Greenock Morton 3-2 Falkirk: Rangers win is followed by league defeat
By MATTHEW HAROLD at Cappielow
FALKIRK manager Steven Pressley was left fuming by what he claims were bad decisions that saw his side go down to defeat to Greenock Morton.
The Bairns boss was raging after referee Crawford Allan chopped off goals from both Darren Dods and Farid El Alagui as Pressley’s side failed to push on from their shock win over Rangers on Wednesday to close the gap at the top of the table.
Pressley said of the officials performance: “I don’t want to deflect anything away from Morton, but I genuinely believe we scored two legitimate goals, I thought the Darren Dods goal is without doubt a goal on the stoke of half time and I think Farid’s goal is without doubt a goal.
“At two crucial moments today decisions have gone against us and in the end they’ve turned the game.
That goal sparked the visitors into life and they got back on level terms as a flowing passing move ended with Kallum Higginbotham playing the ball over the top for the onrushing David Weatherson, who got in behind the Morton defence to slot the ball by Colin Stewart for the equaliser.
Ten minutes later Falkirk went into the lead as Higginbotham was once again provider, as he set up Blair Alston, who drilled a shot which Stewart in the Morton goal failed to properly deal with, allowing the ball to eventually find the back of the home side’s net.
Just before half time the visitors thought that they had claimed a third as Darren Dods got on the end of a Mark Millar free kick, but referee Allan adjudged that Rhys Bennett had fouled Andy Jackson inside the box.
After receiving a tongue lashing from their manager at the break the home side came out with a renewed purpose as Bennett brought down Jackson, who had raced into the box, allowed MacDonald to step up from the penalty spot and drill the ball home to put the sides level.
Then, ten minutes later they went into the lead as Fitzharris drilled a free kick from the left wing onto the head of Jackson, who directed the ball beyond McGovern to help the Cappielow side go back in front.
With just under a quarter of an hour left the visitors had their second goal of the game chalked off as a cross from Millar found Dods, who headed the ball towards goal, with El Alagui coming in at the back post to knock the ball home, but unfortunately for the Bairns striker the linesman had adjudged that he was offside and it ultimately meant that his side would leave Greenock with nothing.
After the game Morton boss Allan Moore spoke of the performance, saying: “Fair credit to Falkirk, we’ve scored a good goal to start, I thought we were in command, then they’ve played some really good football and scored two really good goals and we said at half time that [El Alagui] was causing us problems up front because we were losing too many first headers trying to deal with him but he was beating us, so we told them to let him win the headers and pick up the scraps and Andy Graham had an easier second half than he did in the first half.”
Moore was delighted with the performance of his front pairing, saying: “With the two strikers we’ve got, that’s why we brought them to the club, they’ve pulled it out of the bag again, when we got beat 4-1 at Queen of the South last week Peter MacDonald was brilliant for us and today, again he was absolutely magnificent linking up with Andy Jackson.
“I was tempted to put in Archie Campbell because of his pace, but because we’re at home and it’s a good pitch and they’ve formed a great partnership, Archie and Peter [Weatherson] have just got to wait their turn.”
He added: “I actually missed the third goal because I was talking to one of the boys and then I turned round and went ‘yes’ but seemingly it was a great ball in from [Sean] Fitzharris who is another bonus for us because Sean from the halfway line forward, he puts good balls in the box and his set plays are good and we’re not expecting him to do much going back.”
The Cappielow boss had to do without Paul Di Giacomo, with Moore saying of the wingers injury: “He had a spasm in his back at training yesterday and he said his was up at half six this morning, so that’s made me decide to change it and we knew we’d be open, with Fitzharris on one side and [David] O’Brien on the other side, we thought that they could do a bit of damage, but to be honest we got cut open for the second goal because we’ve not got naturally defensive wingers.”
He was also forced to do without the services of influential midfielder Michael Tidser, with Moore worried about his injury, saying: “He got a scan yesterday, we not had the results back, but the way we’re talking he could be out for up to six weeks, so that means Darren [McGeough] Fouad [Bachirou] and Mark Smyth will have to step up to the mark in the middle of the park.”
Moore however was delighted with the boost that the victory gave his side, saying: “It’s a great psychological boost for us, to go 2-1 down and obviously they push and have scored a lot of late goals in the league, so for us to get a goal, then get in front and the way we defended and with the luck we got with the offside, but we’re six points ahead of them and that’s a big factor in this league.”
And finally he praised the home support, with the crowd up by over 600 from the Greenock side’s previous Cappielow outing against Ayr United, saying: “I thought there’d be a decent crowd because Falkirk won during the week and were hopefully that our fans wouldn’t get too much on our back from getting beat 4-1 at Queen of the South.
“If they come and see that every week, it’s good football and it’s good to watch and as long as we score one more than the opposition and that’s what I said in my team talk, if we score one more than Falkirk, I’d be delighted.”
Greenock Morton: Stewart, Graham, Forsyth, Evans, McCaffrey (McCann, 63) Bachirou, Fitzharris (McGeough, 84) Smyth, MacDonald, Jackson (Campbell, 83) O’Brien
Subs Not Used: Weatherson, McGinley (GK)
Falkirk: McGovern, Duffie, Scobbie, Dods, Wallace (Bennett, 29) Murdoch, Alston (Fulton, 76) Millar, El Alagui, Higginbotham, Weatherson (Sibbald, 59)
Subs Not Used: Graham, Bowman (GK)
Man of the Match: Peter MacDonald (Greenock Morton)
Referee: Crawford Allan