Morton 0 - 2 Inverness C. T.

Morton 0 -
Inverness C.T. 2
- Foran (6), Rooney (84)

Att: 1,277

Bottle job: Whistler Brian Winter's scandalous decision not to show Stuart Golabek a red card when he denied David Witteveen a clear goalscoring opportunity was the key moment in a match that eventually ended with Caley Thistle extending their lead at the top of the table.

James Grady made one enforced change to the team that drew 3-3 with Queen of the South: Carlo Monti coming in to replace the injured Jim McAlister at left midfield.

As per usual, Morton started the game with all guns blazing and could've scored three times before Caley Thistle hit us with a sucker punch in the 6th minute. In the 2nd minute, David Witteveen had a great shot saved by Ryan Esson and then dragged a shot wide two minutes later after being put clear by Peter Weatherson.

Weatherson had a low shot saved by Esson before Caley broke up the field and scored the opener. Johnny Hayes - who was playing in the Messi role of left footed player on the right wing, which seems to be all the rage - terrorised Alan Reid by running directly at him before dropping the shoulder and skipping past him to the byline where he was given too much space to stand up an excellent cross for Richie Foran, who headed in at the back post. I really didn't think that Foran would score as he looked to be at an acute angle from which it would be too difficult to score. But he did and he scored. For me, Colin Stewart should've done a bit better. He seemed to take an age to scramble across his goal to try and claw the ball out.

Stewart looks to be suffering from a real crisis of confidence at the moment. His decision making appears to be clouded by the goal he conceded against Dunfermline. Now, he kicks the ball out of play at every opportunity to ensure that he doesn't make a similar mistake to the one in the Pars game. And, although the safety first approach is one I like to see players employ, I think Colin is doing it at times when he doesn't have to.

Normal service was resumed immediately after the Highlander's goal as Michael Tidser continuted to orchestrate the game in the middle of the park. We were playing some great football and some of the link play between Tidser, Monti, Weatherson and Witteveen was a joy to watch. It is just unfortunate that we don't seem to have that cutting egde in front of goal.

However, all the evidence seems to suggest that big Witteveen could be the man to change that. He seems to get into the right positions and certainly isn't afraid to have a pop at goal. He almost levelled the game twice in two minutes, but both headers were saved by Esson. The first was a looping header from a Weatherson cross. The ball appeared to be dropping into the net until Esson jumped out from behind the camouflage of a team mate - the goalkeeper and outfield players were both wearing shirts with red on them - to pluck the ball out of the air. The second header was a bit firmer but Esson was well positioned to catch the Wittster's effort.

The outcome of the match could've been so different if referee Brian Winter hadn't absolutely bottled out of giving Golabek a red card for a last man trip that denied Witteveen a one-on-one with the keeper in the 25th minute. "I don't think it was a clear goalscoring opportunity. As a striker, James Grady will say it's a red, but I say it was a yellow," Terry Butcher said. But don't listen to him, it was definitely a goalscoring opportunity and how Winter never flashed the red I'll never know. I've never been one to get overly annoyed at referees - but this was one of the worst decisions I've ever seen at Cappielow. I actually felt physically sick when the ref produced the yellow.

Caley almost doubled their lead completely against the run of play in the 31st minute. Eric Odhiambo caught Neil MacFarlane dwelling on the ball in midfield and quickly switched the ball to Hayes, who ran for goal and curled a magnificent effort over Stewart towards the top corner. For once, our luck was in as the ball crashed against the face of the bar and rebounded to safety.

One thing I really like about Witteveen is that he's not shy when it comes to having a shot at goal. A point that was demonstrated by the fact that he actually had two pot shots at goal in the same minute, the 33rd to be precise. Unfortunately, both efforts were straight at Esson and fairly straightforward saves at that. But, as the old cliche goes: if you don't shoot, you don't score. So keep it up David.

It was a real blow to go in one down at half-time as our play deserved so much more. The fans recognised this and gave the team an appreciative round of applause as they left the field. Yet you'd have thought it was a whole new team that emerged for the second period as the hunger and confidence seemed to have evaporated as they put in a second half display that was in stark contrast to the previous 45 minutes.

We only really threatened the Caley goal on one occasion in the second half - and what an effort it was. Witteveen nipped in ahead of Ross Tokely to steal possession and before the Highland behemoth could blink, the Wittster had rattled an audacious volley towards goal from fully 40 yards. Esson was stranded but to his relief the ball landed a couple of feet wide of his right hand post. It was a great piece of thinking by a player who looks a step ahead of most players at this level, particularly when it comes to getting a shot away. I always think of Andy Gray's commentary when I watch Witteveen as he seems to catch keeepers out by firing off his shots really early and before they've had a chance to get themselves into position to make a save.

Five minutes later, Stewart redeemed himself with a great save to deny Adam Rooney, who'd burst through after slack play by MacFarlane. If it were down to me, I'd only use MacFarlane sparingly from now on. Although he still has good positional sense, I think, at 32-years-old, he's too slow to compete in the midfield. He reminds me a bit of Alan Mahood when he came back to Cappielow for his third spell a few years back ; a great player in his day, but one whose best years were behind him. Mahood knew it and retired, and I think Neil might do the same at the end of his contract next season.

Caley put the result beyond doubt in the 84th minute. Rooney and Russell Duncan traded passes before the Irishman took advantage of Dominic Shimmin's hesitancy by slotting a sublime finish round Stewart and into the bottom right hand corner for his 21st goal of the season.

It was a case of the same old story as Morton failed to take advantage of the chances they created in a strong opening period and were then made to pay from some slack defending at the other end.

The outcome would've probably been different if the referee had given Golabek his marching orders, but he didn't. It's becoming a concern that we continue to fail to score when we are on top and then fade in the second half of matches. We need to start taking our chances. Hopefully Witteveen does a Wakey '08 and scores a few crucial goals to save us from the play-offs. On recent displays, including his one, I've got a wee feeling he might.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Colin Stewart - 5
2. Ryan McGuffie - 7
3. Alan Reid - 6
4. Dominic Shimmin - 6
5. Stewart Greacen (c) - 5
6. Neil MacFarlane - 5 (15. Erik Paartalu - 64 mins)
7. Kevin Finlayson - 5 (12. Donovan Simmonds - 67 mins)
8. Michael Tidser - 7
9. Peter Weatherson - 6 (16. Allan Jenkins - 83 mins)
10. David Witteveen - 7
11. Carlo Monti - 6

Unused Subs:

14. David MacGregor
20. Kevin Cuthbert

McGuffie Greacen Shimmin Reid
Finlayson MacFarlane Tidser Monti
Witteveen Weatherson

Inverness C.T.: Ryan Esson; David Proctor, Grant Munro, Ross Tokely, Stuart Golabek; Johnny Hayes, Lee Cox, Russell Duncan, Richie Foran; Eric Odhiambo (Nauris Bulvītis 69), Adam Rooney (Dan Stratford, 87).

Unused Subs: Robert Eagle, Dani Sánchez, Kyle Allison.

Booked: Golabek, Duncan.

My man of the match: David Witteveen

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Greenock Telegraph - Match Report

The Scottish Sun - Match Report

bbc sport - Match Report

ictfc.co.uk - Match Report


Stevie Aitken's Love Child said...

I'm sorry mate, but The Wittster is a shocking nickname!

Jonathan Mitchell said...

Haha, I actually like it, especially when you see someone else having said it.

But I accept it's hardly original or creative. So, I'm open to suggestions for an alternative.