Six of the Best … Morton comebacks

Six of the Best … Morton comebacks
by Jonathan Mitchell

Morton staged a remarkable second-half recovery at Cappielow on Saturday as they came from 2-0 down to beat league leaders Dunfermline Athletic 3-2.

With that fixture fresh in the memory, we felt it was an ideal opportunity to revisit past Ton comebacks by reproducing a feature, written by David Grant, that appeared in our matchday magazine …

 

1. Morton 3-3 Celtic (23 January 1965)

With much of the Scottish football card wiped out because of adverse weather, Morton’s game with Celtic took top billing.

Had every other match in the country gone ahead, the chances are that the Cappielow clash would still have dominated the back pages the following day after an astonishing 90 minutes.

For much of the game, this looked like being a routine victory for Celtic. They took the lead after half an hour when Bobby Lennox outjumped goalkeeper Erik Sorensen to head home and John Hughes doubled their tally.

When Tommy Gemmell netted from 30 yards, the match looked to be over as a contest. However, the home side were given a glimmer of hope when Danish outside right Carl Bertelsen pulled a goal back with12 minutes left.

Morton, wearing sky blue tops and shorts and tangerine socks, pulled themselves right back into contention four minutes later when Hugh Strachan flicked a neat header past Celtic keeper Sean Fallon.

With the Morton fans in the 18,000 crowd roaring on their team, Bertelsen produced the goal of the game to draw his side level, beating Fallon with an overhead kick.

The drama was not finished there, though; in the dying embers of the game, Bertelsen shot and, as the ball headed into the back of the net, referee Mr Stewart controversially blew for full-time denying Morton the win.

The fall-out over this disallowed goal threatened to relegate the death of Winston Churchill to the inside pages of the newspapers.

 

2. Aberdeen 2-2 Morton (11 March 1978)

First Division Morton met Aberdeen in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup at Pittodrie at a time when the hosts were pushing Rangers in the Premier Division title race.

Billy McNeill’s Dons were overwhelming favourites for the tie and confirmed that status as they took a first-half lead through Duncan Davidson’s overhead kick.

Aberdeen laboured in the second half and failed to beat Morton goalkeeper Denis Connaghan again until five minutes from time when Drew Jarvie found the net.

Morton came to life after the second goal and Andy Ritchie pulled one back, prodding home a corner from inside the six-yard box with three minutes left.

The home side had further chances to tie the game up – but, in the final minute of normal time, Morton’s John Goldthorpe knocked the ball home to force a replay with a dramatic equaliser.

 

3. Meadowbank Thistle 2-3 Morton (26 February 1992)

With a quarter-final tie at Celtic Park up for grabs for the winner, the stakes were high for this Scottish Cup replay at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edinburgh.

Morton needed a last-minute equaliser from Rowan Alexander in order to force the rematch, and they would leave it just as late to get through this tie.

On a bitter February evening, Ton found themselves up against it after conceding two first-half goals. An early penalty, converted by David Roseburgh, and a tap-in for John Perry meant they would be chasing the game.

Although a penalty from Alex Mathie early in the second period gave Morton a life-line, it looked as if the game was drifting away from them as the home side attempted to play out time.

It took a tenacious run and blistering shot from David Hopkin to level and, with extra-time looming, Alexander leapt highest to send a looping header into the net and book Morton’s place in the last eight.

 

4. Airdrie 2-4 Morton (21 November 2009)

James Grady’s Morton could scarcely have made a worse start to this away game against Airdrie United, losing two goals within the first four minutes.

David Nixon and John Baird fired past Colin Stewart and the Diamonds only looked likely to add to their tally as they created numerous chances in the first half.

However, Morton rallied just before the interval and Ryan McGuffie headed the visitors back into the game. Then, on the cusp of half time, Peter Weatherson set up Brian Wake and he lashed the ball high into the net.

The Englishman added a second by chipping the ball past home goalkeeper Stephen Robertson after Jim McAlister had put him through on goal.

Ton sealed the points shortly afterwards, Weatherson’s free kick rebounding off Airdrie’s defensive wall to David van Zanten who swept an unstoppable left-foot shot into the top corner from 25 yards.

 

5. Morton 4-2 Cowdenbeath (23 March 2013)

With Morton desperate to keep pace with Partick Thistle at the top of the First Division, this match fell into the ‘must-win’ category.  However, the home side found themselves trailing by two goals at half time.

Striker Craig Moore knocked home Greg Stewart’s cross early on to put the Blue Brazil in front and Jamie Stevenson made it 2-0 when he converted the rebound after Derek Gaston had parried his penalty.

With news filtering through that title rivals Thistle were 4-0 up against Livingston at half-time, Morton knew that nothing less than three points would suffice and a heated dressing-room discussion ensued.

When Martin Hardie was tripped in the box early in the second half, Peter MacDonald’s spot-kick gave them a route back into the match.

MacDonald netted the equaliser three minutes later when he latched on to Gaston’s wind-assisted kick-out and dinked a header beyond Cowdenbeath keeper Lee Wilson into the corner of the net.

The goal of the game came from full-back Scott Taggart. The youngster broke from the half-way line and chopped inside before blasting a 25-yard shot high into the net with his left foot.

Having taken the lead, the Ton relaxed to play some nice football in the closing stages, and midfielder Hardie wrapped up the win by powering a header into the net from Michael Tidser’s inswinging free-kick.

 

6. Morton 3-2 Stenhousemuir (11 April 2015)

Season 2014-15 was notable for the number of games Morton won after falling behind. Over the course of the season, Jim Duffy’s side earned 23 points from losing positions.

Surely the most memorable of those revivals came at Cappielow against Stenhousemuir. The Warriors were battling relegation whilst the Ton were in a poor run of form leaving them trailing in the promotion race.

Morton squandered several early chances and it was the visitors who looked odds-on to take the points when Ross Meechan’s deflected shot put Stenny in front and Paul McMullan’s volley doubled their lead.

They were given a glimmer hope 12 minutes from time, however, when Peter MacDonald acrobatically volleyed in Lee Kilday’s cross.

Then, in the 87th minute, Declan McManus improvised to flick the ball past goalkeeper Greg Fleming to grab a late equaliser. With the momentum firmly in their favour, they snatched all three points right at the death.

Substitute Jon Scullion released McManus on the right and his cross-come-shot was pushed into the path of Stefan McCluskey, who stooped to steer a header high into the net and keep Ton’s title hopes alive (pictured).

 

Be sure to pick up a copy of our new-look matchday magazine, printed by top programme publishers Curtis Sport, for similar in-depth features next season. 

Back issues are available and these can be purchased by visiting the office here at Cappielow or by contacting us via email: admin@gmfc.net or 01475 723571.

 

Image: David Bell