Match Report: Morton 1-1 Dundee United

Match Report: Morton 1-1 Dundee United
by Jonathan Mitchell

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Greenock_Morton_FC_logo Morton 1 – 1 Dundee United

Ross (90+3) – Mohsni (59)

 

Morton substitute Frank Ross scored direct from a corner kick in the third minute of stoppage time to rescue a dramatic home draw with Dundee United yesterday.

Recent Tannadice recruit Bilel Mohsni headed Csaba Laszlo’s men in front just before the hour mark and looked to have earned his side all three points as the clock wound down.

But with just seconds remaining Ross whipped over a wicked inswinging corner that brushed off Billy King and crashed into the net via the crossbar to snatch a share of the spoils and preserve Ton’s third-place perch.

The result also meant that the Sinclair Street side had stretched their unbeaten run to four matches, and Jim Duffy made two changes to the team that beat Brechin City 2-0 at Cappielow in their last outing.

Playmaker Gary Harkins returned after serving a one-match suspension for an accumulation of bookings and replaced Gary Fraser in the starting line-up, while Mark Russell came in for Jack Iredale.

Harkins was a dominant figure in the early stages, illustrated when he snapped onto a loose ball and swept out to Russell on the left. The full-back then surged forward and unleashed a swerving shot that cleared the bar.

Dundee United could, and should, have taken the lead on 12 minutes and only an incredible save from goalkeeper Derek Gaston denied one-time Ton team-mate Paul McMullan and preserved parity.

The former Cappielow loanee had the goal at his mercy eight yards out after United sliced through down the inside left, but Gaston somehow managed to get down to his left and paw his placed shot wide.

Something of a personal duel was developing between the pair, and Gaston came out on top in another head-to-head on 29 minutes.

Ricki Lamie hooked a clearance against his own face to inadvertently set up a counter-attack that ended with McMullan darting down the right and attempting a dinked effort that Gaston did well to deflect wide.

The 30-year-old shot-stopper was called into action again on 35 minutes, but it was a straigthforward save this time as he patted down King’s curled shot and collected at the second attempt.

Former Motherwell, Celtic, and Australia international frontman Scott McDonald had been comfortably contained by the Ton defence before eventually coming to life in the closing stages of the half.

Looping header … Defender Mohsni gives Dundee United the lead                                  © Gary Bradley

A slack pass in midfield saw the striker pick up possession 35 yards out on 44 minutes. Fancying his chances from distance, he unleashed a swerving drive that was always swinging away from goal and finished well wide.

McDonald hit the target with a much more accurate effort in first-half stoppage time but Gaston was equal to the effort and pushed clear down at his left.

Right midfielder Matthew Smith followed up but slammed into the side-netting from a tight angle with the goal gaping, thereby ensuring that the sides went in level at the interval.

Morton could consider themselves fortunate to be on level terms, but they made a bright start to the second half and threatened to break the deadlock from a series of dangerous dead-ball deliveries.

The Tangerines, too, were causing problems with crosses into the box, and McDonald nipped in ahead of Gaston to flick on a King cross from the left. Fortunately, the ball zipped past the far post as well as the keeper.

It was from a similar opening that Laszlo’s side edged in front, McMullan whipping over a corner from the left that Mohsni met with a glancing header that clipped the inside of the far post and nestled in the net.

McDonald was presented with an opportunity to extend their lead with a free-kick in a dangerous position 22 yards out slightly to the right of cente four minutes later.

The 34-year-old did well to get the ball up over the wall and back down again in time to hit the target but Gaston was able to get across his line to cover and clutch at his top left.

Gaffer Duffy made a double change in the 69th minute, bringing on Robert Thomson and Ross for John Baird and Scott Tiffoney, and it would prove critical to his side clinching a point.

After 89 minutes in which the hosts had struggled to threaten Harry Lewis’s goal, sub Thomson passed up a gilt-edged chance to draw his side level.

Perhaps still a little rusty after over two months out injured, the targetman snatched at the opportunity, pulling an angled shot across the face of goal and beyond the far post after bursting clear down the inside-right.

It looked like the game was up. There was just one last sliver of hope when Thomas O’Ware shielded the ball out for a corner after a defensive flick-on from a huge Gaston punt and everyone in blue and white piled forward.

Harkins had been taking inswinging flag-kicks from the left all afternoon but went into the box to add to the Ton’s physical presence in the area for one final crack at a leveller.

This meant that slight Aberdeen loan winger Ross took over responsibilties from the quadrant, whipping an undefendable delivery at the near post, causing King to head into his own net via the crossbar.

The Ton man not only claimed it was his goal but also insisted that he was attempting to find the net direct from the deadball.

The scorer was irrelevant, though. That the Sinclair Street side had equalised was what really mattered, particularly preventing a play-off rival from leaving Greenock with what would have been a morale-boosting win

 

Morton (442/433)

1. Gaston
6. Doyle 4. O’Ware (c) 5. Lamie 17. Russell
3. Murdoch 14. Harkins 12. Tidser 15. Tiffoney
7. Oliver 18. Baird

Subs used: 25. Ross (for Tiffoney, 69), 10. Thomson (for Baird, 69), and 11. McHugh (for Oliver, 83).

Subs not used: 19. Gasparotto, 23. Fraser,  26. Iredale, 20. Brennan (gk).

Booked: Harkins (87)

Dundee United (442): Lewis; Ralston, Durnan, Mohsni, Murdoch; Smith, Stanton (Gillespie, 90), Flood (Quinn, 74), King; McDonald (Fraser, 84), McMullan.

Subs not used: Edjenguele, Slater, Mason, Mehmet (gk).

Booked: Stanton (37), Smith (83).

Referee: Don Robertson.

Attendance: 2,319

 

Images: Gary Bradley