I witnessed this match. I have seen the score in print and today I find myself still asking…how did Greenock Morton not win this?
It was classic Scottish Cup conditions tailored for an upset. The pitch was heavy and it seemed there was as much mud as there was grass! Heavy rain, hail, sleet and snow added to the drama of the occasion but despite these ‘levellers’, this is a match Greenock Morton should have won comfortably.
Usually in these types of matches, the home underdog, urged on by a bigger crowd than they are used to, would come out of the traps flying with naive excitement. There was none of this from Turriff. They were happy to play the early stages without the ball and try to make themselves resolute in midfield and defence.
It never really worked. There was a feeling at this stage, if Morton got the first goal of the match, then it was to be a long afternoon for the James Duthie’s side.
Amazingly, just after the half hour mark – and completely against the run of play – the home side took the lead. The Morton goalkeeper, Derek Gaston, failed to catch a corner kick leaving his goal exposed for Mark Simspon to scramble a shot into the corner. Morton fans would argue that their keeper was fouled as he tried to claim the ball but the goal stood. Gaston struggled all afternoon with similar high balls into his area.
Morton to their credit never really panicked. Conceding first added more urgency to their play with David O’Brien and David Graham finding space down the flanks.
The rest of the first half was relentless Morton pressure. Turriff were given a warning after 40 minutes as O’Brien found space before chipping a cross towards Peter Weatherson. Weatherson somehow hit the bar when it looked easier to score.
It didn’t take long for Weatherson to make amends. Just a couple of minutes later, he received the in the ball in the centre of the pitch and found the bottom left-hand corner of the net with a controlled finish. The sides went in level at 1-1.
Conditions deteriorated with heavy snow falling at the beginning of the second half but it didn’t bother Morton who began the half with real purpose and desire to find a second goal.
Morton’s passing and build up play was too much for Turriff to handle. Their midfield in-particular was getting by-passed. With their goal under siege for much of the half, goalkeeper Steven Coutts was tested time and time again but each time he would parry or block to keep his side in the tie.
The standard of finishing from Morton, a team who have scored plenty of goals in the league this season, left a lot to be desired. Though he wasn’t the only one, David Graham was the main culprit with his profligacy in front of goal. Time and again he found himself in good positions. Time and again he failed to hit the target.
Morton’s pressure dyed towards the end of the game and their frustrations were clear for all to see as defender Craig Reid kicked out at Turriff’s Cameron Bowden. The incident saw both players sent off.
Allan Moore will be annoyed that his side didn’t get the job done at the first time of asking. Turriff can take heart from the spirit they showed in preserving the draw and earning a replay. In truth, they could have suffered a heavy loss here – something they’ll do well to avoid in the return at Cappielow.
Turriff United: Coutts – Davidson, Anderson, Simpson, Bowden – Young, Herd, Davidson, Gauld (Chalmers) – Harris (Campbell), Henderson (Gray).
Greenock Morton: Gaston – Taggart, Reid, Rutkiewicz, Dyer – Graham, Tidser, Bachirou (McLaughin), Obrien – Hardie, Weatherson (Hawke).
Written by Alan Rennie