Ladbrokes Championship: Morton 2 Dunfermline 1: 03/02/18

Dunfermline travelled to Cappielow to face a Morton side seeking their third successive win for the first time this season. After making three signings at the end of the January transfer window, Allan Johnston was spoilt for choice with his team selection.

There were three changes to the Pars side that were defeated at home by St Mirren a week past Friday. Joe Cardle returned after serving his one match suspension taking the place of Kallum Higginbotham who was missing through illness. Michael Paton dropped to the bench and Dean Shiels was out ill as well. That made space for the debut for Tom Beadling and a debut start for James Craigen.

Other new on loan players James Vincent (from Dundee) and Dan Armstrong (from Wolves) were on the visitor`s bench.

Morton gaffer, Jim Duffy named the same starting eleven as the one that laid the foundation for the demolition of Dundee United the previous Saturday. The Greenock side were hoping for a second win over the Pars in three weeks, a win that would take them past Dunfermline Athletic and into the top four (always assuming St Mirren defeated Queen of the South).

Dunfermline kicked off attacking the goal in front of the empty west terracing and it was the Fifers who had the bulk of the early pressure. In the third minute a Jason Talbot pass was headed on by Declan McManus towards Nicky Clark on the edge of the Morton box but Tom O`Ware covered across the extinguish the danger.

A Jean Yves M`Voto challenge on Scott Tiffoney earned the home side a free kick on the left edge of the Pars box and when Gary Harkins hit it Lee Robinson kept the low on target shot out at his near post. Talbot swept the ball behind for the first corner of the match. When that came over from the left Luca Gasparrotto`s effort was deflected behind for a corner from the other side. That came to nothing.

Jack Airedale embarked on a strong run down the left channel and when he laid the ball off to Gary Oliver to his left the former Jambo sent his shot straight at Robinson. The Pars had a corner of their own in eleventh minute. Cardle sent his delivery into the six yard box but Beadling`s headed effort went wide.

Dunfermline pushed up and the Morton defence were getting stretched. So it was little surprise when a patient build up ended up with Talbot crossing from the left for BEADLING to drive home from the centre of the box. 0-1

Cardle sent a 27th minute free kick into the Morton box, M`Voto headed the ball back across goal but the offside flag went up as Clark tried to get on the end of the chance.

Morton were not working Robinson and when they did it was a weak Tiffoney header on a cross from the left. On the half hour there was a lot of jousting in the Pars box as Harkins pumped over the ball from a free kick but he overhit it and the ball sailed through and out for a bye kick.

Minutes later Callum Morris lost possession to Tiffoney as he tried to usher the ball out and it was fortunate that when Michael Tidser sent the ball on from the right that there was no one in blue and white to convert the chance.

On 35 minutes O`Ware got his head on a Cardle cross and skied it only for Derek Gaston to hold in front of goal. Then two minutes later, Morton equalised. Morris conceded the free kick on the right just 15 yards into the Pars half and Harkins sent another ball over from the setpiece. There were several Morton touches before the ball was knocked down by Oliver for TIDSER to smash a left footed shot past Robinson from 15 yards. 1-1

The Pars should probably have restored their lead just three minutes later. Cardle sent a diagonal pass into the box and Clark clipped the ball into the far side of the Morton net. The Assistant’s flag in front of the standing area for the travelling supporters, was raised and there was to be no goal. Allan Johnston would contest the decision in his post match interview.

Tiffoney struck a 43rd minute shot from 25 yards that was turned behind by Robinson and Harkins connected with Tidser`s delivery from the right but the header went well wide left. Next minute Tidser provided another chance and this time it was Andy Murdoch whose header went narrowly outside the left goalpost.

The Greenock side had 54% first half possession, 7 shots to Dunfermline`s 3 but the teams would turn around all square.

Half time: Morton 1 Dunfermline 1

The `Ton restarted strongly forcing Nat Wedderburn to concede a corner within the first minute but Robinson held Harkins ball in. A 48th minute setpiece from Cardle was headed behind for a corner on the right that Craigen took and Clark met perfectly with a powerful header that was well saved on the line.

DA kept up the pressure with Clark and McManus being closed out deep inside the Morton box. Craigen collected a yellow card in 51 minutes and from the right touchline Harkins sent over a dangerous cross that Oliver fluffed. Back at the other end Clark turned the ball back for Craigen who took a touch along the 18 yard line before hitting his left footed attempt over the bar.

Another Craigen corner in 54th minute saw M`Voto penalised for flattening his marker. A Tiffoney shot was deflected behind for a Morton corner and when Harkins centred Robinson turned the ball away from Gasparotto and out for another corner. This one cause more danger requiring Clark to clear Tiffoney`s effort off the line.

After some Cardle magic on the left, Beadling hit a good attempt from 25 yards but it was deflected behind by a corner. Craigen centred and Clark`s header went tantalisingly close to slipping in at the left post. A Gasparrotto foul on Clark then allowed Craigen to despatch another ball from a setpiece into the home box but Beadling just could not get close enough to the cross to head home.

Beadling was certainly putting himself about and he hurt himself in a 50/50 with Harkins. The new boy was unmoved and was back to defend a 67th minute corner that Clark headed clear. Then Robinson dropped to his left to hold an Oliver shot after the home side had a spell of possession deep into the Pars final third.

There was a chance on the counterattack with McManus holding the ball up for Cardle but the Morton defence held out. It was McManus who collected a 72nd minute yellow card in handing Harkin`s another opportunity to drill in a free kick from the right corner flag but again Clark headed away.

Gaston was alert to hold a Clark header on 75th minute as he got on the end of a dangerous Cardle cross. Three minutes later Robinson held a back heeler from O`Ware on the end of a Iredale cross and it looked increasingly like these teams were not to be separated.

In 81 minutes Gaston held a McManus chip into the box that was searching for a Cardle and Clark. Tiffoney went past a player and then won a corner off Williamson but Morton wasted that opportunity.

Robinson targeted M`Voto with a 86th minute free kick from midway inside the Pars half but over hit it. Next minute he held a good try from Frank Ross and at the other end McManus touched the ball to Clark who then fed Craigen but his chance for a winner was blasted wide.

Gaston held a 35 yarder from Beadling as the match entered its 90th minute. Yet again the Greenock fans were treated to a last minute winner. Sub Bob McHugh broke down the right channel, Robinson came out to the edge of the box to try and get the ball but spilled himself into Morris. McHugh rounded the two of them and cut the ball back for OLIVER who picked his spot. 2-1

Referee Gavin Duncan added one minute of additional time but that was not enough to prevent yet another defeat to Jim Duffy`s side courtesy of a late late strike.
MORTON: Derek Gaston: Michael Doyle, Thomas O`Ware (c), Luca Gasparotto, Jack Iredale: Michael Tidser (Bob McHugh 71), Gary Harkins, Andy Murdoch, Frank Ross: Scott Tiffoney, Gary Oliver.
SUBS NOT USED: Mark Russell, Lewis Strapp, Darren Hynes, Ruaridh Langan, Ricki Lamie, Conor Brennan (GK)
SCORERS: Tidser (37), Oliver (90)
YELLOW CARD: Harkins (88)

DUNFERMLINE: Lee Robinson: Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris (c), Jean Yves M`Voto, Jason Talbot: James Craigen, Nat Wedderburn, Tom Beadling, Joe Cardle: Nicky Clark, Declan McManus.
SUBS NOT USED: Andy Ryan, Fraser Aird, Lee Ashcroft, Daniel Armstrong, Michael Paton, James Vincent, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Beadling (23)
YELLOW CARD: Craigen (51), McManus (72)

REFEREE: Gavin Duncan

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (away) v Livingston, Saturday 10th February 2018 kick off 3.00pm at Tony Macaroni Arena.

Half time draw winning ticket - 26478

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