Morton 3 Dunfermline 2Saturday, 9th Sep 2017
Ladbrokes Championship: Clark starts in place of Smith. Joe Cardle (9) 0-1: Kallum Higginbotham (33 pen) 0-2: Robert Thomson (47) 1-2: Gary Harkins (73) 2-2: Jai Quitongo (90+3) 3-2.
The Pars were toppled from the top of the league when Morton came back from 2-0 down at half time to win 3-2 thanks to a late Jai Quitongo goal
The Pars were away from home for the third successive Saturday but no one was going to complain if the result ended up like those at Dumbarton and then Buckie.
After the shake up in the starting eleven for the Irn Bru Cup tie, Allan Johnston reverted to his tried and tested team line up with the exception of Nicky Clark starting up front in place of Callum Smith.
Jim Duffy`s Morton were without a fixture the previous Saturday and they used that to work on one or two things that the manager felt his side had huffed and puffed over. His team selection showed just one changes from the side that faced Livingston, Gary Oliver replacing Jai Quitongo.
The travelling support basked in September sunshine behind the goal at the west end of the ground as the Pars kicked off attacking the goal in front of their fans.
The visitors started in their usual assertive style with Kallum Higginbotham sending over two dangerous crosses on one minute and then on two minutes. The first cross was just too high for the leaping Joe Cardle and then the next was headed away by Tom O`Ware.
The home side then proceeded to miss two great chances within a minute. Firstly right back, Michael Doyle had a free shot at goal and then Andy Murdoch met a fine cross in from the left but both efforts went over the bar amid howls from the home support.
Then in the eighth minute Michael Tidser brushed off Higginbotham to send Mark Russell away down the left and his cross to Ross Forbes on the top of the box was also sent over the top.
Morton`s game plan must have been to prevent Dunfermline continue their habit of scoring within the first ten minutes. Player of the Month for August, Joe CARDLE put paid to that. In ninth minute he picked up a loose ball and burst between two players to enter the Morton box on the left side and slot the ball past the advancing Derek Gaston. 0-1
After an action packed opening ten minutes the match got a bit flat only punctuated in 16 minutes by another Doyle effort from 20 yards out that again cleared the crossbar.
In 18 minutes Dean Shiels pushed forward feeding the ball to Clark on the left side of the Morton box. There he cut back for Cardle who crossed to the far post but Higginbotham`s header glanced wide right. Next a Cardle delivery looked destined for a Declan McManus to head home but he misjudged the pace of the pass and Morton cleared.
Clark fired a shot wide from 25 yard out and at the other end Oliver tried from a similar distance but like all before him hit the ball over the top. Oliver earned another chance from closer in on 27 minutes and this time sent his shot wide left.
In 32 minutes Cardle ran on to a through ball into the right side of the opposition box. Morton won possession but Joe immediately won that back and fed Ryan Williamson slightly deeper. The full back`s cross was travelling to Talbot on the left side of the penalty box. The Pars player went to head the ball on but Forbes` high kick smacked him in the face. Referee Clancy pointed to the spot and showed the former Pars player a yellow card.
After treatment to Talbot, HIGGINBOTHAM stepped up and sent the 33rd minute penalty to the keeper`s right. Gaston had gone the right way but failed to stop the well struck effort nestling in the bottom left of his net. 0-2
Lewis Martin replaced the injured Talbot as the Greenock side tried to retrieve a bad situation. A Forbes free kick was met by Ricki Lamie but his header went straight to Sean Murdoch.
It was still the Fifers who looked more likely to net the next. A great move from Shiels to Clark on the left was then set up for Cardle to take over and his cross from the left byeline narrowly evaded both McManus and Higginbotham in front of goal.
The final chance of the half was created by Higginbotham on the right but he shot when a cross might have paid better dividend. It had been another good first half for Dunfermline Athletic but their opponents had more shots at goal and the worry would be that they would not continue hitting so many of their chances over the crossbar.
Half time: Morton 0 Dunfermline 2
Morton got off to the best of starts when Callum Morris was too weak with his header back towards Murdoch in the second minute of the second half and THOMSON nipped in to stick the ball away. 1-2
Thomson made a good cross into the Pars box in 54 minutes but no one in a hooped shirt could connect. At the other end Clark made ground but his pass for McManus could just not be controlled. Murdoch was then called upon to pull off a fine save diving to his left to prevent Tidser`s shot from 20 yards sneaking in at his left post.
On 63 minutes Jim Duffy made a double substitution replacing Ross Forbes and Bob McHugh with Gary Harkins and Jai Quitongo. Three minutes later the visitors subbed Declan McManus and introduced Callum Smith.
Morton upped their effort and Murdoch found himself clutching a Doyle cross. A Morton free kick in 72 minutes from 30 yards out allowed Tidser a crack at goal. Cardle broke from the wall early to charge down the shot and was duly shown a yellow card and Morton allowed another chance this time from inside the D. Sub Gary HARKINS is made for these kind of setpieces and he lifted the ball over the Pars wall to beat Murdoch to his right. 2-2
David Hopkirk came on for Nicky Clark as the Pars restarted. Cardle tested Gaston with a powerful shot and then after Quitongo had fouled Morris a Higginbotham free kick was pumped towards goal. Morton defended that and resumed a concerted effort towards the Dunfermline end.
The defence cut out penetrative attempts from Andy Murdoch and then thwarted a Doyle run. Tidser tried a wild left footed volley that soared wide of target. Morton then had yet another remarkable miss with just two minutes remaining. Harkins twisted and turned, teasing Aschcroft on the left before putting over a cross that Doyle headed back in front of goal for Quitongo who managed to turn the ball over the bar.
Dunfermline forced two added time corners and from the second Ashcroft`s header was on target but headed off the line by sub Connor McManus. The home side then hit on the break and punished the Fifers with a late late winner.
The match was in the third minute of added time at the end when from A McManus` long ball out of his own half, Martin was beaten by QUITONGO 25 yards out and with composure, the striker advanced to stick the ball beyond Murdoch. 3-2 and there was no way back.
SUBS NOT USED: Scott Tiffoney, Ross Doohan, Ruaridh Langan, Ben Armour
SCORERS: Thomson (47), Harkins (73), Quitongo (90+3)
YELLOW CARD: Forbes (32), McManus (89), O`Ware (90+1)` Quitongo (90+4)
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris (c), Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot (Lewis Martin 35): Kallum Higginbotham, Nat Wedderburn, Dean Shiels, Joe Cardle: Declan McManus (Callum Smith 66), Nicky Clark (David Hopkirk 73).
SUBS NOT USED: Aaron Splaine, Jean Yves M`Voto, Andy Ryan, Cammy Gill (GK).
SCORERS: Cardle (9), Higginbotham (33 pen.)
YELLOW CARD: Higginbotham (59), Cardle (72)
REFEREE: Kevin Clancy
WEATHER: Sunny 18C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (home) v St Mirren Saturday 15th September 2017, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park
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