Morton: The Re-Match
Rovers earned a deserved share of the points at Cappielow.
The Rovers made one change from last Saturday, Dyer came in after his Cup ban and Ellis was on the bench. Ton made three changes to their starting line-up and a youthful Lewis Hawke was on the bench. The lad was born in Kirkcaldy and I’m assuming he must be ex-Rover Warren Hawke’s son – those who remember his dad being a good young player for Rovers will now feel rather old…
The reasonable Rovers support settled into the cramped stand fortified by bacon rolls, and a few others preferred to watch the game, silently, from the home terracing in the hope that their cover wouldn’t be blown if Rovers scored. The Morton programme was light in weight but had rather more to it than Ayr’s effort. It lacked a player profile section which could have revealed gems like Allan Moore loves Tizer or Peter MacDonald likes the early films of Wolfgang Peterson.
The game started at quite a pace and Baird’s first minute ball into the box came back to him but his shot was knocked past. From the corner Baird had a free header which he put wide with Stewart in the home goal watching helpless.
In the 4th minute Baird again had a headed chance which was blocked. In only the 5th minute Raith again threatened Casalinuovo shooting low from 18 yards which Stewart did well to touch wide. Morton tried to capitalise on a slack ball in midfield but Murray mopped up. Baird got onto a head flick and put another shot wide trying a different tactic his next contribution was cross that was headed over by a scrambling defender. After only 12 minutes there had been seven corners with Raith looking more threatening from their four.
The Rovers were working hard but the hosts had a good chance in the 19th minute when a ball went to the front post where MacDonald was foiled by what looked like a combination of the post and McGurn. Another good period of Raith passing saw Casalinuovo racing in to shoot from just outside the 6 yard box but, under pressure, the Argentinian hit the side-netting and, a minute later, Clarke teed up Baird whose effort was wayward from just inside the box.
Around the half hour mark the visitors had a good spell of possession and pressure without really carving out a good chance. Bachirou was doing well in the middle for the home side but their support was a little restless. This was added to when Baird and Clarke almost combined to free the wee man in the middle of the park.
Baird was on the receiving end of a dangerous arm to the face from Weatherston in front of the away support but the Ref didn’t have a good angle to see it. Morton had a late flurry and a couple of corners just before the half and, despite a striker finding space at the back post, it remained scoreless at the break.
The second half was delayed by the late arrival of the officials. Morton won a quick corner but McGurn collected a header easily. The Rovers responded and Dyer did well skipping along the by-line but his driven cross was blocked away. The fleet-footed Campbell forced a save then Murray put the ball out. Baird picked up where he left off and another shot of his was knocked past for a corner. The ball was swung in by Hamill and Grant Murray headed at goal from 14 yards past a ruck of players, the header seemed to lack pace but Graham, who tried to clear, only managed to slice air, and the ball slipped past him, and Stewart, for the opening goal.
Again the Rovers were one up. A dangerous ball into the box eluded Baird as they looked for a quick second goal. In front of the Rovers support MacDonald made a rash studs-up challenge on Donaldson, luckily for the home man the officials did not have such a good view.
Chasing the equaliser a ball for O’Brien was over hit, fortunate for Rovers as the linesman had failed to flag for offside. The Ton wide man then saw yellow having kicked the ball away after rightly not being awarded a throw in. In the 63rd minute the ball hit the referee and to the Rovers supports relief this week Morton only got a throw in. However moments later Campbell did well getting to the by-line and his low ball across was met by O’Brien who put the ball into the net from 4 yards.
Almost instantly the Rovers had a corner which Murray headed towards Baird. His well struck drive was tipped over by Stewart whose fingers will have stung after the save of the match.
Tidser had an effort that was no threat then as time moved on O’Brien had a shot saved low.
In the 75th minute Allan Moore’s bottle went, well he or another of his bench ended up throwing a bottle of water onto the pitch. The ref had a word about the home staff’s inability to hold their drink!
Pat Clarke was felled in the centre circle as he turned away from his marker as both sides looked for the winner. The home side were trying to use Campbell’s pace and some will have been surprised at his substitution in the 83rd minute. McDonald chased Davidson as he ushered a ball out and again he raised the ire of the visiting fans kicking out at Iain. As time ran out Dyer put in another cross that was cleared, before Hawke came on for his debut though he didn’t touch the ball.
The spoils were shared but the Rovers put in a good performance, played some decent football, working hard and doing well. As regards new arrivals Pat Clarke and big Damian, the omens are good!
Written by John Mainland
Pictures by Jim Foy