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Morton come out on top in a classic game of two halves

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Pic: Phil McCloy | Scotzine.com

Pic: Phil McCloy | Scotzine.com

A stunning second half display saw Morton remain two points clear at the top of the First Division. In a match were the hosts were close to conceding the title at half time, an inspired second half performance saw the ‘Ton gain a huge three points which keeps them on track to win their first SFL One Division title since 1987.

The league leaders have enjoyed their previous encounters against the Blue Brazil so far this season, after gaining seven points from a possible nine. As for the visitors, they headed to Cappielow undefeated in their last four games and were determined to make it five. Allan Moore kept the same team that comfortably defeated Dumbarton the week previous to this, while the visitors employed ex Morton player, Jamie Stevenson, into the midfield four. As the referee blew for kick off on a very cold, blustery March afternoon, the game got underway.

And from an early stage, it was clear for all to see that the weather was going to be a factor. Scott Linton, however, didn’t seem to be effected by this though after he met a loose ball on the half volley which was inches away from giving Cowdenbeath the perfect start to the game: the bar saving Morton early on. This early chance would set the tone for the first half and, after thirteen minutes of play, the visitors took the lead. After good work down the left hand side, the ball was played across the box towards the unmarked Moore who had the simple task of netting the ball into the empty net. Despite claims of offside, the goal stood and the small travelling support were delirious.

This early goal forced Morton into a sense of caution but they did slowly begin to create a number of chances. Michael Tidser would get the first Morton shot away but his 25 yard shot went flying over the bar. Young Thomas O’Ware, who has cemented his first team place since the injury to William Dyer, would be next to come close but his header lobbed not only the keeper, but the goal as well.

The ‘Ton would be made to pay for these missed chances a few minutes later, when the referee awarded the Fifers a penalty five minutes before the interval. After Kevin Rutkiewicz failed to clear a loose ball, the Cowdenbeath attacker sneaked in behind the veteran defender before being brought down by Martin Hardie. Ex Morton midfielder, Jamie Stevenson, stepped up to take the spot kick and, despite his original shot being saved by Morton shot stopper, Derek Gaston, the 28-year-old made no mistake with the rebound. The relegation fighters were in dreamland, as they headed into the changing rooms at half time two goals up on the league leaders.

With news that closest rivals, Partick Thistle, were already 4-0 up against their opponents, it was clear to see that the eleven players who would take to the field for the second half had the biggest forty-five minutes of the season ahead of them. A win was the only option now; anything else would be allowing Thistle to place one hand on the trophy.

It was clear to see from the very first kick of the second half, that message was also illustrated to the players in the changing room. Allan Moore made one change at the interval, with Archie Campbell making way for January signing, Colin McMenamin. With this, the tempo had risen and the atmosphere was increasing as Morton were given a lifeline: a penalty. Peter MacDonald, who has been scoring for fun since his return from injury, placed the ball down and made no mistake from the spot. The momentum of the game had swung and the ascendancy was well and truly with the league leaders.

And, within three minutes, the game was level and, yet again, it was striker MacDonald that was to thank. After Gaston launched a hopeful ball up the park, the striker got his head onto the ball which somehow managed to find its way into the bottom right hand corner of the net. The Cowshed erupted. Morton were two-thirds of the way there: they could almost taste the three points.

As the fans were beginning to finally take in what had just occurred, Scott Taggart sent the home support wild with an absolute stunning goal. After making a storming run down the right hand side, the right back cut inside before unleashing an unstoppable 25 yard shot into the top right hand corner of the net. The reaction of the fans when that goal hit the net illustrated how important a goal this was: the comeback was complete.

One would have thought that with the lead now secured, Morton would now sit back and try to consolidate the three points; Martin Hardie clearly never got that memo. With an in swinging ball from the right hand side missing everyone, it fell perfectly onto the head of the veteran midfielder to confirm that the three points were staying at Cappielow.

Manager, Allan Moore, began to delay time by making a number of changes, Goal hero, Martin Hardie and fellow midfielder, Kyle Wilkie made way for Jordan Halsman and Tony Wallace in the hope that the two would add some fresh impotence to the ‘Ton attack.

As a number of ambitious shots went flying over the bar in the remaining 15 minutes, Ian Bines brought proceedings to a close, consolidating Morton’s position at the top of the league. Another victory and another three points for Morton, as they continue their march to the SPL.

Morton manager, Allan Moore, was disappointed with the first half display of his players but, in the end, was happy with the three points: “We never really played first half, to be honest. The second goal we conceded was very annoying: Kevin should have dealt with it. We had an uphill struggle at 0-2 but we have boys in that dressing room who believe in themselves.

“We scored pretty early and you could see that the crowd got right behind us. The players lifted themselves and the shoulders went up. I’m delighted with the win I don’t care where we get the goals from, as long as we get them. At half time, we asked the midfield to get us a goal and the boys have come up trumps.”

Colin Cameron was very happy with his side’s first half display, but left disappointed come the full-time whistle: “I thought we played well in the first half. We tried to get the ball down and pass it. You know, we scored a good first goal and then we obviously got the penalty. I said to the players at half time that Morton will come out much stronger second half and improve, and they did that.”

Morton: Gaston, Taggart, Rutkiewicz, Reid, O’Ware, Bachirou, Hardie (Halsman 88), Tidser, Wilkie (Wallace 90), MacDonald, Campbell (McMenamin 46).

Subs Not Used: Hutton, Weatherson.
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Cowdenbeath: Wilson, Brett, Armstrong, Naismith, Adamson, McKenzie, Linton (O’Brien 66), McAllister (Ramsay 87), Stevenson, Greg Stewart, Moore (Coult 74).

Subs Not Used: Wight, Milne.

Attendance: 1,553

For more match images check out the official Scotzine flickr page.

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