SPFL Championship: DUNFERMLINE 2 MORTON 1: 10/12/16

Conner Duthie and Michael Moffat come in for Lewis Martin and Farid El Alagui. Michael Moffat (12) 1-0: Michael Moffat (23) 2-0: Aidan Nesbitt (43) 2-1

For the visit of Morton Allan Johnston made two changes from the eleven that started against Ayr United the previous week. Conner Duthie came in for the suspended Lewis Martin and and Michael Moffat made his 100th appearance for the Pars replacing the out of luck Farid El Alagui alongside Nicky Clark.

Jim Duffy made three changes from his cup side against Beith Juniors, Gavin Gunning returned and Aidan Nesbitt and Andy Murdoch replaced Lee Kilday and Ricki Lamie. The Greenock side arrived at East End Park having lost just one of their last ten Championship matches and it was them who kicked off attacking the goal at the McCathie Stand end.

It was a fairly quiet start from both sides and there was even greater silence when referee Stephen Finnie awarded the visitors a penalty within five minutes. It was for a fairly tame tackle from Callum Fordyce on Jai Quitongo on the edge of the box but there was a huge roar when Sean Murdoch went to his right and held Tom O`Ware`s spot kick.

Morton pushed again however and Murdoch pulled off another fine save to deny Quitongo. The subsequent corner caused further problems but Lee Ashcroft dived in to make a significant block.

John Herron got in the home side`s first serious attempt on goal but his eighth minute shot was blocked by keeper Derek Gaston`s feet. Then fourth minutes later Christmas came early for Moff. A weak pass back to his keeper from right back Jamie McDonough allowed MOFFAT to nip in and show good control to stick the ball into the Morton net. 1-0

There were appeals for a 16th minute penalty when Clark beat two men before going down in the right side of the box but his tackler quite cleanly came away with the ball. The visitors were awarded an 18th minute free kick 35 yards out and Ross Forbes tried the unexpected playing Gary Oliver in on the extreme right of the Pars box. The Morton striker did get away a shot but it was high.

Morton`s Christmas spirit reappeared in 23 minutes when Mark Russell hit a weak pass back from the left touchline that was never going to reach his keeper. MOFFAT ran on to the ball and placed it under the keeper to find the net at the far post. 2-0

Paul McMullan made a powerful run down the left and when he shot from just inside the penalty box the ball came back off Andy Murdoch`s hand but no penalty!

Higginbotham to Herron and Morton concede a 28th minute corner from the right. Callum Fordyce met that but his header went wide left. Next Herron sent Higginbotham away on the right and his cut back was perfect for Clark to drive on target but the ball was blocked. Moffat was then denied a third goal when Gaston pulled off a fine save.

There was a lengthy stoppagevon 33 minutes after Quitongo was injured as he attacked the ball on the right side of the Pars box. Murdoch took the ball but the Morton player looked to be in some agony and Kudus Oyenuga replaced him.

Dunfermline were next to threaten Higginbotham slipping an inviting ball through for Moffat but the defence did its job. The half came to a bad end with the Fifers conceding a goal in 43 minutes. McDonough exchanged passes with Forbes deep down the right before brushing aside Herron to get in on goal. His shot was blocked but Aidan NESBITT reacted fastest and slotted the ball home. 2-1

Half time: Dunfermline 2 Morton 1

Nat Wedderburn came on for John Herron before the second half started. The on loan Blackpool player had taken two nasty first half knocks on his ankle. Morton immediately created a good opportunity with Nesbitt getting the better of Duthie on the far left and centring the ball for Talbot to clear off the line.

It looked like the Pars were going to receive yet another gift in 50 minutes after McMullan`s screamer of a shot from 20 yards went through Gaston but he turned to grasp the ball before it dropped over his line.

Two minutes later Murdoch had to pull off a good stop to prevent Kudus Oyenuga scoring from eight yards and then Duthie stepped in to get the ball away. Higginbotham stole away from a Morton corner but having picked out McMullan the man in the bright boots tried to beat one defender too many and the chance was gone.

Oliver made fruitless appeals for a penalty after Ashcroft halted his progress and then after Ryan Williamson replaced Duthie a Morton corner ended with a clash of heads. A 61st minute free kick was pumped in by Higginbotham but Ashcroft`s header went well wide right.

Five minutes later Wedderburn`s challenge on McDonough gave Morton a chance from a free kick on the right but that was easily defended and it was back to the other end where Williamson`s cross for Moffat was despatched into the McCathie but the Pars corner was no better than Morton`s.

Williamson then forced McDonough into conceding a 70th minute corner after fine individual skills that took him past two opponents to cross. Wedderburn collected a yellow for taking the feet away from Tidser and Williamson was penalised for cutting down his man on the other flank. Both free kicks were suitably defended before the Pars had a chance from one of their own after McDonough`s tackle on Clark had earned him a yellow card. Higginbotham sent the effort across the face of the goal and out for a goal kick.

Clark had fans on their feet ready to celebrate a third Pars goal in 79 minutes but after he connected well from McCabe`s delivery Gaston got down to save with his right hand just inside the post.

Clark required the physiology on two minutes later as he injured himself in a challenge that handed Forbes a chance to send in a dangerous ball from the setpiece but the Greenock men were caught offside. Back at the other end Clark sent the ball wide left for McMullan but Morton stopped the cross.

Farid El Alagui came on as an 84th minute sub for Nicky Clark but Morton were not for giving in easily. Forbes powered a shot from 25 yards that Ashcroft headed away but really after that the Fife defence saw the match out with very little difficulty.

A great three points that takes Dunfermline into seventh place and a win at Dumfries next Saturday could lift them another place. Sean Murdoch was awarded the Man of the Match award and his penalty save and subsequent saves certainly enabled the Pars to win the day.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Conner Duthie (Ryan Williamson 58), Callum Fordyce (c), Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot: Kallum Higginbotham, John Herron (Nat Wedderburn HT), Rhys McCabe, Paul McMullan: Nicky Clark (Farid El Alagui 84), Michael Moffat.
SUBS NOT USED: Michael Paton, Joe Cardle, Gavin Reilly, David Hutton (GK)
SCORERS: Moffat (12, 23)
YELLOW CARD: Herron (30), Higginbotham (65), Wedderburn (73)

MORTON: Derek Gaston: Jamie McDonagh, Tom O`Ware, Gavin Gunning, Mark Russell: Jamie Lindsay (Michael Tidser 12), Andy Murdoch (Caolan McAleer 76), Ross Forbes, Aidan Nesbitt: Gary Oliver, Jai Quitongo (Kudus Oyenuga 36)
SUBS NOT USED: Lee Kilday, Ricki Lamie, Michael Doyle, Andy McNeil (GK).
SCORERS: Nesbitt (43)
YELLOW CARD: Gunning (31), Tidser (61), McDonough (75)

REFEREE: Stephen Finnie

NEXT MATCH: SPFL Championship (away) v Queen of the South, Saturday 17th December 2016 kick off 3.00pm at Palmerston Park
50/50 Half time draw winner no.72698 won £779

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