Saturday April 6, 2013
Irn Bru SFL Division 1
MacDonald 5, 22, 60
McMenamin 69 pen
Warren 85 OG
The gulf between the top and bottom of the First Division was demonstrated at Cappielow as Morton strolled to victory against Airdrie.
In an eventful afternoon with seven goals, a penalty and a red card Morton kept up the chase on promotion rivals Partick Thistle - themselves preparing for the Ramsdens Cup Final on Sunday.
As well as Grant Evans being sent off the other negative for the Diamonds is that relegation could potentially be confirmed away to Hamilton on Tuesday night.
Airdrie started the game on the back foot despite Jimmy Boyle sticking with almost the same side that narrowly lost to Falkirk the previous week - the only changes being Ryan Donnelly taking the injured John Boyle's place on the field with Alan Cook returning from injury to make the bench.
In the third minute a push from captain Sean Lynch led to a Morton free-kick that was quickly taken and Colin McMenamin's shot went just wide of the post.
However it didn't take long for the Ton to rectify the mistake as a minute later McMenamin dashed along the left wing and played a cross into Peter MacDonald in the six-yard-box who easily tapped home the opener.
Not long after a kick out from Airdrie keeper Robbie Thomson went awry which MacDonald hit first time from the half way line, bouncing off both posts before young Thomson collected from safety.
Twenty minutes into the match a mistake from Steven Hetherington allowed McMenamin to burst towards goal but he was stopped in his tracks by a last ditch effort from Gregor Buchanan.
History was to repeat itself as after another McMenamin chance, the home side found the net through MacDonald. A corner from Michael Tidser found the striker in the box, and although his initial shot was blocked he managed to get another away - the sweet left foot strike rolling in to make it 2-0.
Nearly half an hour into the game and the visitors finally got their first chance on goal. A Willie McLaren free kick was flicked on by Donnelly and Buchanan's header went just wide.
MacDonald had a chance to complete a first-half hat-trick while Tidser also had a crack on goal which bounced off the post.
It wasn't until the second half though that MacDonald claimed the match ball. Although an initial shot pinged off the crossbar just under an hour in, the ball was cleared right back into his path by the Airdrie defence and MacDonald sealed his hat-trick with a 25-yard shot which Thomson had no chance with.
Morton again hit the woodwork five minutes later when a free kick from Scott Taggart was met by the feet of Mark McLaughlin at the far post, but it was too far for the defender to get on the scoresheet.
Just before the 70 minute mark referee George Salmond deemed Grant Evans to have fouled a Morton player in the box and awarded a penalty - giving the ex-Morton defender what would be his first yellow card of the day.
McMenamin stepped to take the penalty and lashed it into the right top hand corner sending Thomson the wrong way and making the scoreline read a depressing 4-0 for the travelling support.
While some Morton fans started to head for the exits with the score looking comfortable, the Diamonds marched straight back up the pitch from the kick off to spark the game into a contest.
McLaren's pass through the middle found Lynch who nipped ahead of the defence to pull a goal back.
Three minutes later and there was a glimmer of hope for Airdrie's hopes in the game - and in the battle against relegation.
A great run from Hetherington allowed him to get a pass on to McLaren, whose cross from the right was met by the foot of substitute Alan Cook to beat Derek Gaston in the Morton goal.
Evans could have made it 4-3 if his header from a Marc Warren free-kick had not been saved, but it was to be his last positive action in the game.
With ten minutes to go Ton substitute Archie Campbell was running square on goal and was taken down by last man Evans - referee Salmond had no option but to bring out the yellow card again, swiftly followed by a red.
To add insult to injury, six minutes from time a Tidser corner was met by substitute Marc Warren. The defender could only deflect the ball into his own net to make the score 5-2 and ensure the three points stayed in Greenock.
With both the title race and relegation battle soon to be decided, the Diamonds fans might take comfort in the fact that their fate could soon be decided with a rebuilding operation a little way down the road.
Douglas Barrie at Cappielow.
Photographs © David Bell / Morton FC. Click to view full size.