The form of these teams was contrasting heading into this Scottish Cup tie. Dundee have been struggling for wins all season. Greenock Morton are leading the way at the top of SFL Division 1 – and unbeaten away from home all season and hence, a potential cup upset was on the cards. However, it was not to be as Morton were given something of a reality check at Dens Park.
The first half demonstrated what most had anticipated. It was a close, even contest that looked as if it could go either way. Both teams had spells of good possession and created some good openings but neither team really had any real control in the match.
Dundee’s tactics was to play their full backs high up the pitch to provide width. It would also force Morton’s wingers back into more defensive positions. Dundee’s wide midfield players tucked in to allow space down the flanks for full backs Gary Irvine and Brian Easton. With Morton’s wingers forced back the way, Morton’s 4-3-3 left striker Peter MacDonald somewhat isolated.
Dundee’s positive approach paid off as they took the lead in the 29th minute. Following a cross into the box, Colin Nish cushioned a header across towards Jim McAlister. The ex-Morton striker struck a controlled effort in at the near post.
Dundee’s lead didn’t last long. Within just 2 minutes, Morton leveled the match. The ball fell to captain, Michael Tidser, inside the box and he stabbed the ball towards goal from 8 yards. Despite a heavy parry from Dundee goalkeeper Robert Douglas, he couldn’t keep it out.
1-1 the score at half time and the match genuinely looked as if it could go either way.
The second half, from a Morton perspective, was one to forget. Their defence seemed unable to cope with any kind of high ball into the penalty area. Dundee took the lead just after the hour mark. Jim McAlister chipped a contentiously awarded corner into the box and Lewis Toshney – the defender on loan from Celtic – headed the ball into the corner. It was that simple and far too easy.
It was 3-1 and game over just 6 minutes later as Colin Nish scored a complete fluke. The impressive winger Nicky Riley blasted in a cross and the ball inadvertently hit the head of Nish and found its way to the far corner.
Goals 4 and 5 for Dundee were also poorly defended from Morton. Their failure to clear the ball convincingly allowed John Baird a strike home from the edge of the area. Moments later, young defender Declan Gallagher headed in Baird’s corner kick to round off the scoring. In a 2nd half horror show, the concentration and organizing in the Morton defending left a lot to be desired.
Dundee will gain confidence from their margin of victory here as they continue to battle against relegation from the SPL. They welcome city-rivals Dundee United to Dens in the next round of the Scottish Cup.
In hind-sight, Morton getting knocked out of the cup might prove to be a blessing in disguise. Their sole focus can now be on gaining promotion. However, the manner of the defeat will concern Allan Moore and his team. They conceded 5 goals to a team that have only scored 8 goals at home all season. Morton will need to get back to basics of marking and concentration from set-pieces if their charge to the SPL is to continue.
Dundee FC: Douglas, Irvine, Toshney, Gallagher, Easton, Riley, McBride (Conroy 85), Davidson, McAlister, Nish (Mline 79), John Baird (Stewart 85)
Subs not used: Alex Baird (gk), Benedictus.
Greenock Morton: Gaston, Taggart, Reid, Rutkiewicz, Dyer, Graham (Weatherson 71), Bachirou, Tidser, Hardie (Wilkie 71), O’Brien,
Subs not used: Hutton (gk), O’Ware, Wallace.
Referee: Bobby Madden