Ross County 3 - 1 Morton

Ross County 0 - Wood (49), Brittain (67 pen), Scott (90)
Morton 1
- Paartalu (29)

Att: 1752

Two steps forward, one step back: a very poor second half performance saw Morton concede three preventable goals to throw away the one goal lead they held at half-time.

There was only one change to the team that beat Dumbarton in the cup on Saturday: James Grady decided that Brian Graham's headed winner in the cup match was enough to earn the young striker a start. Graham took Brian Wake's place in the team. Stevie Masterton was deemed fit enough to take a place on the bench.

One of the biggest surprises of the evening was the weather. This was a midweek match, in the Highlands, in the middle of December. But, believe it or not, the weather was pretty mild. It wasn't snowing, raining or even that cold. It was certainly suitable conditions for us to continue playing our passing football. We didn't quite continue were we left off in the Dumbarton game, as chances were few and far between, but we did look pretty solid.

Jim McAlister had a great chance to open the scoring in the 7th minute when he was played through on goal, but he was forced to a difficult angle and dragged his shot across goal and agonisingly wide of Michael McGovern's far post.

Peter Weatherson headed wide in the 18th minute. The striker managed to get ahead of his marker to meet a cross from the left but the Ross County defender managed to recover and give Peter enough of a nudge to put him off his header.

Our only other chance in the first half resulted in a goal - and what a goal it was. Brian Graham received the ball on the left hand corner of the box (as the Morton team looked at it) and managed to hold it up to allow support to arrive. He laid the ball off to Aussie midfielder Erik Paartalu, who let fly from 25 yards without breaking his stride. The ball arrowed straight into the McGovern's top left hand corner to spectacularly open the scoring.

The Staggies weren't up to much and only managed to create two chances of note in the first period. On the half hour Scott Morrison's inswinging cross from the right went inches past the post after it had evaded everyone, including Colin Stewart. Then, four minutes later, Paul Di Giacomo was played though one-on-one with Stewart but he could only hammer into the side netting.

The small Morton support - 40 or so 'hardy souls' - were delighted to go in 1-0 up at half-time. No one would've predicted what was about to happen in the second half, as almost everything that could go wrong did.

County manager Derek Adams beefed up his attacking options by sending on Garry Wood. The former Caley Thistle striker made an immediate impact by equalising four minutes into the second half. Garry Miller managed to get in behind the Morton defence and cut back for Wood to tap in with ease.

The next blow arrived when Ton boss James Grady was sent to the stand after an altercation with Craig Brewster. This was a very harsh decision considering Brewster stepped into our technical area and started pushing Grady to get the ball. Grady pushed him back and then Brewster grabbed the wee man by the throat. Brewster was quite rightly sent to the stand, but it was a bit of a farce that Grady was sent to join him. He didn't take it lying down, however, as he climbed into the stand and stood about two seats from the front. He was then asked to sit down by the head steward, which he did - for two seconds. As soon as the head steward turned around he stood up again, in the kind of way you can imagine Gerry doing when a steward tells him to sit down. Crawford Rae had to make his way down from the back of the stand to convince James to come away from the front before he was ejected from the stadium (pictured, below: Grady watches the game from his new seat). The Morton fans seemed to love his defiant behaviour and treated him to a chorus of ' There's only one James Grady' to show him they were right behind him.

Things went from bad to worse in the 67th minute as Richard Brittain stroked a penalty down the middle to give the home side the lead. The spot kick was given after Alan Reid was adjudged to have handled by referee John McKendrick. There were some howls of derision from the away support, but I think the referee got it right. Reid's arms were all over the place when he jumped in front of the shot. Instead of jumping to block with his arms at his side, or even in a more natural position, he basically did a star jump with his arms and legs stretched out. There was six of us sitting together and we all agreed it was a penalty.

It was effectively game over when Alan Reid was sent off in the 85th minute. He gave away possession to end a promising Morton attack and it seemed that his frustration had gotten the better of him when he slid in with his studs up. He was given a straight red for the challenge, meaning that he automaticaly misses the Queen Of The South match on Saturday.

Brian Wake missed a great chance and Colin Stewart made a couple of excellent saves before the Staggies wrapped up the win in the 90th minute. In a déjà vu moment Martin Scott smashed the ball past Stewart after the ball had been cut back from the left hand side of the Morton defence. The vast majority of the goals we concede come down that side - this is something the management team will have to address. In a very controversial move, I'd advocate Dominic Shimmin's return to the starting XI in place of David MacGregor.

The second half performance was disjointed and nervy - a big comedown after the last four matches. For me, the most disappointing aspect was the way we resorted to hopeless long balls for the last half hour. It was a real backwards step. It will be interesting to see how Grady, and the team, respond to this set back.

Photographs in the body of the report courtesy of Russell Gordon.

Morton (4-4-2):

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

Unused Subs:

12. Masterton
14. McGuffie
15. Shimmin
20. McWilliams

Booked: Monti

Sent Off: Reid (85)

van Zanten Greacen MacGregor Reid
Finlayson Monti
Graham Weatherson

Ross County: McGovern, Miller, Morrison, Kettlewell, Boyd, Keddie, Gardyne (Scott - 81), Lawson, Di Giacomo (Craig - 70), Brittain, Vigurs (Wood - 46)

Subs Not Used: Girvan, Malin.

Booked: Miller.

My man of the match: Colin Stewart

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Match Ticket

Team Sheet

Greenock Telegraph - Match Report

The Daily Record - Match Report

bbc sport - Match Report

1 comment:

mortonjag said...

If Shimmin is fit and 'up for it' there's nothing wrong with your suggestion. Davie McGregor consistently makes rudimentary errors under pressure, lacks pace, and distributes the ball like a scramble at a wedding!