Jim Duffy: Bairns’ injury-time equaliser was a sickener

Morton manager Jim Duffy admitted a draw was a fair result against Falkirk but says the outcome was still difficult to stomach due to the cruel and controversial circumstances in which it occurred.

Skipper Lee Kilday volleyed the Sinclair Street side into the lead in the 25th minute and his goal looked to have claimed the win until Luke Leahy scrambled in an injury-time equaliser.

Cappielow gaffer Duffy conceded that the Bairns merited a point on the balance of play but says the suspicion that Leahy’s late leveller should not have stood due to handball served to compound the Ton’s disappointment.

He told gmfc.net: “It’s always cruel when you concede a late goal. Although we didn’t lose the game, it’s always a sickener for the team that concedes.

“All the players in there are really frustrated and a touch angry, and that’s a good sign because you wouldn’t want them to accept losing three points we had in the bag really.

“But I think Falkirk deserved their point in terms of how they played more forward than we did in the second half. They were on the front foot and kept us on the back foot.

“The first half I thought it was a good game. There was more football played from both sides and when that’s the case we can hold our own. But in the second half there were a lot of long balls and that doesn’t suit us. We don’t have that physical presence up front.

“Falkirk changed it quite early on in the second half, bringing on [Myles] Hippolyte and giving him a free role behind the strikers and that gave us a different type of problem.

“Although it allowed them more of a foothold in the game, they didn’t get behind us or cut us open at any time. The defensive unit were terrific; we just couldn’t get a grip of the ball in the middle of the pitch.

“In the last 20 minutes Ross [Forbes] and Michael [Tidser] couldn’t really get on it because they’re back so deep to defend the space Hippolyte is in and that made it difficult for us.

“We brought on Jamie [McDonagh] and Caolan [McAleer] to give us some fresh legs and pace on the counter, and once or twice we did have that.

“We were hanging on a bit towards the last 10 minutes, there’s no doubt about that. We needed to take a wee bit more care at the top end of the pitch, but the players were tired. They had given everything.

“In the last seven days, we’ve played St Mirren away, Hamilton away and Falkirk today, so it’s been an intense period for boys at this stage of the season. It wasn’t effort, that was fantastic as ever, it was just that wee spark that was missing in the last part of the game.

“Defensively, I thought the back four were outstanding in terms of how they protected Gats. And I thought Gats’ handling and positioning was excellent. Again, he’s not had any great saves to make throughout the 90 minutes. And that’s the disappointing thing.

“We’ve played two teams you’d expect to challenge for promotion and they’d had very few chances against us but we’ve only taken two points. That’s always frustrating and disappointing because I think we probably deserved a wee bit more out of the two games.”

Falkirk’s Leahy squeezes equaliser past Derek Gaston                                                                                                                       © David Bell

Falkirk left-back Leahy’s equalising goal was a particular sore point, coming both in the second minute of stoppage time and in questionable circumstances.

Duffy did not have a great view of the incident but revealed that his squad were adamant defender Leahy had handled before knocking the ball into the net.

He added: “It’s a long throw and all you can do is go and attack the ball and pick up the second ball. We defended every one bar that one superbly. I thought Tam O’Ware and Lee Kilday were outstanding attacking the ball, really strong, aggressive and brave.

“But it can come off your own player, it can have a little skim off someone or ricochet between players, and that’s exactly what happened at the goal: it kind of squeezed up between two players.

“Our players are adamant that the boy used his arm to flick it into the space, and if that’s the case it’s even more disappointing. I would have to look back at footage to see if that was the case.

“At the time I wasn’t sure, but there was a bit of a delay in their celebration, so when I think you have that delay it tells you they are looking to see whether anybody has spotted it or not. Listen, if it was a handball then hopefully we get a break somewhere further down the line.”

Despite the disappointment that accompanied the draw, it meant Morton are now seven games undefeated in all competitions so far this term.

And the Ton boss concluded: “Losing a late goal makes it feel like a loss – but it’s not a loss, it’s a draw. It’s not the worst point in the world and we take it and move on.”


Images: David Bell