Saturday 22 October 2011

Livingston 1 - 1 Greenock Morton
HT (1 - 1)

Greenock Morton were the next opponents to visit the Braidwood Motor Company Stadium on league duty. Allan Moore’s men had been on the end of back-to-back defeats against Partick Thistle and Hamilton respectively so were keen to bounce back with a win.

Gary Bollan handed Mark Fotheringham and Maurice Ross their home debuts with the latter replacing Kyle Jacobs at right back. Keaghan Jacobs also returned to the squad, taking a place on the bench after missing the last few weeks with an injury.

Livingston created the first opportunity of the match from a Fotheringham free kick. His low, in-swinging cross was flicked on by Iain Russell but Craig Barr couldn’t get the ball under control and could only watch as the ball ricocheted off him and out for a goal kick. Moments later, Morton launched an attack up the other end and were denied, what they thought, should have been a penalty. David O’Brien drove at Jason Talbot and as he cut in from the wing and into the box, he fell to the ground. Talbot had made a challenge for the ball but little, if not no contact appeared to be made and given the lack of support from his Morton team-mates, O’Brien was quick to get up and play-on, managing to somehow evade a caution for diving from referee Kevin Clancy.

O’Brien was involved in Morton’s next attack, and this time, he was to provide a more convincing outcome. Stefan Scougall was caught in possession in his own half, allowing Fouad Bachirou and Peter Weatherson to link up and play O’Brien in. This time, the forward only needed one touch as he rifled the ball off the underside of the bar and into Andy McNeil’s goal despite a last ditch effort to make a block from Craig Barr.

Despite falling a goal behind, the Lions reacted well and looked keen to quickly get back on level terms. Fotheringham had two chances from free-kicks in almost identical positions, the first of which was comfortably saved by Matthew McGinlay in the Morton goal, and the second which had a bit more bite in it and forced McGinlay to top round the post.

Despite not having any luck with these free kicks, a set piece was to see the Lions grab an equaliser and a route back into the game. A Morton attack was broken down by Ross who calmly passed the ball out of danger and sent Scougall on his way. The young midfielder played a one-two with Iain Russell before lofting an excellent pass in behind the Morton back-line into the path of Marc McNulty. With his defence all but beaten, McGinlay made the decision to race from his line but he didn’t reach the ball quick enough and instead, sent McNulty through the air. A penalty was awarded but the referee didn’t deem the chance to be a clear goal scoring opportunity and only booked the ‘keeper. Iain Russell collected the ball and made no mistake, despatching the ball into the bottom right hand corner to take his tally to ten in all competitions this season.

In the same way that Livi reacted after Morton’s goal, the side from Greenock pressed from kick-off, looking to regain the lead. Andrew Graham’s dangerous cross into the box was flicked just beyond the post and out for a corner by Russell who’d came back to help out the defence. Graham, again, fired in a teasing cross, this time finding Bachirou but his first touch let him down and McNeil was quick to pounce and get the ball to safety.

Into the second-half and O’Brien really should have doubled his, and Morton’s tally for the day. A one-two with Weatherson sent him clean through on goal with only McNeil to beat but his shot was excellently saved by the big ‘keeper before Ross cleared the rebound.

Morton were really starting to get on top of the game with Paul Di Giacomo dictating a lot of the play in the middle of the park. The ex-Kilmarnock player was at the heart of Morton’s next attack, showing some great footwork to beat Scougall and Keaghan Jacobs before slipping the ball to Bachirou but the Frenchman fired wide of the post.

The Lions did start to edge back into the game and another Fotheringham free-kick was blocked, this time by the head of Grant Evans as the ball looked to be heading in the direction of the top-corner. Livi were then desperately unlucky not to take the lead. A long pass forward from Fotheringham found Jacobs on the right wing and he fired the ball into the box. Iain Russell got there first and flicked the ball back into the path of McNulty who took a touch before rolling the ball under the ‘keeper but not past Evans, who had wisely positioned himself on the line and knocked the ball clear. Scougall got on the end of the clearance though, crossing the ball back into the box where McNulty collected and had a shot at goal but his effort deflected to the edge of the area, teeing up Jacobs who’s left-foot shot beat the ‘keeper but clipped the outside of the post and out for a goal-kick.

This frantic spell of Livi pressure was nearly all undone as Ross’s pass-back looked to be too short, allowing substitute Archie Campbell in but McNeil came haring off his line and made a brilliant sliding tackle to prevent the Morton forward having a shot at goal.

With the clock ticking down, Morton had the last real chance of the game. Di Giacomo’s corner was headed goal wards and Campbell, who was positioned right in front of McNeil, flicked the ball just yards from goal but the Livi stopper reacted brilliantly to tip the ball off the line.

A hard-fought point for the Lions who recorded their seventh draw in ten league matches this season.

Livingston: McNeil, Ross (Ky.Jacobs 78), C.Barr, Watson, Talbot, Sinclair (Kn.Jacobs 64), Scougall, Fotheringham, B.Barr, McNulty, Russell (Deuchar 71)
Subs not used: Boulding, Jamieson

Morton: McGinley, Graham, Smyth (Campbell 59), Evans, Forsyth, Di Giacomo, McCann, McGeouch, O'Brien, Weatherson (MacDonald 78), Bachirou
Subs not used: Stewart, Little, Jackson

Att: 1740

Ref: K Clancy

Match report by Dave Black