additions to address these problems. If Grady has the budget, and can find players who fit the bill, then I can see us climbing the table quite quickly.

22-year-old striker might have something to say about the need for a new striker as it was his goal that won the match and earned his club a crack at Celtic in the next round. David van Zanten and Finalyson combined down the right before van Zanten used the front of his right boot to drill a cross into the centre where Graham leaped and expertly angled a header beyond Vojacek's despairing dive. The goal arrived in the 74th minute - just three minutes after Graham had repleaced the ineffctual Brian Wake.

The match seemed over when Scott Chaplain was sent-off for a second bookable offence minutes after the goal. However, we still had to survive a couple of late scares - including one incident in which the Dumbarton goalkeeper came up for a corner and caused a bit of confusion in the Morton defence - before we could begin looking forward to the next round.

Referee Steven McLean's final whistle ended what seemed to be an eternity of injury-time. The roar that greeted the whistle was as much about relief as it was about joy. Bring on the Celtic!

Photographs courtesy of Tontastic.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Stewart - 8
2. Van Zanten - 8
3. MacGregor - 7
4. Reid - 7
5. Greacen - 7
6. Paartalu - 6
7. Finlayson - 6
8. Monti - 8
9. Wake - 6 (12. Graham - 71 mins)
10. Weatherson - 7
11. McAlister - 7

Unused Subs:

14. McGuffie
15. Shimmin
16. Gordon
20. McWilliams

Booked: Graham, Paartalu

van Zanten Greacen MacGregor Reid
Finlayson Monti
Wake Weatherson

Dumbarton: Vojacek, O'Donoghue, Dunlop, Gordon (McNiff 46), Smith, Chisholm, McStay (Clark - 79), Chaplain, Murray (Carcary - 56), Hunter, Geggan.

Subs Not Used: Craig, White

Booked: Dunlop, Chaplain.

Sent Off: Chaplain (76)

My man of the match: Carlo Monti

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Greenock Telegraph - Match Report

Greenock Telegraph - Match Reaction

The Daily Record - Match Report

dumbartonfootballclub.com - Match Report

bbc sport - Match Report

tontastic pictures

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