Match Report | Morton 2-1 Ross County

Match Report | Morton 2-1 Ross County
by Jonathan Mitchell

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Greenock_Morton_FC_logo Morton 2 – 1 Ross County

Tidser (60), McHugh (78) – Cowie (58)

 

Morton fought back from behind to claim a fantastic three points against title favourites Ross County on a thrilling afternoon at Cappielow.

Staggies midfielder Don Cowie prodded past a prone Ryan Scully to open the scoring on 58 minutes, but red-hot Michael Tidser levelled things up inside 120 seconds with a searing strike from 30 yards.

Tidser, who enjoyed a loan spell in Dingwall in season 2013/14, took his impressive goal tally to five in seven starts so far this term.

Bob McHugh is the second name in the Ton scoring charts, and he fired Ray McKinnon’s men to a memorable victory with his third strike of the season.

Substitute Denny Johnstone nodded down and McHugh snapped onto the ball in a flash, lashing an unstoppable left-footed half-volley across goalkeeper Scott Fox and into the top-right corner to seal the win.

The Ton had gone 11 days without a first-team fixture since their 2-1 loss to Dumbarton in a midweek Irn-Bru Cup tie, a match for which manager McKinnon made a full 11 changes.

Ten of those players came back out, with Jack Iredale the only individual to retain his place in the starting line-up, albeit switching from centre-back to wide left in a front three as part of the gaffer’s gameplan.

The Australian was prominent in the early stages as Ton attacked down the left and forced a series of corners, with one incident in which he hunted down a succession of defenders earning a roar of approval.

Morton, though, could consider themselves fortunate not to fall behind on 15 minutes when Ross Draper grazed the crossbar with a diving header from a Tony Dingwall cross that found him free inside the six-yard box.

That early miss aside, it was a half of end-to-end action high on intensity and effort, but lacking in cutting edge attacking in the final third.

When the Ton did slice through the County defence on 37 minutes, Ross MacLean appeared to be brought down as he danced along the left bye-line into the box.

The Motherwell loan winger suffered a dead leg in the incident, a knock that would eventually see him forced off 10 minutes into the second half, but after a long, hard look referee Greg Aitken allowed play to go on.

Letting fly … Michael Tidser unleashes the drive that drew Ton level                                          © David Bell

MacLean looked to have been presented with an opportunity to break the deadlock when McHugh sent him racing clear, but the assistant correctly flagged for offside and the sides went in goalless.

Staggies midfield powerhouse Draper would still have had a gnawing feeling that he should’ve scored in the first half when he was presented with another fantastic oppportunity to break the deadlock right after the restart.

Only a combination of goalkeeper Ryan Scully, who was an assured presence between the sticks, and Iredale prevented Draper from scrambling a cross from the left over the line from point-blank range.

MacLean had the mainstand celebrating on 50 minutes by crashing a fierce drive into the net from just inside the box. The joy was shortlived, though, as it soon became clear he had rippled the outside of the onion bag.

That excited murmur turned to silence as former Scotland cap Cowie fired the visitors in front on 58 minutes, prodding past a prone Scully after Iain Vigurs had sent him clean through the middle with a first-time pass.

But before anyone could really come to terms with the fact we were trailing, talisman Tidser stepped forward with a screamer of a strike to restore parity inside 120 seconds.

Receiving a Rory McKeown pass inside, the 28-year-old controlled with the sole of his boot, nonchalantly rolled the ball out from his body and lasered an incredible strike inside the right post from fully 30 yards.

County keeper Scott Fox was left clawing at thin air as the ball whipped past him into the net, continuing the galvanised midfielder’s electrifying start to the 2018/19 season.

The visitors underlined their strength in depth by bringing on accomplished strikers Billy McKay and Brian Graham, the ex-Ton striker replacing a former Cowshed favourite in Declan McManus.

However, it was a pair of home forwards who would make the difference, with sub Johnstone and McHugh combining to fire Morton in front with 12 minutes to play.

Johnstone, making his first senior appearance this term, nodded down a McKeown lob and McHugh snapped onto the ball in a flash, lashing an unstoppable left-footed half-volley across Fox into the top-right corner.

Amongst County’s former Cappielow contingent was Michael Gardyne, and the wideman came within inches of an equaliser, flashing a low shot across the face of goal and narrowly wide using his laces.

Morton survived that close shave and a couple more, with Scully superb in taking the pressure off with his handling, before Aitken blew for full-time after five minutes of added time to a roar of triumph from the hosts.

Morton (433)

23. Scully
14. Tumilty 2. Kilday 4. Buchanan 25. McKeown
7. Millar 8. McAlister (c) 12. Tidser
19. MacLean 11. McHugh 3. Iredale

Subs used: 18. Oliver (for MacLean, 57), 9. Johnstone (for Iredale, 67), and 5. Waddell (for Millar, 88).

Subs not used: 6. Telfer, 17. Tiffoney, 20. Bell, 1. Gaston (gk).

Booked: Buchanan (41).

Ross County (4231): Fox; Dingwall, Morris, Fontaine (c), Kelly; Draper (McKay, 82), Vigurs; Gardyne, Cowie, Mullin (Keillor-Dunn, 76); McManus (Graham, 67).

Subs not used: Paton, Stewart, Kelly, Munro (gk).

Booked: Gardyne (48), Vigurs (73), Cowie (75).

Referee: Greg Aitken

Attendance: 1,994

⭐️ Star Man: Michael Tidser

 

Image: David Bell