Match Report: Falkirk 0-3 Morton

Match Report: Falkirk 0-3 Morton
by Jonathan Mitchell

Greenock_Morton_FC_logodunfermline-logoFalkirk 0 – 3 Morton

Harkins (9), Thomson (42, 61)

Morton recorded their highest margin of victory on the road in 10 months thanks to a fantastic 3-0 win away at Falkirk this afternoon.

Goals from Gary Harkins and a Robert Thomson double saw Jim Duffy’s men win by three goals on their travels for the first time since overwhelming Ayr United 4-1 at Somerset Park back on 28 January.

Bookmakers Coral had mistakenly listed the Ton as Barcelona B on their fixed odds coupon, and, based on this sound beating of the Bairns, they weren’t as far off the mark as the some punters might have thought.

It meant Morton had picked up four points from six in two difficult away games in the space of four days following their midweek draw at Dunfermline Athletic.

Manager Duffy made two changes to the team – and as a result, his system – that picked up a point at the Pars, both of which were enforced.

With Luca Gasparotto ineligible due to the terms of his loan, the Greenock gaffer reverted from a 3-5-2 formation to a 4-4-2, bringing wideman Scott Tiffoney back in from the start in his stead to facilitate the switch.

An under-the-weather Gary Oliver, who had scored his first goal of the season against Dunfermline, was only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench, with Thomson taking his place up top.

And the Ton targetman would play a vital role in all three goals, starting by winning a ninth-minute penalty when he was pulled by Bairns defender Aaron Muirhead inside the box.

After successul conversions against Queen’s Park in a Betfred Cup shoot-out and, more recently, the derby against St Mirren and at home to Queen of the South, Harkins expectedly assumed responsibility.

The unflappable attacking midfielder went across his body, low to Robbie Thomson’s right and although the keeper guessed correctly and saved, the ball broke back to Harkins to push the ball into the unguarded net.

Harkins has now scored four goals so far this season, with three of those coming in a spree spread over the course of his last four outings.

Open play … Harkins strokes home the rebound after seeing his spot-kick saved                   © David Bell

It was harsh on the home goalie, who produced another fine stop to prevent his side falling further behind a minute later, plunging to his left to block close namesake Robert’s placed shot from 12 yards.

Falkirk are without a win in six fixtures. They looked a side devoid of confidence, and wideman Tiffoney was having a field day on the left flank as Ton took the game to the beleaguered hosts.

On 17 minutes, he picked out Ross Forbes with a precise pull-back that the playmaker swept just wide of the right-hand post with a first-time shot.

The Bairns rallied and enjoyed a spell of dominance, the sum total of which was two chances, James Craigen dragging a shot wide before Mark Kerr forced Derek Gaston into a smart save to his left.

But Ton finished the half on top and, in a key moment in the game, Thomson added a second goal with just three minutes until the break.

Forbes delivered an inswinging corner from the right and the rangy former Sons striker used every millimetre of his 6ft 2in frame to rise like a Salmon above the pack and nod into the net to double Ton’s advantage.

Unhappy Bairns boss Paul Hartley made a double change at half-time, replacing Cieran Dunne and Myles Hippolyte with Alex Harris and Lee Miller.

It made no discernible difference, however, and Thomson came within inches of scoring a mirror image of his first goal on 57 minutes, meeting Harkins’ inswinging flag-kick with a flashing header that was just off target.

Aerial assassin … Thomson gets up above the pack to bag the first of his brace                           © David Bell

If the timing of Thomson’s goal was one of the match’s clutch moments, another involved an incredible Gaston double save in the 59th minute.

The Greenock goalkeeper shot out a huge right boot to block substitute Miller’s low shot before then clawing a rising drive out of the top corner to thwart the Scotland cap for a second time.

From potentially seeing their lead halved one minute, the Ton virtually went straight up the field and extended their advantage the next, all but ending the match as a contest.

Experienced campaigner Harkins had been immense over the course of the encounter, putting on a midfield masterclass as he bossed proceedings, and his assist for the third goal was simply sensational.

Picking up the ball deep inside his own half, the 32-year-old drove into enemy territory, checked inside and, noticing Thomson peeling away to the right, slipped a precise pass into his path.

The 24-year-old made no mistake, tucking a cool finish past the Bairns goalkeeper to score his second of the game and sixth of the season, tying him with McHugh at the top of the club’s scoring charts.

Bairns sub Harris saw a curled shot take a deflection off Ricki Lamie and spin past Gaston only to clip the outside of the left post and bounce wide.

But there was never any chance of a disciplined Ton letting their lead slip, and the match ended with the fans chanting ‘Ole’ as their side eased to an impressive victory that even a certain Catalan club could’ve been proud.

 

Morton (442)

1. Gaston
6. Doyle 4. O’Ware (c) 5. Lamie 17. Russell
8. Forbes 3. Murdoch 14. Harkins 15. Tiffoney
10. Thomson 11. McHugh

Subs used: 22. Armour (for Forbes, 83), 7. Oliver (for Thomson, 85), and 23. Barr (for Harkins, 90+1).

Subs not used: 12. Tidser, 21. Langan, 36. Hynes, 20. Doohan (gk).

Booked: Lamie (11), Forbes (27).

Falkirk (4411): Thomson; Tumilty, Muirhead, Grant, McGhee; Dunne (Harris, 46), Kerr (Blues, 66), Craigen, Hippolyte (Miller, 46); Longridge; Austin.

Subs not used: Kidd, Peggie, Mitchell, Mutch (gk).

Booked: Muirhead (9), Tumilty (73).

Referee: Greg Aitken

Attendance: 4,361 (309 away fans)

 

Images: David Bell