Relegation-threatened Dunfermline pulled off an unexpected 1-0 win over Morton thanks to an early goal from Ryan Thomson.
The match was not a classic as both teams struggled to create many chances. However, it was the first real opportunity of the match which resulted in the game’s solitary goal.
Scott Taggart gave the ball away after Mark McLaughlin tried a cross field pass. Alan Smith picked it up and ran at the Morton defence and played through Ryan Thomson. The young striker was only 6 yards out and hit his shot low past keeper Dean Gaston to make it 1-0.
10 minutes later Morton had a chance after Michael Hrivnak flapped at a cross and failed to clear it properly. Tony Wallace sent it back in however this time Hrivnak was able to tip Peter McDonald’s header over the bar.
Morton then had a chance from a corner as the ball fell to McDonald. Despite being only a few yards out the striker had his back to goal and his improvised volley went just wide of the post.
The first half petered out and the second half started off in a similar fashion. However, in the final 30 minutes Morton went for 3 up-front in an attempt to win the game.
In the 65th minute as Mark McLaughlin got on the end of a Taggart free-kick and headed back across the six yard box. However, McDonald couldn’t reach the ball for what would have been an easy goal.
Only a few minutes later Alan Smith dispossessed Taggart near his own area and ran into the box from the wing. However, his shot from an acute angle went into the side netting.
In the 72nd minute Michael Hrivnak had to react well to palm a McMenamin header over the bar. Morton continued to push but couldn’t come up with an equaliser. In the final few minutes they had a flurry of chances; Hrivnak had to clear an Aiden Wylie cross of the line before Archie Campbell, McMenamin and McDonald all had chances from corners.
The final chance was to come for leading scorer McDonald. Campbell picked up a long ball forward and sent a low cross into his unmarked striking partner. McDonald looked certain to score, however, he instead blazed the ball over the bar and, with it, Morton’s final hopes of gaining promotion.
The win keeps Dunfermline three points behind rivals Cowdenbeath as they go into a crucial Fife derby on Saturday. While Morton’s loss now means Partick Thistle are certain to win the title and will do so if they beat Raith Rovers on Tuesday.
Morton manager Alan Moore said: “It’s a major disappointment, it’s a poor performance. We were missing a couple of players today but we gave players opportunities that they’ve maybe not had over the last couple of weeks. A couple of them might be up their own a*** or upset that they’ve not been involved so this was an opportunity for them today to go out and show what they can do. Whether it’s for us, or whether it’s to get themselves a deal for next year somewhere else. I don’t think there was many in a Morton shirt that did what we’ve been doing all season, that’s playing good football. Don’t get me wrong they gave themselves a mountain to climb, it was a poor first goal. It was always going to be difficult after that because [Dunfermline] were playing five at the back.
Moore had very strong words for some of his players who he felt didn’t perform, saying: “I said to them. If you don’t want to be here don’t bother turning up to training on Monday and I’ll play a few of my young players. That’s how angry I was because if I was in the position that some of those players are in, fighting for a contract, I know what I’d be doing out on that pitch. I’d be running my arse off, I’d be fighting for every ball – whether I’m going to get a contract here or somewhere else. And I don’t think I got enough of that out of the players on the pitch today.
“I feel let down, big time. We’ve got two reserve games during the week and I can tell you that a lot of the boys that were playing today will be at them, they’ll be playing. Whether their contracts are up on the 15th of May or not.”
Dunfermline manager Jim Jeffries said: “That is the result of the season for us. There’s no doubt about that I told them that at half-time. We’ve got a chance to do, it we got our goal. The team was set-up right. We never gave very much away. Any balls that were played through there was no gaps and as a result they had to get the ball wide and hopefully we could deal with the balls in. The second half was a bit more difficult because they put so many balls in but I felt we dealt with it, the goalie had to deal with some difficult balls in and the centre-backs didn’t give away any free headers.
“Hopefully it should be a good atmosphere next week [against Cowdenbeath]. We’ve got a young team going in there but they’ve shown they can cope with it they need to do it next week because if we can get level with them then we’ve got a superior goal difference. But if we have to go into the play-offs then we’ll do that as well. But the most important thing right now as a club is survival.”
Only three players in Dunfermline’s squad were over 21. And Jeffries had nothing but praise for his youngsters: “To get that result here with the bunch of boys I had just speaks volumes for what they’re going through and their spirit and will and determination. And I’ve said hopefully the club will get out of administration and whoever is in charge they’ve certainly got a good crop of young kids. I just can’t speak highly enough of them today. Everybody played well, we didn’t have a passenger from the goalie out. Remember out of that team today there’s seven of them are going to play in the Youth Cup Final so that just shows you how good these boys are. And we brought a 16-year old on when [Alex] Whittle went off, we brought young Lewis Martin on. So there’s great potential there.”
Morton: (4-4-2) Derek Gaston, Scott Taggart, Craig Reid, Mark McLaughlin, Jordan Halsman (Archie Campbell 62’), Tony Wallace, Kyle Wilkie, Fouad Bachirou (David Graham 29’), David O’Brien (Aidan Fulton 60’), Colin McMenamin, Peter McDonald
Subs not used: Kevin Rutkiewicz, David Hutton
Dunfermline: (5-3-2) Michael Hrivnak, Ross Millen, Kerr Young, John Potter, Grant Munro, Alex Whittle (Ross Drummond 80’), Shaun Byrne, Chris Kane, Josh Falkingham, Alan Smith (Lewis Martin 91’), Ryan Thomson
Subs not used: Blair Henderson, Fayssal El Bakhtaoui, Ryan Goodfellow
Referee: Euan Norris