Dunfermline Athletic 1 Greenock Morton 4Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 23rd Feb 2013
If this match did one thing, other than confirm what we’ve really known for weeks about the Pars’ promotion chances, it was to underline the old adage that if things are not going your way, they really don’t go your way. After being well on top for half an hour, the Pars suddenly found themselves trailing to a penalty that went in off a post. After missing one of their own, they conceded two more goals at the start of the second half, a fourth just after the hour, with only a Morris goal providing any sort of consolation.
There was some good news for a change, with the recovery of three players from injury, Geggan, Kane and Barrowman, and all three players went straight into the starting line-up. There was bad news too though, as well as Falkingham’s obvious ankle injury, both Whittle and Kirk had picked up knocks, and they disappeared from the scene. With Husband and Millen dropping to the bench, and Cardle coming in, the Pars lined up with Gallacher in goals, Geggan at right back, McMillan at left back, Dowie and Morris at centre-back, a midfield duo of Thomson and Kane, Cardle wide on the left, Wallace wide on the right, and a forward pair of Dargo and Barrowman. On the bench we had Husband, Hrivnak, Potter, Millen, and the first appearance for the French Morrocan, Fayssal El Bakhtaoui, often described, not entirely accurately, it would appear, as a defender. Morton had many now familiar faces in their ranks – Rutkiewicz, a commanding presence as ever, at the back, Big Martin Hardie in midfield with Tidser and Bachirou, and the experienced pairing of MacDonald and McMenamin up front.
The Pars won the toss, and so it was Morton who kicked off, but not until there had been one minute’s applause to celebrate the life of cup final goal-scorer Ian Lister, who sadly passed away recently. It was pleasing to see this custom observed by those in all corners of the ground, including the Morton fans in the Cowdenbeath end, and the hacks in the press-box.
The Pars soon had Morton on the back foot – Wallace tried a snap-shot from wide on the right, although it was never remotely close, but Thomson was unlucky in 9 minutes, forcing Gaston into a fine save. Ryan had done all the hard work himself, running on to his own flick-on from a throw, lifting it over the defender before hitting it on the volley.
Wallace was again on the corners; he hit his first effort low, and got another chance. This had more height and was cleared, with Geggan, who had stayed back as cover with McMillan, running forward to try a drive from 30 yards that was straight at the keeper.
The Pars’ positive start continued, when Thomson’s head-flick from a Wallace free-kick just evaded the upright. Their passing was crisp and there was plenty of movement, but the final ball lacked a little quality – Dargo’s ball into the danger area in 19 minutes being just ahead of Barrowman, and Gaston was quick to smother.
The Pars continued to look the livelier despite Kane picking up a yellow for a bad challenge. The young midfielder looks to be one of those terrier type players, always nipping around the opposition’s ankles and sticking a foot in, and one wondered how this caution would affect his play.
The Pars again come forward before being hit by a sucker punch on the half hour. The ball had barely been in the Pars half, let alone their goal area, but when Morton eventually put some sort of attack together, the Pars’ defence didn’t get it clear, and Morris took a wild swipe at the edge of the box – he didn’t look to be near the ball, and when Bachirou went down, referee Charleston was only going to give one decision – penalty. Gallacher wasn’t happy, and after a delay to allow the ball to be re-spotted MacDonald blasted off the left hand post, but the fans cheers turned to tears as the ball hit the net on the other side. 1-0 Morton.
Things soon went from bad to worse; what appeared to be a foul on Morris was given the other way, prompting the rarity of a triple booking of McMillan, Geggan and Dowie, as they made their feelings clear. It could have been worse still as the ball was soon fed to MacDonald on the right of the box, and with Morris unwilling to challenge “Peaso” dragged his shot across the goal.
The Pars may have felt hard done by – they soon had the ball up the other end again when McMillan intercepted a pass and sent Cardle down the left. Dargo got the resultant cross on target but Gaston spilled it; Barrowman had his back to goal so quickly played it back out for Cardle to put it back in again. This time Dargo’s shot was blocked and an off-balance Barrowman hurried his follow-up shot.
If Dunfermline couldn’t quite figure out how they were trailing, they had a gilt-edged chance to equalise in 42 minutes. Cardle had the ball on the left and turned one way then the other but failed to get the cross in. Instead, he tried to take the ball along the byeline and was tripped by Bachirou. Penalty! But Barrowman, from a short run up, blasted the ball off the bar.
Half time: Pars 0 Ton 1
If there was one thing the Pars didn’t need, it was a bad start to the second half. However, 45 seconds into the second period, Gallacher was picking the ball out of his net. A Dowie slip on the right had dragged Morris out of position to cover. As Morton went down their left, Kane came back to where Morris had been and headed the cross clear. Of course, there was now a gap in midfield, but despite that, no-one really expected Tidser to beat Gallacher from 27 yards, but that’s what he did, with the keeper looking a bit flat-footed. 2-0.
Within another 4 minutes it was three. Morris came forward and curled in a ball to the right, where Geggan was in an advanced position. Andy hit it in first time, and it appeared to come off Dyer’s hand. Whilst the Pars half-stopped to appeal, Morton played on and came down the park with five against four, the ball was crossed to the back post where MacDonald rose to nod home.