Pars battle to victory over Morton
Dunfermline jumped in to second place in the Scottish Championship table after a 1-0 win over Gus MacPherson’s Greenock Morton. Jake Gray reports.
Dunfermline manager Stevie Crawford made four changes to the side that was defeated by Queen of the South last time out. Declan McManus, Lewis Mayo, Josh Edwards and Kerr McInroy dropped out, with Euan Murray, Aaron Comrie, Scott Banks and Iain Wilson coming in to the starting 11.
In the opposing dugout, Gus MacPherson, taking charge of Morton for the first time, made just one change to the team that beat Inverness on Tuesday night, with new signing Stephen McGinn coming in to replace the injured Kyle Jacobs.
The Pars started the livelier of the two and had a good chance early on, as Dom Thomas picked the ball up and fired at goal, but his effort was saved well by Aidan McAdams in the Morton goal.
The visitors had the lion’s share of possession in the opening quarter of an hour, but the early chances fell the way of the Pars. Scott Banks picked the ball up on the right flank and did well to cut inside and get his shot away, but his effort curled agonisingly wide.
Just five minutes later, Banks was involved again for the home side. Fraser Murray picked the ball up in the middle of the park and played a sublime through ball to Banks, who rounded McAdams and was brought down by the Morton keeper. Referee Steven Kirkland pointed to the spot, giving the Pars a golden chance to open the scoring.
Craig Wighton stepped up, but his effort was well saved by McAdams, who reacted well to tip the rebound onto the crossbar and keep his team level.
The Ton did well to limit the Pars to very few chances for the remainder of the first half. However, Wighton made amends for his penalty miss, getting on the end of a Thomas cross to nod home and put his side ahead just one minute before half time.
Just two minutes into the second half, the away side could have been level. A defensive error by Paul Watson allowed Kazaiah Sterling in on goal, but Steven Whittaker rushed back with a vital last-ditch tackle to deny the Tottenham Hotspur loanee.
Gary Oliver replaced Reece Lyon and almost made an immediate impact for the Ton. He got on the end of a ball played into the Pars box but was unable to get his header on target.
Just moments later, Aidan Nesbitt had another chance for Morton. A long ball caught out the Pars back-line and Nesbitt found himself in on goal, but he failed to keep his composure and fired wide of the mark.
Dunfermline almost doubled their advantage in the 74th minute when Aidan McAdams produced a fine double save to deny both Comrie and Banks amid a goalmouth scramble.
The remainder of the match played out with little of note and as Kirkland blew his whistle for the final time, Dunfermline saw their stock rise, now sitting second in the league table.
Stevie Crawford’s men held on for all three points in a tough test and the Pars boss praised the performance of his team:
“I thought our performance was dogged and we could have scored more goals. The big positive for me was that, as the game went on, there was boys on the park who probably weren’t feeling great, but we didn’t show any signs to Morton – they would have jumped on that.
“Morton made it difficult for us, but we looked like we were going to score goals today. We closed the door at the back as well to restrict them to very few chances. There was a lot of character shown by everyone involved today.”
Gus MacPherson shared his frustration after his side failed to take anything from the game:
“We’re disappointed to lose the game. We made one or two errors in the first half but other than that it was evenly matched.
“Dunfermline have recruited for a number of years and have a settled squad there. I’ve only been in the door a couple of days and have tried to get a few points across. I’m reasonably pleased with how we competed.”
The Pars now sit second in the table, leapfrogging Raith Rovers who dropped points away to Inverness on Friday night. Morton are sixth, just one point above Arbroath, who occupy the relegation play-off spot. Both sides are at home in their next fixture – Dunfermline are set to welcome Inverness to East End Park, while Morton will head back to Cappielow to face off against Queen of the South.