Greenock Morton extended their lead at the top of the First Division to five points after a 2-1 victory against fellow title chasers Livingston.
The result leaves Livingston in fourth place 15 points behind Morton meaning their title chase is effectively over. Morton had taken a half time lead through Martin Hardie, however Iain Russell levelled the sides early into the second half but a late Peter Macdonald goal meant all three points were staying with the Cappielow side.
Kevin Rutkiewicz had a great opportunity to head home the opening goal for Morton eight minutes in, however the defender managed to head well wide from only a couple of yards out after a perfect corner delivery from Michael Tidser.
However Morton didn’t have to wait long to take the lead when Martin Hardie tapped home the ball past McNeil on 15 minutes. A Tidser corner was headed down to Craig Reid who had his sneaky low shot saved by McNeil, however the keeper parried the ball into the path of Hardie who couldn’t miss the empty net from three yards out.
The goal awoke Livingston from their slumber and they had the perfect opportunity to equalise on 18 minutes. Marc McNulty found himself through on goal, however with a tight angle he was only able to strike the ball off Derek Gaston in the Morton goal.
Next to have an attempt on the Morton goal was Livi captain Liam Fox whose free kick got round the wall but ended up just going inches wide of Gaston’s goal.
Anthony Andrews took a speculative shot from 30 yards on 22 minutes which Gaston managed to punch clear. Iain Russell was next to take a shot from distance and again Gaston punched the ball away from danger.
With Livingston piling men forward they were nearly caught short at the back when a brilliant through ball from Michael Tidser made its way to Peter Macdonald whose chipped shot just went over when it looked like it might dip into the top of the net.
The best chance of the first half though fell to Livingston forward Marc McNulty on 40 minutes. The striker was presented with a gilt-edged chance when a Morton defender fell in the box leaving the forward free on goal however he squeezed his shot just wide.
Morton looked to have a comfortable lead at the start of the second half, however Livingston equalised through Iain Russell on 53 minutes. The striker from just outside the box managed to fire a low shot into the bottom of goal past a diving Gaston.
Former Hamilton defender Mark McLaughlin nearly gave Morton its lead back on 59 minutes when he headed the ball down from a Tidser corner; however McNeil was equal to the shot and got down low to beat the ball wide.
However Morton were not to be denied and on 67 minutes they regained the lead when Peter Macdonald headed home at the back post from a perfect in swinging Tidser free kick.
Morton will be looking to extend its lead at the top next Saturday as they take on Raith Rovers at Cappielow. Livingston will be looking to get back into winning ways next Saturday as they go away to Dunfermline.
After the game, Morton manager Allan Moore was happy with the result: “It’s another three points on the board, I keep saying to them at the end of the day that’s them fifteen points behind us and I don’t see them catching up on us by the end of the season, hopefully. We would be very disappointed if that was the case. We knew that was a big three points for us today.”
Livingston manager Gareth Evans was less than happy with the result: “You don’t always get what you deserve in football some times. We aren’t going to apologise for the way that we play. Play the ball on the floor, get it in the box. We should have
dealt better with it on the two occasions we got through on goal, but we never did. We will continue to play football and I thought we were superb for 70 minutes of the game.”
Greenock Morton: Derek Gaston, Scott Taggart, Craig Reid, Fouad Bachirou, Kevin Rutkiewicz, Mark McLaughlin, David Graham (Kyle Wilkie), Michael Tidser, Peter MacDonald (Peter Weatherson), Martin Hardie, David O’Brien
Subs not used: Tony Wallace, Jordan Halsman, David Hutton
Livingston: Andrew McNeil, Kyle Jacobs, Kevin McCann (Callum Booth), Jesus Garcia Tena, Craig Barr, Burton O’Brien, Anthony Andrew, Liam Fox (Daniel Mullen), Marc McNulty, Stefan Scougall, Iain Russell (Jordan Morton)
Subs not used: Callum Fordyce, Darren Jamieson
Referee: Stephen Finnie