Match report: Morton 1-1 Falkirk

Match report: Morton 1-1 Falkirk
by Jonathan Mitchell

Greenock_Morton_FC_logofalkirkMorton 1 – 1 Falkirk

    Kilday (25)        Leahy (90+2)

 

Morton were held to a 1-1 draw in their first home game of the league season after a controversial last-gasp equaliser from Luke Leahy rescued a point for visitors Falkirk.

Left-back Leahy scrambled the ball over the line in the second minute of stoppage time to cancel out Cappielow captain Lee Kilday’s first-half opener.

Many among the home ranks, both on the terraces and the pitch, were adamant the ball had struck the Bairns defender’s hand before he prodded into the net, but the goal stood and the full-time whistle sounded with the teams on level terms.

It was an achingly similar turn of events to those of the derby draw at St Mirren seven days earlier when substitute striker John Sutton popped up with a late leveller to snatch a share of the spoils.

In between times, the Greenock men had fought back from behind to eliminate Premiership Hamilton Accies from the Betfred Cup and book their place in the quarter-finals.

As a result of that stunning midweek success, Jim Duffy elected to name the same starting line-up in consecutive games for the first time this term, albeit there was a place on the bench for new forward Kudus Oyenuga after his registration cleared on Thursday.

There was a familiar face in the Falkirk side, former Rangers loan defender Luca Gasparotto making his return to Cappielow as an opposition player for the first time.

Gasparotto and Co were quickest out of the traps, and striker Bob McHugh forced Derek Gaston into action with a left-footed snapshot from 18 yards after seven minutes.

It was something of a false dawn for the visitors, however, as the Ton soon took the game by the scruff of the neck and refused to relinquish their stranglehold for the remainder of the first half.

Their response, in fact, was immediate and less than 60 seconds had passed since McHugh’s effort when the ball was shuttled from Jai Quitongo through Aidan Nesbitt and out to Michael Tidser.

The midfielder had already pre-planned his course of action and clipped an inventive first-time shot at goal; it was precisely weighted and looked set to dip in under the crossbar until goalkeeper Deniz Mehmet arched back to flip the ball behind.

It was another moment of Tidser ingenuity that eventually led to the opening goal as he dropped a deft pass in behind the Bairns back four for Quitongo to chase.

The fleet-footed frontman surged clear and saw his prodded shot deflected wide for the corner that Ross Forbes delivered from the right and Mehmet subsequently fumbled, allowing a gleeful Kilday to slam into the empty net on the volley in the 25th minute.

Kilday-volleys-in-opener-versus-Falkirk_925x581_acf_cropped
Skipper Lee volleys Morton into the lead                                                                                                                                           © David Bell

Ton kept up their domination and might well have extended their lead had they taken full advantage of a wonderful three on two counter-attack shortly before the break.

Reading the play impressively, Ricki Lamie stepped out to intercept a Falkirk pass and led the charge deep into enemy territory with support from Gary Oliver and Jamie Lindsay on either side.

Lamie, though, did not spot the Celtic loanee surging into space on his right and went for goal himself, flashing a low drive past the right-hand upright from around 25 yards.

Bairns boss Peter Houston must have given his troops a half-time rollicking because they emerged with the bit between their teeth and asserted themselves after the break.

With just two minutes played, Gaston was required to demonstrate his reactions by plunging to his right to parry hitman McHugh’s downwards header before the rebound was hacked clear.

The hosts had made a sluggish start and Falkirk were forcing them onto the back foot – but without managing to manufacture much in the way of dangerous goal-mouth chances, Thomas O’Ware and Kilday confidently repelling anything that came their way.

Ton were struggling to get out of their own half and manager Duffy brought on Oyenuga, for his debut, Jamie McDonagh and Caolan McAleer, and the hat-trick of changes aided their efforts to get into more advanced positions.

Bairns sub Myles Hippolyte, though, was growing increasingly menacing at the opposite end, and his long throws were a weapon the visitors looked to utilise with time ticking away.

The ex-Livingston man launched one final, hopeful shy deep into the box in time added on to cause chaos before Leahy stabbed the ball into the net.

Referee John Beaton and his stand-side assistant dismissed the handball appeals and allowed the goal to stand, leaving the Ton stung by a second successive late leveller on league duty.

 

Morton (4411)

1. Gaston
6. Doyle 2. Kilday (c) 4. O’Ware 3. Lamie
10. Lindsay 8. Forbes 12. Tidser 11. Nesbitt
7. Oliver
24. Quitongo

Subs used: Oyenuga (for Lindsay, 68), McDonagh (for Nesbitt, 72), and McAleer (for Quitongo, 79).

Subs not used: Scullion, Tiffoney, Strapp, McNeil (gk).

Booked: McDonagh (79), Forbes (90+4).

Falkirk (442): Mehmet; Muirhead, Watson, Gasparotto, Leahy; Craigen (Hippolyte, 56), Taiwo, Rankin, Sibbald; McHugh (Austin, 72), Miller (c) (Baird, 56).

Subs not used: Kidd, McCracken, Kerr, McMinn (gk).

Booked: Mehmet (25), Rankin (37), Hippolyte (80), Baird (90).

Referee: John Beaton

Attendance: 2,079

Images: David Bell