SPFL League One: MORTON 2 DUNFERMLINE 1: 20/09/14
For the first trip to Cappielow since April 2013 Jim Jefferies made one change to the starting eleven that faced Stenhousemuir the previous week. Free of suspension, Ross Millen returned to the team and Ryan Thomson was relegated to the bench. This also heralded a change in formation with Millen coming in to form three centre backs and releasing Williamson and Drummond into attacking roles.
Morton omitted Mark Russell and Reece Hands; Rickie Lamie and Jamie McCluskey came in. Cheerleaders are a rare sight in Scottish football these days but Morton's young ladies formed a channel through which the ballboys, officials and then players emerged.
The teams changed ends before Morton kicked off attacking the goal at the west end of the ground. It was the home team who were to have the early chance.
On one minute Lee Kilday made a strong run from right back and laid off a great chance for Andy Barrowman but at an angle from 15 yards out the former Pars striker blasted the ball high over the bar. Four minutes later Jamie McCluskey made good headway up the right and Millen was forced to head the cross over his crossbar.
A long ball towards Declan McManus forced Lewis Martin into some alert defensive play before a Millen free kick picked out Geggan in the Morton box but his header back towards Moffat was blocked. A Robbie Crawford cross from the left in 11 minutes was miscued by Gregor Buchanan and Ryan Scully held as the ball headed out beyond his left hand post.
The Pars nearly got caught out after Lamie sneaked in on the left side of the Pars box and Martin put in a fine tackle to prevent McManus sliding in to convert. A Pars corner in 17 minutes demonstrated yet another innovative approach at setpieces from the Fifers but this one failed when Geggan could not control Millen's cross goal delivery.
After Josh Falkingham was lectured for his tackle on Crawford, Joe McKee flashed the 35 yard free kick through the Pars box and narrowly wide right. Referee Nick Walsh then had words with Pepper after he had dumped Williamson off the ball. Millen's free kick was defended out of the box and Morton almost got a result as McManus broke with Millen in pusuit. The 'Ton striker got in the cross but fortunately Williamson slid in to deny Crawford a tap in.
Morton had in certainly been enjoying the bulk of the play and in 29 minutes they got their reward. Drummond failed to cut out a ball to McMANUS and he advanced to the edge of the box before smashing the ball past Scully. 1-0
Morton then threatened more with Barrowman's cut back just too high for McManus to get his head on. Drummond took the pressure off winning a 35th minute corner but Derek Gaston got rare involvement punching away Millen's cross.
Williamson sunk to the deck, possibly struggling from Pepper's robust earlier challenge, and physio Kenny Murray could not do anything for the player. Ryan Thomson came on as the formation shuffled to 4-4-2. Buchanan was then yellow carded and Morton handed a free kick just 28 yards out. McKee who had been yellow carded at the same time took the free kick and as the ball cannoned off the wall Barrowman was caught offside.
In an all too seldom visit to the Morton six yard box Geggan narrowly failed to get on the end of a diagonal ball in from Millen. Dunfermline finished the half showing a bit more resolve but the first 45 minutes had well and truly belonged to the home side.
Half Time: Morton 1 Dunfermline 0
Dunfermline kicked off the second half but it was Morton who came closest to scoring in 49 minutes. McManus ran on to a long ball down the left and evaded Buchanan to flick across goal but beyond the far post. Then a Morton free kick from next near the left corner flag forced a Morton corner that the home side wasted.
In 54 minutes Moffat sent Drummond deep down the left and the Pars fans broke into their first real chant of the day after Chigozie Ugwu controlled the ball with his back to goal but never actually got away the shot. At the other end Sean Crighton met a McKee free kick but powered his header wide right.
Drummond again created danger in the opposition box but when the chance fell for Millen, 28 yards out, his well connected shot was blocked. Play was pretty fast and for a spell good personal skills and good passing was demonstrated by both sides. Morton harried though and Dunfermline never really got the control they sought.
in 64 minutes Buchanan pulled off a fantastic header to send McManus's shot behind for a corner. Then Tom O'Ware powered a header on to the roof of the Pars net. at the midway point of the second half JJ changed things with Andy Stirling coming on for Chigozie Ugwu. Thomson was pushed up to partner Moffat up front.
Gaston made his first mistake of the day when he let Moffat's shot slip through his hands to give the Pars a corner on the left. As Millen waited to cross the ring peeled off and when the ball came over Falkingham was blatantly pushed in the back by Lamie. He was yellow carded and Dunfermline awarded a penalty. Ross MILLEN stepped up and sent the ball to the keeper's left giving him no chance. 1-1
The equaliser looked to be just the boost the Pars needed and Moffat had a good attempt at goal but the home side were to restore their lead with their next foray. Barrowman turned the ball back from the right byeline and PEPPER was perfectly placed to head the ball past Scully. 2-1
McManus would have made it three had Scully not pulled oiff another great stop. Ross Forbes replaced Lewis Spence with seven minutes left but it was Morton who looked more likely to score when Barrowman was just too short to get his head to a cross from the right.
Into the final minute and Geggan and Thomson played through Moffat but he made the decision to pass instead of shoot and the chance was gone.
As Dunfermline pushed up they almost got caught with the counterattack but Scully beat away Barrowman's shot. In the end Morton were worthy winners and leapfrog the Pars who drop three places to fourth.
MORTON: Derek Gaston; Lee Kilday, Sean Crighton, Tom O'Ware, Ricki Lamie; Jamie McCluskey (Reece Hands 85), Joe McKee, Conor Pepper, Robbie Crawford (Michael Miller); Declan McManus, Andy Barrowman
SUBS NOT USED: Nick Caraux (GK), Mark Russell, Jon Scullion, Stefan McCluskey, David McNeil.
SCORERS: McManus (29), Pepper (76)
YELLOW CARD: McKee (40), McManus (64), Pepper (62), Lamie (72).
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully; Ryan Williamson (Ryan Thomson 37), Ross Millen, Lewis Martin, Gregor Buchanan, Ross Drummond; Josh Falkingham, Andy Geggan (c), Lewis Spence (Ross Forbes 83); Michael Moffat, Chigozie Ugwu (Andy Stirling 68).
SUBS NOT USED: Ryan Goodfellow (GK), Shaun Byrne, Stuart Urquhart, Allan Smith
SCORERS: Millen (72 pen.)
YELLOW CARD: Buchanan (39), Thomson (61).
REFEREE: Nick Walsh
WEATHER: Fine 20C
NEXT MATCH: SPFL League One (home) v Peterhead
Saturday 27th September 2014, kick off 3.00pm
Ladbrokes Championship: Saturday 22nd April, Dunfermline v Falkirk kick off 3.00pm