Match Report: Morton 1-1 Hibernian

Match Report: Morton 1-1 Hibernian
by Jonathan Mitchell

Greenock_Morton_FC_logohibernian-logoMorton 1 – 1 Hibernian

Shankland (66 pen) – Cummings (34)

A second-half penalty from substitute striker Lawrence Shankland saw Morton come from behind to hold league leaders Hibernian to a 1-1 draw at Cappielow on Saturday.

On a beautifully sunny day at the Greenock ground, Jason Cummings had given the visitors a deserved half-time lead before Jamie McDonagh went down under a Darren McGregor challenge and Shankland coolly converted from the spot.

The game came just over a week on from the goalless draw between the sides at Easter Road – a match that ended in controversy after Kudus Oyenuga, McGregor, Jim Duffy, and Neil Lennon were sent off deep into stoppage time.

This rematch attracted a huge deal of media and press attention in comparison to a regular Ladbrokes Championship fixture involving the clubs.

However, managers Duffy and Lennon put things to bed with a public pre-match embrace in which they shook hands and performed a joint interview with the BBC.

The aforementioned post-match furore largely overshadowed what was a very positive result for the Ton, and Cappielow gaffer Duffy selected the exact same XI that picked up a point in Leith.

After freshening things up away to Dumbarton, he restored Gary Oliver, Ross Forbes and Aidan Nesbitt to the starting line-up in place of Shankland, Scott Tiffoney and Luke Donnelly.

The hosts, though, were under the cosh for much of the first half, with ex-Ton striker Brian Graham causing problems with his aerial prowess as he proved a handful up top.

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Awkward customer … Former Ton striker Brian Graham caused problems in the first half                       © David Bell

On 17 minutes, the 6ft 2in striker nodded a David Gray delivery back across goal for John McGinn only for the Scotland cap to skew a volley wide.

Then, two minutes later, Graham got above the Morton central defenders to meet Dylan McGeouch’s clipped cross from the left but glanced a header wide of the right-hand post.

He presented team-mate McGinn with another opportunity shortly afterwards, and he went closer than his earlier attempt, narrowly clearing the crossbar with a thumping volley.

Hibs fans were screaming for handball and a penalty when Mark Russell blocked Martin Boyle’s angled shot. However, referee Bobby Madden waved away the appeals, much to Hibs boss Lennon’s frustration both at the time and post-match.

Morton were struggling to make much headway in an attacking sense and offered their first real threat to the opposition goal when Michael Doyle burst into the box and flashed over a cross that forced Ofir Marciano to claw clear.

Yet, it was within less than a minute that Hibs made the breakthrough, Cummings cleverly slipping in behind the Ton backline before tucking a tidy, angled shot across Derek Gaston and inside the right-hand post.

There was anger in the home ranks due to the fact that they were temporarily down to 10 men with Jamie Lindsay waiting on the sidelines to come back on after receiving treatment for a cut, but the complaints were largely half-hearted.

Up top, Oliver had looked a little lethargic and had a brief discussion with the home bench before making way for Shankland in the 41st minute.

It was a change that would prove critical to the outcome of the match, Shankland providing a focal point at the sharp end with his hold up play as well as scoring the all-important equaliser.

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Sent flying … Jamie McDonagh is tripped inside the box                                             © David Bell

Another key switch was made in the 65th minute, Northern Irish utility man McDonagh replacing Michael Tidser and going down under McGregor’s rash tackle almost immediately for a stonewall penalty that the away team readily accepted.

With first-choice taker Tidser off, Shankland, who was at the heart of the move that led to the spot-kick, superbly spinning Efe Ambrose with a feint and chest off to the opposite side before slipping McDonagh in, assumed responsibility.

And he was coolness personified as he placed the penalty into the bottom-right corner, sending Hibs goalkeeper Marciano the wrong way, to earn his side a point and score his first goal since netting on his debut.

It was a much-improved Ton display after the break in which they were much more of an attacking force, and they almost snatched all three points in stoppage time, but Shankland’s searing rising strike flashed over and the match ended in stalemate.

This was the third consecutive draw between the sides, and the fact Morton have matched the title favourites on a regular basis this term corroborates the belief that there is currently a special group of players on the books at Cappielow.

 

Morton (442)

1. Gaston
6. Doyle 4. O’Ware (c) 3. Lamie 17. Russell
8. Forbes 21. Murdoch 10. Lindsay 12. Tidser
11. Nesbitt 7. Oliver

Subs used: 16. Shankland (for Oliver, 41), and 18. McDonagh (for Tidser, 65).

Subs not used: 2. Kilday, 14. Scullion, 19. Donnelly, 37. Tiffoney, 30. McGowan (gk).

Booked: Murdoch (70).

Hibernian (422): Marciano; Gray (c), McGregor, Ambrose, Stevenson; Boyle (Harris, 81), Bartley, McGinn, McGeouch (Shinnie, 87); Cummings, Graham (Holt, 75).

Subs not used: Fyvie, McLean, Keatings, Laidlaw (GK) .

Booked: Gray (85).

Referee: Bobby Madden

Attendance: 4,229

Images: David Bell