Morton 4 -2 Dunfermline AthleticAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 29th Dec 2012
The Pars’ miserable Christmas continued with a 4-2 reverse at the hands of high-flying Morton. An early Morris goal was cancelled out by Bachirou just before the break. Tidser and Weatherson had the home team two goals clear, and although Wallace reduced the lee-way, Tidser capped a fine performance with his second goal late on.
Cappielow remains a bit of a throwback – one of the few places on the circuit where you can purchase a decent slice & tottie from a caravan pre-match, and one with the option of covered standing and cramped seating from which to view the match. I chose the latter, just along from former player (for both sides) Stewart Rafferty, and with the Glasgow derby taking place at Hampden, the journey along the M8 was for once tolerable, if wet.
Jordan McMillan was suspended after his red card against Falkirk, although he did participate in his individual pre-match warm up as Gerry McCabe put the rest of the squad through their paces. The captain’s armband was passed across the back four to the other Jordan, Stephen, and he led some familiar faces out of the Cappielow Tunnel. Callum Morris was back from his suspension to partner Andy Dowie in the heart of defence, Ryan Thomson was in from the start, alongside Falkingham and Husband in midfield, allowing Geggan to make the expected switch to right back. Dargo was back as foil for Barroman up front, with Wallace dropping to the wide left slot, and Gallacher was in goals. Potter and Cardle, both dropped from the starting eleven, at least got places on the bench with Kirk, Whittle and Hrivnak.
Morton, in the middle of a fine run, went with an adaptable 4-5-1, with O’Brien and Wallace offering width and the ability to supplement the attacking force of Peter Weatherson. Martin Hardie was there, as was Kevin Rutkievicz but there was no sign of the injured David Graham. However, Michael Tidser and Fouad Bachirou had caught the eye on previous visits to Greenock and it was a little surprising to see them still plying their trade at the tail of the bank.
The Pars kicked off attacking the Wee Dublin End, which meant that the home team had chosen to shoot towards their own fans, or at least the couple of hundred that had braved the open end, rather than the covered terracing or main stand. This nearly paid immediate dividends as within 30 seconds Bachirou had nutmegged Jordan and when Morris came across to mop up, he merely diverted the ball to Wallace, who with only the keeper to beat blasted off target.
However this aside, the Pars started brightly. Barrowman robbed Hardie in the fourth minute but Dargo’s subsequent pass just failed to set Wallace clear, before Dargo was flagged off-side as he latched onto Husband’s pass, when he looked level at worst. Wallace then set up a shooting chance for Falkingham 25yards out in 9 minutes, but Gaston pushed the ball behind for the game’s first corner.
Pre-match there had been some chat of acknowledging the fifth anniversary of Phil O’Donnell’s untimely death with a minute’s applause in the tenth minute. Whilst a nice idea, there are some obvious problems with this – do you mean the tenth minute, or after 10 minutes? How can people tell when most stadia don’t have a stadium clock? And, most pertinently, what happens if events on the park conflict with the idea? It was the tenth minute, Falkingham hit the corner to the near post where Morris deflected it beyond Gaston’s despairing attempt to keep it out. 1-0 Pars. The Pars fans applauded – the Morton fans stayed resolutely silent.
Morton soon hit back –a well timed tackle Dowie tackled prevented a shot on goal but the home team won a couple of corners – from one of which McLaughlin looked like he had hit the base of the post with a header- before Geggan tracked back and ended O’Brien 17th minute run with a superb tackle, being pushed to the ground as Gallacher dived on the loose ball.
At the other end Thomson had nodded another Falkingham corner over the bar and Barrowman had outpaced McLaughlin to get to the bye-line, but Gaston got to the cut-back at the same time as Wallace and a fruitless corner resulted. Just beyond the half-hour, a lovely Jordan pass let Thomson advance through the middle before slipping Dargo in in the channel, but Gaston beat the latter’s cross-shot away.
However, the home team were beginning to dominate. A series of cheap free-kicks were conceded on the Pars’ left, and each time Tidser’s inswinging delivery caused difficulties for the Pars’ defence. Another McLaughlin header hit the bar with Gallacher beaten, and with all hands to the pump Barrowman was back to head over his own bar.
Then came the game’s turning points. Four minutes from the break Barrowman laid off to Dargo whose pass to Wallace seemed beautifully timed as Ryan ran round the keeper and put the ball into the empty net. However, again the assistant’s flag was up and so no goal. Instead, we had a goal at the other end – Rutkiewicz hit a long, hopeful looking pass over the top into the gap behind the full-back, Hardie crashed the ball off the near-post and Bachirou bundled home for the equaliser.
Had the Pars held out to the interval, it might have been different, but the home team deserved parity at the break.
Half time: ‘Ton 1 Pars 1
The Pars had an early half chance at the start of the second 45 – Barrowman was on his own on the right wing but did well to make space to fire in a cross that narrowly eluded both Wallace and Dargo, the ball being worked back to Jordan but his drive was woeful – but the game was still pretty level when Morton suddenly put in a two goal burst in 4 minutes.