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Spirited ‘Ton battle back from the brink

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Newly appointed Livingston manager, John McGlynn, was left disappointed as his side let a two goal lead slip as Morton fought back to earn an important point at The Energy Asset Arena.

Both sides headed into this, hoping to put a slow start to the season behind them. Livingston, sitting bottom of the Championship after four games, made three changes to the side that were defeated at Dens Park, with Burton O’Brien, Stefan Scougall and Marc McNulty coming in for Jason Talbot, Danny Denholm and eighteen year-old, Connor McDonald. As for the visitors, they kept the same squad that managed to secure a hard-earned point at home to Raith Rovers last Saturday.

As the match got underway, not every fan had taken to their seat by the time the first goal arrived. As Morton captain, Mark McLaughlin hesitated on the ball and passed it out of play, Simon Mensing connected with the resulting corner to fire the ball onto the bar and over the line. New manager, John McGlynn couldn’t have asked for a better start to his new managerial career.

Morton had hardly touched the ball and already found themselves a goal down. Livingston continued to control the early play and soon enough found themselves two ahead. Marc McNulty found space on the right hand side of the box, before rounding keeper, Nicolas Caraux before slotting the ball into the empty net. Only fourteen minutes of football had been played and the Greenock side were in complete disarray.

Despite the sloppy start though, it would be Morton who would begin to take control the game. Dougie Imrie – who was a summer recruit from League Cup winners, St.Mirren – delivered a stunning ball onto the head of striker, Kabba-Modou Cham but his header was tipped over the bar by Livingston shot-stopper, Kevin Walker. Walker would have to be called upon again from the resulting corner, as McLaughlin’s header was well saved.

As the visitors began to pass the ball more freely, Scott Taggart found room down the right hand side to deliver a low ball onto the foot of Tony Wallace, but the midfielder was unable to connect cleanly with the ball.

The pressure was beginning to slowly mount on the home defence, and it was eventually breached ten minutes from the interval. As Fouad Bachirou stood over a free-kick, just outside the box, he rolled the ball sideward’s to midfield maestro, Reece Hands who unleashed an unstoppable strike into the top left hand corner of the net. The nineteen year old had netted his third league goal of the season, and further enhanced his reputation since moving to the club in the summer.

Livingston, despite finding themselves in complete control earlier on, were on the ropes and quickly found themselves pegged back at all square. Dougie Imrie found himself in archers of space and unleashed a long-range effort goalwards. Unable to clutch the ball in his arms, Walker was left scrambling as the ball fell perfectly to Cham who made no mistake.

The players had managed to claw themselves back into a match that seemed finished only fifteen minutes before. Now, the ascendency was well and truly with the visitors as the opening half came to a close.

Manager, Allan Moore, was forced into a change at half time. Veteran defender, Mark McLaughlin had sustained an injured jaw during the first half and couldn’t carry on for the second forty-five. As a result, Slovakian defender, Tomáš Peciar was introduced to the field of play.

Morton started the second half as they finished the first, by controlling the possession and piling the pressure on the hosts. Fouad Bachirou would be next to worry Kevin Walker, but the Frenchman’s strike from the edge of the area was never on target.

Despite Morton having a strong threshold on the game, Livingston showed signs of danger on the break, with Marc McNulty out-battling Bachirou before striking goalwards. The attempt was never going to worry Caraux though, as it rolled wide for a goal-kick. The travelling support thought they’d finally taken the lead when Jonathan Page connected to a Imrie corner at the front post, but he was denied by a world-class save from Walker, who was determined to make up for his first half blunder.

McGlynn, tried to regain the ascendancy by bringing Danny Denholm and Keaghan Jacobs on for Stefan Scougall and ex-Morton midfielder, Kyle Wilkie. However, within a matter of minutes, Morton went even closer to finally completing the comeback, but Imrie’s thirty-five yard effort rattled against the post.

Livingston would be next to carve out an opportunity, but Keaghan Jacobs free-kick was well held by Caraux as the second half was drawing to a close. However, the biggest chance of the second forty-five was still to occur. As Morton broke away quickly, Dougie Imrie played the ball inside to Kabba-Modou Cham, who played the ball onto the toe of goalscorer, Hands, on the right hand side of the box. The midfielder steadied himself before shooting into the side netting from eight yards out.

Morton weren’t going to give up on stealing all three points, though. Tony Wallace would be next to threaten the Livingston goal, but his shot from the edge of the area fizzled just past the post.

Moore tried one last tactic to seize the win by introducing Archie Campbell and David O’Brien to the field of play, but time ran out as the referee blew for full-time.

Livingston XI: Kevin Walker; Mike Mampuya, Simon Mensing, Callum Fordyce, Coll Donaldson; Martin Scott (86’ Daniel Mullen), Burton O’Brien, Stefan Scougall (68’ Danny Denholm), Kyle Wilkie (59’ Keaghan Jacobs); Marc McNulty, Andrew Barrowman.

Subs Not Used: Darren Jamieson, Connor McDonald, Mark Burchill, Kyle Lander.

Morton XI: Nicolas Caraux; Scott Taggart, Mark McLaughlin (45’ Tomáš Peciar), Jonathan Page , Marc Fitzpatrick; Michal Habai (83’ Archie Campbell), Wallace (87’ David O’Brien) Hands, Bachirou, Imrie, Cham.

Subs Not Used: Gaston, McNeil, Verlaque, Fulton.

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