Ladbrokes Championship: Dunfermline 1 Morton 1: 21/11/17
This match was re-organised due to international call ups causing postponement of the fixture on 11th November. Declan McManus would not face his old club due to suspension and the Pars boss Allan Johnston was also without the services of Kallum Higginbotham for the same reason.
Their absence paved the way for first team starts for Fraser Aird and Andy Ryan. Michael Paton returned to the bench. Morton brought in Luca Gasparotto and Thomas O`Ware was back to lead the side meaning Scott Tiffoney and Darren Barr were on the bench.
The visitors won the toss and elected to defend the goal at the McCathie Stand end. Ross Forbes floated a free kick from midway inside the Pars half wide right before at the other end Ryan cut the ball back for Joe Cardle on the top of the box but he failed to get in the shot.
In seventh minute Cardle spread the ball out wide right for Ryan Williamson and as he attempted to cross from the byeline the ball was blocked and the Pars had their first corner of the match. Aird played that in but Morton cleared all too easily.
When Ryan tried to run the ball into the Morton box his progress was halted earning the home side a free kick on the edge of the box but Nicky Clark`s shot was saved by keeper Derek Gaston.
Sean Murdoch`s first serious test came in 15 minutes when Mark Russell won possession 25 yards out and released a powerful effort that the Pars keeper parried before his central defence swept the danger away. The Fifers defended Morton`s first two corners when one followed the other in three minutes later.
A great move and a slice of good fortune led to the Pars opener. Cardle switched on a fine pass from Dean Shiels to Clark on the left wing. The striker brushed aside the muscular attentions of O `Ware to gain ground and pick out Aird on the top of the box. Aird tried a diagonal pass in an effort to find Ryan to his left but the ball was cut out by a defender. The clearance rebounded off his own player and gifted RYAN the opportunity to sink the ball into the bottom left of the `Ton net. 1-0
Shiels piledriver flashed narrowly wide two minutes later and on 26 minutes in the centre of the Morton box, Clark connected with a cross from the right but saw his attempt saved by Gaston.
Aird drove a low shot on target, Gaston held at the second attempt denying Cardle the predator`s goal. The visitors were not out of it by any means, Forbes hit a direct free kick over the bar and the former Pars player had another shot that Murdoch held comfortably.
Then in 34 minutes the Greenock side scored an equaliser. It came from the right where Michael Doyle got in to feed Gary OLIVER the chance to fire home right footed on the angle. 1-1
Cardle and then Aird had crosses cut out as the Pars tried to hit back before the interval. It was Morton who were to have the ball in the net next. There was five minutes to the break when Callum Morris under pressure from Oliver put his keeper under pressure. The ball broke to the edge of the D and Sean Murdoch was yellow carded for his challenge to prevent Andy Murdoch slotting the ball home.
From the resultant free kick Gary Harkins drove the ball at the Pars wall and Oliver was in an offside position as he turned the ball in at the far post. Back at the other end Aird fired just outside the right upright.
The first half ended with the home side marginally ahead on possession, they had managed 8 shots to Morton`s 4 but it was all square in terms of goals.
Half Time: Dunfermline 1 Morton 1
First opportunity of the second half came from a free kick 35 yards out after Harkins had stopped Cardle`s run. Aird lobbed the ball into the Morton box where a defender`s header deflected it behind. The Pars to make anything from this their fifth corner of the evening.
In 54 minutes Aird put in another ball this time from the right but O`Ware headed it down and Ricki Lamie hooked the ball away. Talbot was sent away down the left three minutes later but with three team mates seeking the cross again O`Ware was first to it. Oliver had a shot blocked and then Morris closed down Russell after a weak headed clearance from Ashcroft. In 61 minutes Aird placed a free kick from 30 yards out inches wide of the left upright.
After winning possession just inside the Morton half, Talbot embarked on a run that he punctuated from 25 yards out but on his weaker right foot he was not make in two goals in two games. Ryan and then Clark had efforts that failed to get through the defence. Cardle sent over a free kick that travelled through and next Williamson crashed a cross into the danger area but no one got a touch.
In 69 minutes referee Stephen Finnie awarded the Pars a free kick on the right edge of the box after Aird drove the ball against Russell. The home crowd were convinced the infringement had occurred in the box but the ref and his assistant Kylie Cockburn were not to be persuaded. When Ryan took the setpiece he blasted it through the box.
Just three minutes later Russell`s pass rebounded allowing the Pars to break in numbers but Aird held on to the chance, shooting from an angle as he entered the box only to see Gaston beat the ball away.
Robert Thomson replaced Bob McHugh and almost scored with his first chance. The cross from the right was headed on target and it took a good reaction save from Murdoch to keep the former Par out.
Michael Paton replaced Joe Cardle for the final eight minutes before Clark fed a pass through to Ryan but he dispatched the ball wide left. The Pars sub tried a firm low shot in 87 minutes but was narrowly wide left. Then two minutes later he came close again striking a shot from 15 yards just outside the right post.
The sides took one point each, that took the Fifers to 3rd place, four behind Dundee United at the top and five clear of their opponents.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris (c), Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot: Fraser Aird, Nat Wedderburn, Dean Shiels, Joe Cardle (Michael Paton 83): Nicky Clark (Callum Smith 90), Andy Ryan.
SUBS NOT USED: Lewis Martin, Aaron Splaine, Jean-Yves M`Voto, Cammy Gill (GK).
SCORERS: Ryan (21)
YELLOW CARD: Murdoch (40), Williamson (49)
MORTON: Derek Gaston, Michael Doyle, Tom O`Ware (c), Ricki Lamie, Mark Russell, Gary Harkins (Scott Tiffoney 83), Ross Forbes, Luca Gasparotto, Andy Murdoch, Bob McHugh (Robert Thomson 68), Gary Oliver.
SUBS NOT USED: Darren Barr, Ruaridh Langan, Ben Armour, Ross Doohan (GK).
SCORERS: Oliver (34)
REFEREE: Stephen Finnie
WEATHER: Damp 11C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (home) v Dumbarton, Saturday 25th November 2017, kick off 3.00pm at East End Park
Half time 50/50 draw. Winning ticket number is 16146 for the prize of Â£442