Dundee 3 - 1 Morton

Dundee 3 - Griffiths (54), Harkins (65), Malone (87)
Morton 1
- Weatherson (60)

Att: 4259

Top o' the league, and we're naw: a Dundee side inspired by star players Leigh Griffiths and Gary Harkins proved to too hot for the Ton as they ran out comfortable 3-1 winners at a snow covered Dens Park today.

Allan McManus said that Morton would go back to the drawing board after last week's defeat at home to Queen Of The South. There were changes, in terms of personnel and formation, but nothing drastic. However, I think that might be more to do with the limitations of the current squad rather than Grady's mindset. We went back to more of a flat four in midfield: Carlo Monti and Erik Paartalu were central with Kevin Finalyson and Jim McAlister back in their more familiar position close to the touchline. Iain Russell - who recently returned from a loan spell at Alloa - replaced McAlister up front, while Alan Reid - back after suspension - replaced Davie MacGregor at left-back. MacGregor and Ryan McGuffie found themselves in the unfortunate position of bench warmers on a freezing cold day.

Russell almost made an immediate impact when he beat the Dundee offside trap to get on the end of Monti's ball over the top, but the former Brechin man only succeeded in sidefooting his volley over the bar.

Three minutes later Dundee goalkeeper Rab Douglas managed to push a powerful Peter Weatherson free-kick round the post. Paartalu got on the end of the resultant corner, but his front post header was caught by Douglas.

Colin Stewart was also on form at the other end. First he made a great save to deny Gary Harkins in the 26th minute. The Greenock-born midfielder let fly from 25-yards, but the Ton number 1 was equal to the effort and managed to get two strong hands behind his save. The first save was all about good solid goalkeeping, his next was all about instinct, agility and reflexes. A corner from the right was headed towards goal by Leigh Griffiths, but Stewart could only parry to the feet of Craig Forsyth, who was about six yards out. I'd already written it off as a certain goal, but Stewart somehow managed to arch back and make a superb block on the line. Monti was also alive to the danger and got back to clear the ball off the line.

As usual, we started brightly before fading as our opponents came into the game. We managed to play some decent football and create a couple of good chances early on, but Dundee appeared to settle down towards the end of the half. The home side were in the ascendancy, yet I still felt there was cause for optimism as we'd done enough to contain the league leaders away from home to go in level at half-time.

Unfortunately, Dundee needed only 14 second half minutes to crush my positive attitude. Craig Forsyth whipped a diagonal cross in behind the Morton defence from out on the left. Dominic Shimmin and Alan Reid both appeared to think the other man should've been picking up Griffiths - the talented striker took advantage of the confusion by nipping in behind them to head past Stewart with ease.

At this point I thought it was game over. So you can imagine my astonishment when we levelled in the 60th minute. Finlayson picked the ball up on the right and delivered an inch perfect cross to the front past where Weatherson had done enough to get in front of his marker to head past Douglas to make it 1-1. Peter's heading techniqiue is superb at times - and this was one of those times. In one motion he managed to lean back and twist his body in such a way that it allowed him to guide the ball away from Douglas and into the top corner. This was the Geordie's 9th goal of the season. Last season he managed 10 goals all season, while the total was 11 the season before. Keep it up Peter!

Just as the equaliser revitalised my once-crushed spirits Harkins decided to crush them again. Dundee caught Morton out with a swift counter attack in which Richie Hart raced away down the left. The former Caley Thistle midfielder managed to out sprint the chasing Paartalu to get to the by line before cutting back to the edge of the box where the in-rushing Harkins arrived right on time to side-footed past Stewart with ease.

We didn't take this lying down and, although Dundee were starting to take control, we did manage to create some chances. In the 76th minute Douglas did well to parry a stinging Paartalu volley, the rebound eventually found its way to Weatherson who hooked over from six yards. To be fair to Peter the ball came to him at a difficult height and he did have a defender right behind him putting him under pressure. But it was a decent chance nonetheless.

In the 82nd minute Jim McAlister manufactured a chance for himself when he flicked the ball between two Dundee players on the edge of the box. He ran round them and curled a speculative shot towards the top corner. The view provided by our seat in the main stand wasn't great, but from where we were sitting it seemed as if the shot was inches from nestling in the Dundee net.

Dundee settled the match in the 87th minute. A Harkins corner from the left appeared to be harmlessly drifting beyond everyone and out for a throw in before Shimmin inexplicably side footed the ball out for another corner. You can only imagine that the Dominic didn't get a shout from any of his team mates. In saying that, you could also argue that he should've been more aware of his surroundings. Either way Dundee capitalised on the mistake when Eddie Malone headered home Forsyth's corner from the opposite side. The former St. Mirren defender rose unchallenged to head home just yards from goal. Stewart was posted missing and took the blame for the goal in the press the next day.

James Grady criticised his side for being defensively naive and stated that there was only so many times you can explain to the players what he wants them to do before he has to concede that they just aren't good enough. He told the Tele's Roger Graham that he'll be looking to strengthen in the January transfer window: "We need to get better quality in and we need players with a better mental strength."

Under Grady our performances have improved, but the results haven't. A couple of additions are essential. We only have to look to the difference guys like Gary Harkins and Leigh Griffiths can make to an otherwise average squad of players. Hopefully Douglas Rae can see this and agrees. The alternative is to concede money is tight, stick with what we've got and risk relegation to the second division.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Stewart - 7
2. Van Zanten - 6
3. Reid - 5
4. Shimmin - 6
5. Greacen - 5
6. Paartalu - 7
7. Finlayson - 6
8. Monti - 7
9. Weatherson - 7
10. Russell - 5 (16. Kane - 71 mins)
11. McAlister - 6

Unused Subs:

12. Wake
14. McGuffie
15. MacGregor
20. McWilliams

Booked: Monti

van Zanten Greacen Shimmin Reid
Finlayson Paartalu Monti McAlister
Weatherson Russell

Dundee: Douglas, Paton, Malone, Kerr, MacKenzie, Lauchlan, Forsyth, Hart, Griffiths (Clarke - 81), McMenamin, Harkins (Klimpl - 82).

Subs Not Used: Benedictus, Cameron, Soutar.

Booked: Hart, Malone.

My man of the match: Gary Harkins (Dundee)

Sponsor's man of the match: Gary Harkins (Dundee)

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Match Ticket

Greenock Telegraph - Match Report

Greenock Telegraph - Match Reaction

The Scottish Sun - Match Report

dundeefc.co.uk - Match Report

bbc sport - Match Report

1 comment:

mortonjag said...

Rae has already suggested he won't be spending money in January. Despite that I'm quite upbeat about finishing at least mid table. Big Pantaloons deserves huge credit for his midfield efforts over the past few weeks but we're sadly missing Jenkins and McFarlane, and Finners and Jimbo have had to spend more time tracking back.

I STILL believe we could finish fourth!