Scrappy Defeat at Cappielow
The Rovers arrived in Greenock looking to build on last week’s good performance. As the travelling fans munched on bacon rolls they noted one change with Spence coming in up front for Clarke. Pat missing out due to injury, ex-Rover Willie Dyer lined up for the Ton.
Within 20 seconds of the start Brian Graham was penalised for raising an elbow when trying to win a header. Ex-cricketer George Salmond brandished a yellow card. Archie Campbell hit a shot on the turn from the edge of the box but Hill had closed him down and the effort was blocked wide. David Smith showed his pace getting down the right side and his cross was knocked to Graham at the edge of the box. Big Brian however shot over.
In only the 4th minute a quick free kick saw Campbell have a free header which McGurn did brilliantly to push over. His reflexes making up for a slack defensive moment. At the other end a Rovers corner ping-ponged around the 6 yard box but Smith’s 18 yard shot went over. Morton nearly capitalised on Campbell’s un-penalised foul on Hill but Thomson did well to block Weatherston’s shot. This was not the first nor last time that referee Salmond was to cause consternation among the travelling fans.
In the 16th minute Malone played in Stuart Anderson in the middle of the park. The midfield man used the space to fire a shot at the top corner from 27 yards which Gaston, the Ton keeper, did well to hold. This was another good shift from Anderson with him using the ball wisely. Stirling shot wide then Graham and Spence combined but Brian’s shot from the edge of the box went wide. Morton had a flurry of activity without creating a chance but in the 24th minute the Rovers created the best chance of the match from open play. Smith found Graham wide and his low cut back found Smith in space and from 12 yards he tried to slot the ball home. Gaston was beaten and the Rovers support were disappointed to see the ball slide the wrong side of the post. Walker’s subtle chip went just over moments later.
Taggart Morton’s number 2 was lucky only to be booked after he put a boot just below Spence’s throat. Both had been moving fast and Greig was fortunate not to be badly hurt. The ex-Hibs trainee did not have a good game, this was summed up by him tripping over the ball with no-one near him in the second half, it can safely be said Taggart was murder!
In the 37thminute the Rovers scored. A deep corner was headed towards the far post by Hill was touched in by Malone.
Salmond however blew his whistle and gave Morton a free kick. It wasn’t for offside as they had two men on the line. In the 39th minute the whistler chose to ignore McLaughlin felling Graham with an elbow delivered with rather more vigour than the Raith man had been carded for.
Weatherston had an opportunistic effort go wide then the Raith support met Hamill being penalised for being fouled by Bachirou with derisive laughter. In the 44th minute several Rovers players made somewhat fortunate contacts with the ball in the Morton box which ended with their fifth corner of the half. It would be best described as accidental brilliance or good fortune depending on the viewers perspective. Big McLaughlin saw treatment for what looked like a muscle problem just before the half and was hampered for the remainder of the match.
In the 47th Weatherston – who was up front in Peter MacDonald’s place – dived in front of Mensing as the ball sailed well over their heads. Tidser shot past from 25 yards then Graham’s persistence won the ball on the home by-line, moving towards goal his angled drive was well blocked away by the alert Gaston.
More Graham hard work resulted in Spence shooting on the turn but his effort went wide. In the 61st minute Morton were awarded their first corner of the second half when home midfielder Bachirou touched the ball out. McGurn was heavily fouled and on the ground when a Morton shot from the edge of the box flashed over the bar. Dave received treatment and took a minute or two to get his breath back. Fortunately the shot was wayward as it would clearly have counted for the home side.
As both sides continued to huff and puff Walker headed Thomson’s cross wide. Then the only goal came with a rare moment of quality. A long ball forward was headed away by the Raith defence, Stirling found himself with a bit of space and shot from 30 yards. It went past McGurn’s dive and nestled in the net, a great strike from that distance. He was given time and space to shoot but most of the time efforts from there do not hit the target. A few minutes later a cross into the Raith box was half blocked and paused temptingly on the 6 yard line, McGurn however got to it first.
Youngster Spence at the back post intelligently lobbed the ball across goal but there were no red shirts following up as the Ton defence were pulled out of shape. Dougie Hill made a bid to play left winger with good footwork wide and his great cross was headed tamely at the relieved Gaston by Graham.
McLaughlin shoved a Raith defender aside unpunished at a Ton corner in front of the still grumpy Raith support. What few remaining charitable thoughts held by the visiting fans for the referee disappeared when he choose to ignore a clear hand ball by Morton’s Reid at the edge of his box. His raised arm stopped the ball going past him into the danger zone. Mensing – who’d put in another good performance – was booked moments later for what was adjudged to be a foul.
Willie Dyer had his name taken for kicking the ball away and then Salmond rightly changed a decision after the lineman flagged the other way. David Graham however disagreed, held onto the ball and a fracas broke out as the ex-Par moaned about the injustice of it all… Ex-Rover Dyer looking on from the other side of the pitch will have felt hard done by having been booked only moments before when his teammate went unpunished.
Hill was booked after winning another header and then with the Rovers pushing on home Trialist (16) broke forward but he’ll have been very disappointed with his cross. Stirling was booked in the 90th minute for using a handful of sub Grant Anderson’s shirt to stop him scampering away with the ball. The last chance came when a half clearance fell for Thomson who’s overhead kick from the edge of the box wasn’t far over.
This was a scrappy game which saw the ball in the air more than both sides would have wished. Neither side dominated and the game was influenced by a few incidents and won by a very rare moment of quality. The program included an interview with the referee Salmond in which he stated the Pars Rovers league ‘decider’ was his most memorable game. Some Rovers fans however seem to look back on his appearances before them with no such relish.
Report – John Mainland, Pictures – Eddie Doig
Live match updates by: Chris Hynd
Photos copyright Eddie Doig and Michelle Fairful