Morton suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Falkirk at Cappielow this afternoon after Craig Sibbald’s first-half goal fired the Bairns to all three points.
Although Jim Duffy’s side saw four attempts cleared off the line over the course of the 90 minutes, their difficulties finding the net continued and saw them draw a blank.
The Sinclair Street side had failed to find the goals necessary to pick up victories against St Mirren and then Brechin City in recent weeks despite controlling the second half in both fixtures.
And Cappielow gaffer Duffy made two changes to the team that drew at Glebe Park, bringing in Scott Tiffoney and Gary Oliver for Luca Gasparotto and the injured Jai Quitongo.
This also meant a switch in system back from the 3-4-1-2 utlised in Angus to the familiar 4-4-1-1, with Tiffoney wide on the right and Oliver operating just off top scorer Bob McHugh.
Paul Hartley’s Falkirk had experienced a rollercoaster ride in terms of recent results, following up an astounding 6-1 win over Dundee United with an abject 4-1 loss to Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
It seemed to be a question of which Bairns side would turn up on the day. The answer was one somewhere in between those two extremes, but leaning towards the more positive end of the spectrum.
And they really should have edged in front after five minutes when the ball broke kindly for striker Andrew Nelson inside the box.
But the impressive 20-year-old Sunderland loan star dragged his finish wide of the left-hand post to let Ton off the hook early doors.
Nelson went closer still 10 minutes later, getting on the end of Louis Longridge’s inswinging cross from the right before sending a header wide of the right post.
With the front tandem of Longridge and Nelson impressing, there was a feeling that a goal was imminent, and it arrived on the 20-minute mark.
An outswinging Longridge corner from the left dropped inside the box and Sibbald rifled a half-volley into the net from 10 yards, clipping a Ton man on the way through.
Falkirk were firmly in the ascendancy, and defender Aaron Muirhead scooped an angled shot wide as he attempted to steer a low cross inside the far upright.
Ton were struggling to make headway, and when Tiffoney was dispossessed down the left, it set in motion a counter-attack that ended with Sibbald dragging a low drive past the post from a promising position.
Hartley’s men continued to hold the whip hand, and replicating the sort of steamrollering forward run that Brian Reid performed in Ton colours back in the mid-1990s, Peter Grant careered out from the back.
The bustling centre-half brushed challenges off as he surged towards the edge of the home box and unleashed a low drive that lacked the conviction of his run, and Gaston dropped to his left to smother at his midriff.
Yet, for all Morton had failed to find their rhythm, they would see four efforts scrambled off the line in the final 12 minutes of the half as they posed a threat from set-pieces.
Robert Thomson – playing on the left flank – was the first to be thwarted when he stretched to divert Thomas O’Ware’s downwards header from a Harkins corner towards goal only to see Lewis Kidd hack clear off the line.
He was left frustrated again, when on 41 minutes, he got up and powered a header towards the goal after Ricki Lamie had nodded a Tidser corner back in the danger area and Tom Taiwo produced another crucial clearance.
Then, in first-half stoppage time, it was keeper Robbie Thomson who foiled the hosts twice in quick succession, somehow keeping out McHugh and then Thomson after Harkins had swung over a free-kick from the left.
Those goal attempts were punctuated by a Falkirk break in which Ton enjoyed a huge slice of luck of their own, Longridge’s angled drive spinning up off O’Ware past Gaston and rebounding off the junction.
On the balance of play, the Cappielow club could have no complaints about going in trailing at the break, and yet they could also consider themselves unfortunate after coming within a hair’s breadth of equalising.
McHugh earned his side a point at Brechin by scoring his seventh of the season, and he came to close to making it eight with a glancing header from a Tiffoney cross that finished just the wrong side of the post on 50 minutes.
Gaston was then called into action on 58 minutes, producing a straightforward save by patting down a Nelson piledriver that was too central to really trouble the shot-stopper despite packing plenty of punch.
Duffy attempted to turn the game in his side’s favour by switching up his system, replacing Russell with Gasparotto in order to move to a 3-4-1-2 and pushing Thomson up top with Tiffoney wide on the left.
His side still struggled in their attempts to create any meaningful opportunities, however, and too often resorted to dropping long balls into the box.
When they did come close to scoring it was via two Tiffoney corners, one of which Gasparotto headed towards the target and saw scrambled to safety while the other was punched clear by Thomson at his near post.
But in the end there would be no equaliser and Falkirk left Greenock with maximum points, leaving the hosts rueing an inability to get the ball over the line that has characterised a number of games this term.
6. Doyle 4. O’Ware (c) 5. Lamie 17. Russell
15. Tiffoney 14. Harkins 12. Tidser 10. Thomson
Subs used: 19. Gasparotto (for Russell, 61), and 3. Murdoch (for Harkins, 76).
Subs not used: 16. Strapp, 21. Langan, 26. Iredale, 27. Farrell (gk).
Booked: Lamie (13), Harkins (51).
Falkirk (4411): Thomson; Muirhead, Grant, McGhee; Tumilty (Watson, 44), Taiwo, Kidd, Sibbald, Robson; Nelson (Loy, 90+2), Longridge
Subs not used: McKee, Hippolyte, Blair, Welsh, Mutch (gk).
Referee: Andrew Dallas
Image: David Bell