Johansson: Players thrived under the pressure

Proud Morton manager Jonatan Johansson says his players responded magnificently to the pressure surrounding Saturday’s Ladbrokes Championship fixture as they claimed a vital victory at Falkirk.

Both clubs went into the clash targeting maximum points in order to help preserve their second-tier status with margins wafer thin in the bottom half of the table.

But Johansson’s squad showed tremendous bottle and bagged a 2-0 win that pushed them up into sixth position and five points clear of the Bairns at the bottom thanks to second-half goals from Greg Kiltie and Charlie Telfer.

And a beaming Ton boss told “It was a good performance and a great result. It was a pressure game, with a great atmosphere, and the way the players handled that was great.

“They were brave and played football. All through this season, the good times and bad times, we have always been a team that wants to play football and pass the ball.

“I think we dominated large parts of this game and the possession. We were positive, created chances, and got our rewards by scoring twice in the second half.

“I was very proud – and that goes for the Inverness game as well. It has been a good week. Unfortunately, lack of concentration against Inverness cost us two points.

“So it was very pleasing to keep a clean sheet on Saturday. We defended our box really, really well, even when they started to create some chances in the second half, and that hasn’t always been the case this season.

“We really had the bit between our teeth defensively, and we were brave on the ball, which I was delighted about, because in games like Saturdays, the pressure can get to players and they start just kicking it.

“It becomes that sort of game where nobody wants to take responsibility, nobody wants to make a mistake, and the football suffers. But our football in the last two games has been really good. That’s a big credit to the boys.”

Johansson selected Michael Tidser to start against the Bairns, and he explained it was a decision that was never really in doubt: “Michael is a strong character, he’s experienced at this level, and is very good with the ball.

“Unfortunately, he’s had a little bit of an injury. Since coming back, I have had open discussions with Michael and knew he wanted to play.

“I know what he can do for the team, so I was never really in doubt that I would play him against Falkirk. It was more if I felt I was getting negative vibes or any kind of worry from Michael himself that I might not have.

“I never felt that Michael didn’t want to play for the club, to play for the team. I can understand why the situation was a talking point in the press, but it was never an issue for me.”

Forward Gary Oliver was forced off injured after 30 minutes, and the Cappielow gaffer has his fingers crossed it isn’t serious.

He added: “Gary got a knock on his collarbone, which had been injured previously. It’s something we need to monitor but I hope it’s nothing major.

“It’s not a break, so it’s more about how long he’s in pain – he couldn’t move freely and couldn’t hold the ball up properly because any knock was causing a sharp pain so had to make the change – and we take it from there.

“It’s a shame because it’s been a stop-start season for Gary. He’s very good at holding the ball up and linking play, and with all the injuries we’ve had to strikers this season it’s been frustrating for him personally.

“It’s a blow to lose a striker and it’s been one of those seasons. We’ve been really unlucky with injuries to strikers with Denny [Johnstone] and Thommo [Robert Thomson] being out for most of the season as well.

“But Andy Dallas did very well after coming on as an early sub at the weekend. He was involved in both goals and I thought he had his best game for us.”


Image: David Bell