Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 3 Morton 0: 01/12/18

December opened with a home match against Morton. The Greenock club under Jonathan Johansson arrived in fifth place to meet the Pars who lay two places behind them.

The visitors named a side unchanged from their success at Peterhead in midweek while Allan Johnston made two changes from the side that lost 2-1 at Dingwall the previous Saturday. Kallum Higginbotham sat the match out suspended following his red card against Ross County and Malaury Martin dropped to the bench. That meant that Janes Craigen and Aidan Keena started in a Dunfermline side seeking just their second home league win of the season.

Keena got the game underway with the home team attacking the goal in front of the travelling support in the East Stand. Within 90 seconds Lee Robinson fisted clear a free kick powered in from the right and then Bob McHugh turned the next cross narrowly wide left.

Th Fifers were to get off to a great start however when their first real attacking play saw the ball worked across the top of the Morton box. Robbie Muirhead received the bail and hammered his shot on to the right post and KEENA netted from six yards. Just over three minutes on the clock and 1-0 Pars.

Craigen was next to get in a shot but he was too high and then from a Muirhead free kick in eighth minute the woodwork twice came to the Greenock side’s assistance. The ball was swung in from the right and Jackson Longridge’s head flick came off the far post and Danny Devine’s follow up hit the crossbar.

For the visitors Chris Millar tried a long range shot but Robinson kept it out with a good save low to his left. Back at the other end and Joe Thomson broke into the right side of the ‘Ton box and his cut back looking for the strikers was intercepted by the heels of Jim McAllister.

On the quarter hour there was another great chance for Dunfermline, Keena squared from the right for Thomson 15 yards out but his shot lacked force and Derek Gaston dropped to his side to gather.

Six more minutes passed before another two Pars chances. Keena accepted a square ball from Williamson, he was closed down but Longridge was able to crash an on target shot from 20 yards but despite the pace on the effort Gaston kept it out. Almost immediately Thomson was able to create a space for him to shoot from the edge of the box but the ball slipped outside the left post.

Williamson provided two more crosses that Keena was unlucky first time and the ball just evaded Longridge the second time. Robinson punched away a Tidser corner flighted in from the right and Morton were able to take confidence from a few passes before in 35 minutes Craigen and Keena worked the ball out right for Williamson who yer again got round the defence to cross a decent delivery that Muirhead and then Longridge both had cracks at but were closed down.

Three minutes later Tidser pumped a free kick from the left into the Pars box and the defence deflected the ball only for it to fall for Robert Thomson at the far post and Longridge dived in to stop the shot.

Gregor Buchanan whipped the feet off Faissal El Bakhtaoui and referee John Beaton pointed to the penalty spot. EL BAKHTAOUI took the ball off Craigen and buried the ball im the bottom right for 2-0.

50/50 in terms of first half possession but with eight shots to Morton’s one and a 2-0 score line there was no doubt by which side was on top.

Half time: Dunfermline 2 Morton 0

First threat of the second half came in 47 minutes when Keena latched on to a pass over the top, he burst into the left side of the Morton box, touched the ball on to his right but the keeper beat away his on-target shot.

When Morton got close Longridge did well to rob Reghan Tumilty of his 54th minute chance. The visitors brought on Charlie Telfer for central defender Kerr Waddell and it was the sub who had the chance from Tidser’s 59th minute free kick but Devine did well to turn the well hit shot behind. The corner was defended with Thomson clearing.

There was little in the way of chances coming the home side’s way so Keena tried a 30 yarder in 66 minutes but was well wide of goal. Williamson embarked on a run up the right but slid out on the sidelines and clearly hurt himself. The physio did his job and Ryan was able to return.

A Craigen free kick from inside the centre circle was lofted towards the ‘Ton box but the danger disappeared as the delivery was too big. Morton were stringing passes together but Dunfermline were denying them clear chances, their best falling to McHugh who headed over in 71st minute.

Scott Tiffoney replaced Michael Tidser as the away side continued to press for an opening. The sub forced a 76th minute corner, Millar drilled a low cross into the box, it came back to him and then James Vincent headed away his return.

Muirhead got the chance on the counterattack but closed down on the edge of the box he passed the ball right and Williamson’s cross led to two corners that created pressure but no goals. In 81 minutes El Bakhtaoui was able to break down the left, cut inside and fired at goal only for Gaston to hold.

Craigen’s cross from the right was headed away by Kilday before Tom Beadling replaced Aidan Keena with six minutes remaining. The third Dunfermline goal followed within a minute. El Bakhtaoui flicked the ball into the path of Muirhead and he raced away towards goal from just inside the opposition half. A powerful shot was stopped but not held by Gaston and CRAIGEN followed up to smash the ball into the roof of the net. 3-0

It was definitely all over then and the match was a very welcome second home league win of the season. The victory, the first over Morton in the last seven meetings, takes Dunfermline to within four points of Inverness Caley Thistle in fourth place.

Man of the Match was named as James Craigen.
DUNFERMLINE: Lee Robinson: Ryan Williamson, Lee Ashcroft (c), Danny Devine, Jackson Longridge: James Vincent: James Craigen, Joe Thomson, Robbie Muirhead (Myles Hippolyte 89): Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Lewis McCann 89), Aidan Keena (Tom Beadling 84).
SUBS NOT USED: Malaury Martin, Lewis Martin, Stuart Morrison, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Keena (4), El Bakhtaoui (42 pen.), Craigen (85)
YELLOW CARD: El Bakhtaoui (30)

MORTON: Derek Gaston: Lee Kilday, Gregor Buchanan, Kerr Waddell (Charles Telfer 56), Jack Iredale: Reghan Tumility, Chris Millar, Jim McAlister (c), Michael Tidser (Scott Tiffoney 73), Robert Thomson, Bob McHugh.
SUBS NOT USED: Ben Armour, Rory McKeown, Reece Lyon, Ross Maclean, Ryan Scully (GK).

REFEREE: John Beaton
WEATHER: Cloudy 6C

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (away) v Partick Thistle, Saturday 8th December 2018, 3.00pm kick off at The Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.

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