Frans (31) – Buchanan (78)
Defender Gregor Buchanan’s first Morton goal earned Jonatan Johansson’s side a well-deserved point after a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Dundee United at Cappielow this afternoon.
Both sides will be relatively satisfied with a share of the spoils after coming into their latest Ladbrokes Championship fixture off the back of heavy defeats.
The Arabs lost 5-0 at home to league leaders Ayr United on the Friday evening before the Ton went down to a 3-0 defeat at Dunfermline Athletic the following day.
Greenock gaffer Johansson made three changes to the team that played at East End Park, albeit those were enforced due to injuries and illness.
Defenders Kerr Waddell and Jack Iredale were ruled out through knee and adductor problems, while striker Bob McHugh was only deemed fit enough for a place on the bench after recovering from a virus.
It meant starts for Charlie Telfer, Rory McKeown and Scott Tiffoney and a change from a 3-5-2 to a 4-1-4-1 formation, in which Robert Thomson operated as a lone frontman.
The hosts made an encouraging start, with striker Thomson accepting a Tiffoney pass in off the left flank before firing a snapshot narrowly wide of the left post after 13 minutes.
United began to assert control and goalkeeper Derek Gaston had to look sharp to race off his line and slide at the feet of Pavol Safranko in order to reach a through ball before the dangerous Slovakian striker.
But he was beaten after 31 minutes when 6ft 4in defender Frederic Frans met Fraser Aird’s deep free-kick from wide on the left with a looping header that dropped over the Ton shot-stopper and inside the left post.
The goal apart, Neilson’s men did not pose much of an attacking threat to Gaston’s goal for all they were the better side in the first 45 minutes.
The second half belonged to a purposeful Ton team that emerged from the dressing room with an intensity and vigour that would be rewarded with an equaliser.
Ton’s push to restore parity saw Reghan Tumilty have a tap-in ruled out for offside after just five minutes when he popped up at the back post to turn a Telfer shot over the line.
The former Tannadice midfielder had placed the ball towards goal following an incisive exchange involving Thomson and Michael Tidser, and it looked as though the shot might have been on target before the final touch.
Veteran midfielders Chris Millar and Jim McAlister both went close to finding the net at Cappielow for the first time in their second spells on the Ton books.
On 51 minutes, Millar took United by surprise when he unleashed a speculative volley from around 22 yards, seeing the crisp strike flash narrowly wide of the left post
They went closer still when McAlister did superbly well to get up in support and break beyond the frontline in order to reach Thomson’s flick-on from a Lee Kilday long ball and prod narrowly wide on the stretch.
Johansson introduced McHugh as a substitute after an hour, and Ton’s top scorer was the first to really make goalkeeper Matej Rakovan work.
After taking a moment to realise the ball had broken to him when a defender failed to adequately cut out a Tidser pass, he unleashed a low, angled drive that forced the Slovak shot-stopper to plunge to his right to smother.
The Sinclair Street side never allowed those near misses to affect their confidence, though, and persistence eventually paid off on 78 minutes.
Custodian Rakovan had looked uncomfortable dealing with cross balls over the piece, and it was from his unsuccessful attempt to punch Tidser’s dangerous free-kick from wide on the right that Ton levelled.
Towering centre-half Buchanan was the hero, craning his neck to nod into an empty net after the deadball delivery skimmed off the United goalkeeper’s knuckles.
Both managers appeared frustrated with the officiating on the sidelines over the piece, and Arabs boss Neilson was sent to the stand by referee David Munro on 84 minutes.
Although Johansson was also upset that the whistler had not awarded a number of free-kicks for fouls on Thomson, he was in a positive frame of mind at full-time and praised his players for a very good performance.
14. Tumilty 2. Kilday 4. Buchanan 25. McKeown
6. Telfer 7. Millar 12. Tidser 17. Tiffoney
Subs used: 11. McHugh (for Telfer, 60), and 19. MacLean (for Tiffoney, 72).
Subs not used: 22. Armour, 28. Purdue, 32. Lyon, 38. Eardley, 23. Scully (gk).
Booked: Tumilty (22).
Dundee United (442): Rakovan; Murdoch, Bouhenna, Frans, Booth; Aird (King, 65), Stanton, Fyvie, McMullan (Rabitsch, 76); Curran (McMullan, 82), Safranko.
Subs not used: Smith, Edjenguele, Thomas, Watson, Donaldson (gk).
Booked: Fyvie (42).
Referee: David Munro
⭐️ Star Man: Gregor Buchanan
Image: David Bell