Safranko (8), Pawlett (29) – McHugh (73)
An impressive first half performance was enough to give Dundee United all three points on Saturday afternoon as Morton suffered a 2-1 defeat at Tannadice.
A much better second half performance from Morton saw Bob McHugh give the Ton a glimmer of hope after netting his 10th goal of the season 18 minutes from full-time however the Greenock side could not find a second goal as they suffer their first defeat to the Tangerine’s this season.
Jonatan Johansson’s side came into the fixture on the back of a 0-0 draw with Dunfermline Athletic, and the Ton boss made just one change to the team with Greg Kiltie, recently signed on loan from Kilmarnock, coming in for Charlie Telfer.
The visitors had to endure heavy pressure from the hosts in the first half and the deadlock was broken just 8 minutes into the first half when Pavol Safranko got on the end of a low driven cross by Peter Pawlett to hit the ball past goalkeeper Robby McCrorie.
Dundee United went close to doubling their lead on 20 minutes as Pawlett met a Nicky Clark cross from the left with his head but McCrorie reacted with a fantastic save to deny the ex Aberdeen midfielder.
This wasn’t the last spectacular save of the afternoon to be made by McCrorie as the Scotland youth internationalist pulled off a fine block to deny Pawlett again for a second time on 28 minutes.
It was however third time lucky for Pawlett as he slotted home Dundee United’s second goal of the game on 29 minutes running through on goal unopposed, thanks to a smart pass from Clark, and finding the back of the net.
Defender Lee Kilday was forced to come off after failing to recover from a collision and was replaced by Kerr Waddell.
The Ton thought they had pulled one back 6 minutes from the end of the first half after Andrew Dallas had blasted a shot in from a few yards out but it was ruled offside by the the assistant referee.
With a minute to go in the first half McCrorie was called into action again after Gregor Buchanan was dispossessed in the box by Safranko who had an attempt on goal but the shot stopper denied the forward of his second of the game.
Robbie Neilson’s side started the second half the same way they started the first half with Morton having to withstand heavy pressure and a quick succession of corner kicks to defend.
Manager Jonatan Johansson waited only 10 minutes into the second half to change things around and he introduced Michael Tidser after 56 minutes with the aim of getting back into the game.
After a solid spell of being on top, the Ton were rewarded for their hard work when Bob McHugh scored in the 73rd minute, getting on the end of a Greg Kiltie cross and tapping it passed Benjamin Siegrist.
The goal brought a new lease of life to Morton as they pressed higher up the pitch looking for the equaliser but despite their efforts they could not breakdown the Dundee United defence a second time.
Up the other end of the park, the hosts had a massive opportunity to get a third but defender Kerr Waddell stepped up and executed a perfect tackle on former Morton player Aidan Nesbitt to deny a one on one situation with McCrorie.
14. Tumilty 2. Kilday 4. Buchanan 3. Iredale
7. Millar 15. Dykes 8. McAlister (c) 20. Kiltie
Subs used: 5. Waddell (for Kilday, 36), and 12. Tidser (for McAlister, 56).
Subs not used: 6. Telfer, 10. Thomson, 17. O’Connell, 18. Oliver, 1. Gaston (gk).
Booked: Waddell (36), Buchanan (87)
Dundee United (4231): Siegrist; Seaman, Connolly, Reynolds(c), Booth; Butcher (Fyvie, 64); Harkes, Smith (Nesbitt, 68), Pawlett (Sow, 74), Clark, Safranko.
Subs not used: Frans, McMullan, Stanton, Laidlaw (gk).
Booked: Reyonlds (80)
Referee: Gavin Ross
Attendance: 4,902 (230 away fans)
⭐️ Star Man: Robby McCrorie
Images: David Bell