Match Report: Morton 2-2 Falkirk

Match Report: Morton 2-2 Falkirk
by Jonathan Mitchell

Greenock_Morton_FC_logofalkirkMorton 2 – 2 Falkirk

 O’Ware (13), Forbes (68) – Craigen (43), Muirhead (50 pen)

 

Morton and Falkirk shared the spoils at Cappielow yesterday afternoon in an action-packed Ladbrokes Championship encounter that had four goals and plethora of talking points.

For the hosts, Thomas O’Ware took his season’s tally into double figures with partner in crime Ross Forbes now on 17 assists and 11 goals after his finding the defender with a free-kick and netting to earn his side the point.

Forbes also struck with the bar with another set-piece, both teams had goals disallowed for handball, three bookings apiece, and the visitors were awarded a second-half penalty over 90 minutes to remember.

Whistler Greg Aitken set an early precedent by cautioning skipper Lee Kilday for a trip on Bairns winger Myles Hippolyte with just seven minutes played.

Hippolyte himself was then cautioned for a late tackle on Jamie McDonagh, who started at right-back with Michael Doyle out with an ankle injury suffered against Rangers.

In a sight so familiar that the word deja vu doesn’t do it justice, Forbes took the resultant free-kick from a position deep on the right and dropped it in at the far post inviting aerial assassin O’Ware to attack and head inside the left-hand post.

The goal came at a stage in the game that the visitors were probably slightly edging proceedings, and they almost levelled up with a dead-ball situation of their own when Peter Grant rose highest to meet a James Craigen corner and send a looping header just wide.

Morton had the ball in the net again on 32 minutes, but in one of the match’s most hotly-contested incidents, the ‘goal’ was ruled out by referee Aitken for an alleged handball.

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Shanks scunnered … Lawrence shows his frustration while ref Aitken indicates handball               © David Bell

Lawrence Shankland, cup-tied for last Sunday’s Scottish Cup loss against Rangers but restored to the starting line-up, pounced on a break of the ball after Aidan Nesbitt’s shot deflected into his path and stabbed the ball over the line.

Confusion reigned, with the reason the strike was chalked off initially unclear, and the striker seemed furious with the decision, seeming to suggest the ball had already hit a Falkirk hand. Irrespective, Aitken was unmoved and the score remained 1-0.

And their agony was compounded when, with two minutes of the half remaining, Peter Houston’s side took advantage of the break by levelling things up.

However, they do so in spectacular style, Craigen, so often a thorn in Morton’s side over the years, crashing an unstoppable shot into the net via the underside of the crossbar after Hippolyte’s teasing cross from the left broke back to him.

Ton then enjoyed a break of their own in the second minute of first-half stoppage time as Nathan Austin also saw a goal ruled out for an alleged handball, seeming to scoop a clipped Craigen free-kick over the line with his hand.

The second half began as frenetically as the first had ended, with Forbes cracking the top of the crossbar with a wicked dipping free-kick from 25 yards before the Bairns were awarded a spot-kick in the 50th minute.

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Successful conversion … Defender Aaron Muirhead fires Falkirk in front from the spot           © David Bell

Man in the middle Aitken penalised left-back Mark Russell for a trip on Lee Miller as they crossed paths inside the box, and defender Aaron Muirhead made no mistake, sweeping past Derek Gaston to his right from 12 yards.

Falkirk then passed up two gilt-edged chances to put the game beyond Jim Duffy’s men, with Austin clipping the crossbar when one-on-one with Gaston before then seeing the Ton goalkeeper block another effort with his chest.

They were made to pay for that profligacy on 68 minutes when substitute Luke Donnelly cushioned a clever pass into the path of right midfielder Forbes to send him clear in the box.

Ton’s top scorer could have lashed at the chance but showed tremendous composure by refusing to rush his shot and instead slowing and talking his time to pick his spot by rifling through goalkeeper Danny Rogers’ legs.

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Measured finish … Ross Forbes slots the ball through Rogers’ legs to make it 2-2                                                    © David Bell

Thereafter, the Sinclair Street side took control of the game and spent the final 20 minutes relentlessly pursuing the goal that would see them gain a priceless three points.

Star man Forbes would come closest, seeing another free-kick acrobatically tipped over the top by Rogers and a searing half-volley vitally blocked by a defender, but there would be no breakthrough and the Ton had to settle for a point.

 

Morton (442)

1. Gaston
18. McDonagh 2. Kilday (c) 3. Lamie 17. Russell
8. Forbes 4. O’Ware 21. Murdoch 12. Tidser
11. Nesbitt
16. Shankland

Subs used: 19. Donnelly (for McDonagh, 55) and 9. Oyenuga (for Nesbitt, 82).

Subs not used: 14. Scullion, 33. Langan, 37. Tiffoney, 39. Strapp, 30. McGowan (gk).

Booked: Kilday (7), McDonagh (26), Russell (49).

Falkirk (442): Rogers; Muirhead, Watson, Grant (c), Leahy; Kerr, Sibbald; Craigen (Aird, 82), Taiwo, Sibbald, Hippolyte (Kerr, 79); Austin, Miller (McHugh, 77).

Subs not used: Kidd, Gasparotto, Gallacher, Thomson (gk).

Booked: Hippolyte (13), Sibbald (40), Muirhead (83).

Referee: Greg Aitken

Attendance: 2,397

Images: David Bell