By Cameron Middleton
It was a successful evening for everyone involved on Wednesday night as a Morton XI defeated Port Glasgow Juniors 2-1 in a charity match that has raised an estimated £3,000 for local girl Rosie Veronica Mitchell.
The Port invited a Ton XI to Parklea for a game staged to help raise funds to allow young Rosie to access further treatment unavailable on the NHS as she bravely battles against neuroblastoma.
Backed by an enthusiastic local crowd looking to enjoy a decent game of football while raising money for a fantastic cause, the Cappielow side, consisting of a mixture of development squad and Under-18 players, started well.
Following great play down the left channel, John Gallacher forced Port stopper Robbie Graham in to a smart save to his left side before blocking from to rebound to complete a great double-save.
On the 20-minute mark, Graham was called in to action again. This time he did fantastically well to deny Ton trialist Joe Knowles after the Australian forward was sent through on goal.
The Cappielow kids were awarded a penalty on the half hour after Knowles was deemed to have been tripped inside the box.
But, in what was becoming a recurring theme, goalkeeper Graham denied Morton once again, getting down low to his right to superbly claw Lewis McGrattan’s spot-kick clear.
The teams could not be separated before the break, and as the teams entered the dressing rooms, a raffle was drawn and prizes distributed as music played over speakers.
Morton picked up as they left off in the second half and finally made the breakthrough, Jack Purdue placing a cool finish into the bottom right corner from 18 yards.
Port responded to the setback by piling on the pressure and equalised in the 64th minute through Craig McCormick, who brilliantly outjumped his marker to meet Paul Coyle’s free-kick and loop a header into the net.
They game had evened out an equal affair, with both sides creating chances but failing to fully capitalise – before Morton scored in the last minute of regular time to win the contest.
Midfielder McGrattan weighted a perfect pass down the left yo Knowles, who then laid off to Jamie Black. Black’s shot was blocked but fell kindly to substitute Michael Garrity, who made no mistake with a placed finish.
A special mention must go to full-backs Gallacher and Ben Eardley, whose performances helped lift the Cappielow side to victory over a determined Port Glasgow outfit.
Morton: 1. Farrell, 2. Eardley, 3. Gallacher, 4. Hynes (c), 5. Martin, 6. McGrattan, 7. Purdue, 8. R. Lyon, 9. Trialist [Knowles], 10. Easdale, 11. Docherty.
Subs: 12. Campbell, 14. Black, 15. Watt, 16. Trialist, 18. Garrity, 20. Coyle (GK).
Port Glasgow Juniors: 1. Graham; 2. Beckley, 3. Mason, 4. McLaughlin (c), 5. R. Cooper, 6. B. Cooper, 7. Stanton, 8. Bamford, 9. McNeil, 10. McAfee, 11. McCormick.
Subs: 12. Boyle, 14. Donnelly, 15. Hemphill, 16. Banks, 17. Donnachie, 18. Williamson, 19. Coyle, 20. Walton, 21. Beaton.
Delighted Port commercial manager Chris McKillop said: “We wanted to facilitate this event to try and do something for Rosie by raising funds and bringing the community together, and I think we have done very well.
“It’s great to see the awareness that has been highlighted. The total amount raised is still to be being confirmed, but we think it will be around the £3000 mark, which is fantastic.”
Ton boss Jonatan Johansson attended the fundraiser and said: “I thank Port Juniors for great hospitality and a well-organised game that raised a lot of money for a worthy cause.
“It was also good to see the reserves getting a run out. I think a few of the players had tired legs having been on the trip to Peterhead and arriving home at 3am, so well done to them getting a win as well.
“It was a tough game, very windy, similar to Peterhead, so they did well to come through it. I was impressed with how Port Juniors played and also how they organised the whole occassion. It was a credit to them.”
Images: Philip Harvey