Greenock Morton 1 Dunfermline Athletic 2Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 27th Feb 2010
The Pars eke out a deserved win against Morton, but have to come from behind to do it with Kirk and Mason doing the business on a cold day at Cappielow.
With Greenock being a good 100 miles closer than Dingwall, and no game at Ibrox to cause delays on the M8, the drive through was quite relaxed, although after last week there was the fear that the anticipated Bacon and Tattie Scone roll could prove to be the highlight; instead it was merely the hors d’oeuvres to main fare as we ended up with a reasonably entertaining game.
We saw some changes in the Pars squad, although nothing radical (like the involvement of some of the under-19s for instance). Dowie and McIntyre missed out completely and Burke and Gibson dropped to the bench, meaning Woods got a start at (left) centre back, Mason made his second debut as a holding midfielder and Andy Kirk returned to lead the line in a 4-5-1 formation.
Fleming was in goals, of course, Ross, McGregor, Woods and McCann along the back, Mason, Phinn and Bell in the middle, Graham right, Cardle left and Kirk on his own. Higgins made a rare appearance on the bench, alongside Burke, Ross Campbell, Willie Gibson and Craig Paterson.
Morton were along their usual lines – adopting a 4-4-2 with Dominic Shimmin partnering Stewart Greacen in central defence, and the tricky Jim McAlister starting on the right. Weatherson and Iain Russell were the strike force.
After a minute’s silence to pay respects to Kenneth Woods, a former Morton director who passed away recently after 65 years’ involvement with the Cappielow club, the Pars kicked off, in all red, attacking the car-park end.
The visitors had the better of the early exchanges, a nice 5th minute move with the Pars switching the ball from side to side ended when Cardle’s cross was too deep for Kirk, and 5 minutes later Ross had the game’s first shot from 25 yards, Kirk being unable to deflect the ball on target.
The pitch was in pretty decent nick for a ground that hadn’t seen a game in weeks, and the Pars put together another nice move in 16 minutes, building from the back. Woods squared to Ross who jinked inside Monti, found Bell in space who in turn found Cardle on the left.
Joe cut inside and chose to blast rather than place, Colin Stewart in the Morton goal being unable to hold the shot, but fisted the ball clear.
Twenty minutes in and Bell and Graham’s interchange at the corner flag left 3 Morton players trailing, but Graham couldn’t find the killer pass. Fleming had hardly seen the ball, but that changed midway through the half as the Pars gifted possession with the sort of sloppy play that has bedevilled the defence all season.
McGregor squared to Woods whose short pass to Mason wasn’t well controlled and a foul was conceded 30 yards out. Masterton’s free-kick nearly caught Fleming out, but Greg dived and turned the ball past the post for a corner. Morton were testing the Pars’ defence with vicious inswingers, from the second of which Fleming went down under pressure from Shimmin but got to his feet fast enough to flap the ball clear.
The Pars moved the ball to the other end, won a corner of their own. Cardle took, and Woods looked to have scored with a firm header only for Stewart to make a good save.
Grady made an early switch, hooking Monti in favour of Paartalu as they sought to be more competitive in the middle of the park, and the game became more even. Ten minutes from the break Weatherson got on the end of a 50 yard cross-field ball, chesting the ball to one side of McGregor but the centre-half got enough of himself in the way to allow Fleming to come and claim.
Graham hadn’t had much joy out of Reid but created a yard of space for a shot in 37 minutes, but he needed about 6 yards of curl to find the far post, and only got one.
With Mason getting a late yellow after again being caught in possession the half ended goalless. The Pars would have been ahead on points, not that too many would have been awarded.
Half Time: Ton 0 Pars 0
The Pars were out first for the second half, but without McGregor, Higgins coming on instead (and taking up the left of the two centre-back berths). The home team started the better, helped by a dubious call when Craig Thomson awarded an early corner, and although David Graham scraped the (outside) of the paintwork of Stewart’s left-hand post when he latched on to a long Fleming clearance in 46 minutes, most of the play was in the Dunfermline half, without being particularly threatening.
Unthreatening, that is, until the 55th minute. McCann had tripped Russell near the touch-line to concede a free-kick. Masterton had a lengthy conversation with a team mate before wandering over to take it.
What the gist of the chat was I don’t know, but if it was “I’m going to curve it in so McGuffie can score with a glancing header” he pretty much nailed it as that’s what happened. 1-0 Morton.
Macca soon made a change – on came Gibson for the disappointing Phinn as the Pars reverted to a 4-4-2, with Graham heading up front alongside Kirk. Gibson looked lively, having an early shot deflected for a corner, and despite Ross and Mason having to make saving tackles at the other end the Pars looked lively too.
In 67 minutes, Graham, seemingly revelling in his more central role, spun Greacen, only to be hauled down 30 yards out, but Gibson’s free-kick was straight at Stewart.