SFL v Morton

MORTON 1 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 27/09/08

Fixture: Irn Bru SFL Division One

Attendance: 2156, Kick Off: 3.00pm.

Referee: Steven Nicholls

The Pars Manager resisted the temptation to keep the same side that had won well against SPL St Mirren in the midweek CIS Cup tie, and put Stephen Glass, back from injury, straight into the side at the expense of Steven Bell. The bench included on loan striker Ross Campbell and Tuesday night`s scorer, Simon Wiles. Davie Irons eleven showed one change from their Co-operative Insurance Cup tie against Caley Thistle; Peter Weatherson coming in for Ryan McGuffie.

It took more of Jim McIntyre`s never-say-die fighting spirit to rescue a valuable point at Cappielow after a late Ross Campbell goal gave Dunfermline a draw.

It may still be September but a chilly Greenock wind and driving rain reminded us how football in Scotland is essentially a winter game. Before a minute had gone on the clock Dunfermline were given an early opportunity after a poor Morton pass back conceded the Pars the first corner of the match. Kevin Harper`s cross was eventually cleared but this was a lively start and a minute later a good move involving Harper and Bayne allowed Alex Burke space at the left edge of the Morton box. Burke smacked his well struck shot straight at the face of full back Alex Walker who recovered after treatment.

In sixth minute, Morton`s Iain Russell appeared to be getting a ticking off from referee Steven Nicholls for no obvious reason, but soon all was revealed as Russell rushed over to the dugout to change both his shorts and his pair of lycras underneath!

Jim McAllister showed his potential threat with a run that was only halted by an illegal tackle from Burke. Then play switched quickly to the other end after a superb crossfield pass from Glass found Austin McCann in space. McCann`s cross wasn`t held by Cuthbert in the Morton goal but the defence cleared the danger.

In 10th minute Erik Paartalu took a long throw in - the first of many that he would hurl in during the course of the game.The ball broke to Smith who fired wide from the edge of the box.

Morton were coming more into the game but the Pars defence looked comfortable until 16th minute when some quick midfield play released McAllister inside the left channel in Dunfermline`s half. His shot was just outside the goal and struck the rear stanchion of Gallacher`s post.Morton fans o the far side cheered enthusiastically, only to be disappointed to find the ball hadn`t gone in.

It was a warning to Dunfermline and Morton went even closer just three minutes later. A powerful Smith shot was saved low right by Gallacher but Wake should have done better with the rebound as he blasted over with the goal at his mercy from inside the six yard box.

The bad news for Dunfermline continued as skipper Scott Wilson had to be substituted in the next minute after taking a knock to his back. Calum Woods was the replacement and he moved to right back while Scott Thomson joined Greg Shields in the centre of defence. Nipper is soon required to put in a saving tackle as Morton continue to take the game to Dunfermline.

In 23rd minute Dunfermline win a free kick and Austin McCann`s curling ball is narrowly headed past by Andy Kirk.Two minutes later and Dunfermline win a corner.From Harper`s kick the ball is cleared to Stephen Glass who fires it back into the box. Greg Shields gets a head to it but it goes behind to safety.

The game is going from end to end but for both teams the final ball is lacking. In the absence of Scott Wilson, Morton start to make greater use of the high ball but the Pars defence is coping. On the half hour Kevin Harper tries a shot from outside the box but his effort goes wide to Cuthbert`s right. Another Pars corner gives Nick Phinn the chance to lay off to Glass but his shot too is not on target.

As the rain gets heavier, Dunfermline assert control in the closing stages of the first half, but apart from a blocked Kirk shot and more corners, nothing comes of it and the teams go in level.

Half Time: Morton 0 Dunfermline Athletic 0

The second half started quietly and it wasn`t until 50th minute that Dunfermline created their first chance following a foul on Kirk. Glass`s free kick was headed on by Burke but there were no takers at the other side.

Iain Russell`s solo run in 56 minutes got the Morton fans on their feet, but not half as much as they did two minutes later. McAllister`s corner from the left seemed to go beyond Gallagher, to be cleared on to the bar and drop on to Brian Wake`s head from where Gallagher cleared for a corner. The Morton players and fans were adamant it had crossed the line, but for once the referee seemed to give Dunfermline the benefit of the doubt.If there was an injustice it was very quickly put to right in the next minute.Steven Masterton hit a tremendous shot from 24 yards, which Gallagher did well to tip over the bar. But from the resulting corner the ball was headed on for WAKE to hook the ball home at Gallagher`s right hand post to give Morton the lead.

Simon Wiles came on for Kevin Harper in 63rd minute, but it was Morton who nearly increased their lead.A mistake by Woods on the half way line allowed the Morton forwards space to attack the Pars goal.Fortunately Russell blasted his shot over the bar.Dunfermline managed to get back up the park in 68th minute but Austin McCann`s cross was headed wide by Graham Bayne.The big striker scorned an even better chance five minutes later when Wiles found him at the six yard box with a low cross but graham could only fire wide.

In 74th minute Jim McIntyre went all out for the equaliser, substituting Nicky Phinn, who`d not had a bad game, for on loan striker Ross Campbell. Playing with three strikers meant taking a few risks and Austin McCann made an important challenge to prevent Weatherston having a shot at goal.Russell fired straight at Gallagher as the game entered its final ten minutes.

There was certainly no lack of effort as Dunfermline tried to take the game to Morton who by now had retreated to protect their lead.Dunfermline`s endeavours were rewarded two minutes from time. A Dunfermline corner resulted in an almighty scramble and as the ball fell to Ross CAMPBELL coming in from the right.

He was able to control it enough to fire it into the keeper`s bottom right from six yards. It was Campbell`s first senior league goal and a most welcome one for the Pars fans who had made the trip.

Despite grabbing the equaliser, McIntyre decided to keep three men up front and it almost paid off in the dying minutes. First Bayne got a good header in that was kicked off the line, then Alex Burke hit a cracking shot that Cuthbert just got his fingertips to turn it round the post for a corner, and finally Scott Thomson fired one into the pack in the Morton goal, for it also to be cleared close to the line.

As late as the third minute of added time, Morton did get one final chance with a free kick after Woods fouled McAllister but it was to come to nothing. This was a well-earned point in a match where Dunfermline, despite the early loss of their skipper, defended really well. The final ball wasn`t as good as it might have been, and when chances were there they weren`t taken. But at least one young man will be pleased with his contribution, and who knows, Ross Campbell may become an important goalscorer for the Pars in the season ahead, now that his duck is broken.

MORTON: Kevin Cuthbert; Alex Walker, Dominic Shimmin, Erik Paartulu, Chris Smith, Peter Weatherson, Steven Masterton, Ryan Harding, Jim McAlister, Brian Wake, Iain Russell (Allan Jenkins 85).
SUBS NOT USED: Allan McManus, Ryan McWilliams, Kevin Finlayson, Kieran McAnespie.
SCORER: Wake (59)
YELLOW CARD: Paartalu (84)

DUNFERMLINE: Paul Gallacher; Scott Thomson, Greg Shields, Scott Wilson (c)(Calum Woods 20), Austin McCann; Kevin Harper (Simon Wiles 63), Nick Phinn (Ross Campbell 74), Stephen Glass, Alex Burke; Andy Kirk, Graham Bayne.
SUBS NOT USED: Steven Bell, Callum Reidford
SCORER: Campbell (88)
YELLOW CARDS: Glass (71), Woods (93)

WEATHER: Rain, 12˚C

NEXT MATCH: SFL (away) v Clyde, Saturday 4th October 2008, kick off 3.00pm

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