Duffy pleased with a point from Falkirk thriller

Manager Jim Duffy admitted that although a draw was not the desired result on Saturday, it was a fair outcome for both sides in what he felt was a terrific Ladbrokes Championship match against Falkirk.

Morton took an early lead in a pulsating encounter that saw the Bairns fight back to turn the match on its head, taking the lead from the penalty spot before Ross Forbes levelled in the second half, while both teams had ‘goals’ chalked off for handball.

The Cappielow gaffer was relatively content with a point based on the balance of play, albeit he did not agree with the decision to disallow a Lawrence Shankland strike that would have made it 2-0 to the Ton.

Speaking exclusively to gmfc.net, he said: “I think over the piece a draw was probably fair and that it was a terrific and exciting game with a lot of incident. It was a really open, attacking and entertaining game.

“[There were] obviously four goals, shots off the woodwork, keepers making saves, everything you want, a bit of controversy from our point of view – we’re not happy with it.

“At 1-0 up, I felt we were denied a very good second goal, but Greg [Aitken] the referee says he felt it was handball and the player [Shankland] played it.

“From where we were it didn’t look like it hit it; it just looked as if there was any handball, it was just ricocheted off someone and I couldn’t see how that would be deliberate.

“If you get that it makes it 2-0 and calms everyone down, but the fact we didn’t get that allowed Falkirk to get the equaliser and then they scored the second goal from the penalty.

“I think that knocked the stuffing out of us for 10 minutes and they had two fantastic chances to put the game beyond us perhaps, but all credit to the players.

“A little bit like Ibrox, we weathered it, knuckled down, regrouped, made one or two changes to the shape a little bit and started to get a grip of the game.

“In the last 20 to 25 minutes we totally dominated and it would have been harsh if we hadn’t got something from the game, and we see it as a good point.

“You’re playing a team who are consistently at the top end of the Championship. They are a terrific side and have some very good players, and came here with maybe an extra determination after we beat them in the cup a few weeks ago.

“They’re one of the form teams in the division, so I’m not too disappointed. Of course you always want to win matches, but if you can’t win then take something from the game. Over 90 minutes we’re pleased if not delighted with the point.”

Tactical tweak … Gaffer Duffy replaced McDonagh with Donnelly and reshuffled his pack                                  © David Bell

The Ton boss tweaked his team at 2-1 to Falkirk, replacing the cautioned Jamie McDonagh with Luke Donnelly while moving Andy Murdoch to right-back, Aidan Nesbitt to left midfield and Michel Tidser to the centre of midfield.

And he explained: “Jamie obviously got booked early on and then had a tangle leading up to the equalising goal, and I just felt that at the start of the second half he just seemed a little but apprehensive to challenge [Myles] Hippolyte.

“If you can’t get close to Hippolyte he’s going to run and give you problems, so I just felt we had to make that change and also, I wanted to bring Michael Tidser more central because I felt we needed to get a little bit more control of the ball.

“We were maybe knocking it on a little bit too much with Tam [O’Ware] and Andy, and although the two of them were highly competitive, they are different types of players, whereas Michael will get on the ball and make runs.

“He did that and looked a little bit more comfortable there and we allowed Mark Russell to go on the overlap as well, so there were a couple of reasons why we did it, but primarily we felt we had to get closer to Hippolyte.

“There was a choice between putting Andy back there to right-back or Lee [Kilday] there and Tam back [into the centre of defence], but Lee had been booked as well.

“Sometimes as a manager you’ve got to look at the bigger picture and protect the team a little bit as well as hopefully trying to get involved in the game.

“And I felt when Luke came on he did really well for us. He got on the ball, he held it up well, he had the assist to pick out the run from Ross, so from that point of view, it was a good last 25 minutes.”

Star turn … Ton talisman Ross Forbes rifles through Rogers’ legs to level                                              © Gary Bradley

The dynamic duo of Forbes and O’Ware came up trumps for the Ton again, scoring to take their respective tallies to 11 and 10 for the campaign, with the midfielder now on 17 direct assists.

Their contributions at the sharp end have been the topic of much conversation, but delighted manager Duffy still isn’t running out of superlatives for the pair.

He added: “As I said to the two boys in the dressing room, it’s an outstanding contribution – even if neither of them scored another goal or got another assist between now and the end of the season, it would still be an outstanding contribution.

“They’ve been magnificent from day one. Tam had a last-minute fitness test having not trained all week, and for him to come in and play in midfield for us with Jamie [Lindsay] missing was terrific.

“With Ross’s goal he was running through at an angle on his left foot, and I’m thinking: ‘Go on, just put your laces through it.’ But to be fair to him, he knew exactly what he was doing, which was better than I would have done.

“I would have just put my laces through it, so I’m glad he had a bit more composure in that situation than perhaps I would have. It was a terrific goal and those two boys in particular deserve a lot of credit.”


Image (main and inset): David Bell

Image (inset): Gary Bradley