0 - 3
0 - 3
Thomas O'Ware (35)
Scott Tiffoney (47)
Jack Iredale (80)
Idris Kadded for Scott McDonald (60)
Craig Slater for Billy King (66)
Logan Martin for Thomas Mikkelsen (76)
Mark Russell for Frank Ross (73)
Bob McHugh for Scott Tiffoney (87)
Lewis Strapp for Gary Oliver (90)
Paul Quinn (59)
Idris Kadded (69)
Gary Harkins (49)
Frank Ross (66)
Barry Cook (Referee)
United lost further ground on St Mirren at the top of the Championship with a comprehensive 3-0 home defeat against Morton.
The pressure was already on United before the game even started, with St Mirren’s 2-1 win over Dunfermline the previous night ensuring that United started this game 11 points from the Championship lead, albeit with two games in hand. A win for United was therefore essential if they wanted to keep any realistic hopes of winning the title alive. However, the game was to end in bitter disappointment with a desperately poor defeat against Jim Duffy’s team.
Csaba Laszlo made only one change from the previous week’s Scottish Cup win over Alloa Athletic, with the fit again Stewart Murdoch coming back into the team, with Craig Slater being dropped to the bench. Murdoch played at right back with Willo Flood going into midfield.
Any hopes that United would take the momentum from that win into this game looked doomed as United were rather fortunate not to lose a goal in the first two minutes of the game. Aberdeen loanee Frank Ross twisted and turned on the edge of the United box before digging out a cross that Gary Oliver headed into the net from close range to seemingly put the visitors ahead. However, United’s blushes were spared by the sight of the assistant referee raising his flag for offside, although the decision looked very tight. United should have capitalised on their good fortune a few minutes later when a corner from Billy King was met at the far post by Thomas Mikkelsen who was standing only a couple of yards out. Mikkelsen bundled the ball towards goal, but his effort hit the outside of the right-hand post and slithered wide.
The first half hour of the game was fairly uneventful from then on, with Morton having the better possession, although neither side were able to create all that much. But on 35 minutes, the visitors took what was a deserved lead, with United’s vulnerability from set pieces again being exposed. Michael Tidser won a free kick on the right-hand side. He took the kick himself, and floated a ball into the box which Thomas O’Ware was able to head home from a couple of yards out with the United defence looking rather flat footed. Harry Lewis had to look sharp on 42 minutes to prevent the visitors from doubling their lead, as he dived to parry an effort at goal from Frank Ross, as the winger drifted in from the flank to meet a Michael Doyle cross.
There was a palpable sense of relief that United were only one goal down at the break, and the hope was that half time would give the United players the chance to collect themselves and reorganise. However, any aspirations that United could get back into the game were destroyed a mere two minutes into the second half when the visitors doubled their lead with a stunning goal. There did not seem to be any danger for the United defence as Scott Tiffoney picked up a pass from Gary Oliver and drove towards goal. However, the teenager launched a thunderous drive from 25 yards out which rocketed into the top left-hand corner of the net, leaving Harry Lewis helpless as the ball flew past him.
Former Dundee midfielder Gary Harkins was imperious all afternoon, as he was given the freedom of Tannadice to control play from the heart of the Morton midfield. Harkins almost added a third goal just short of the hour mark with a trademark free kick which Harry Lewis did well to save. A run down the left-hand side soon afterwards rather summed up the afternoon’s proceedings as he ran down the United right, firstly by outmuscling United substitute Idris Kadded before running past Stewart Murdoch. He followed this by nutmegging Willo Flood before nonchalantly sailing past a rather static Mark Durnan. However, his cross into the box could not be converted by any Morton players.
Morton were well in charge of the game, and sealed the victory with a third goal ten minutes from time. Jack Iredale picked up a backwards pass from Mark Russell on the left-hand side, and again there did not appear to be much in the way of danger initially. However, the left back surged forward, bursting between Willo Flood and Craig Slater, past Mark Durnan and then Paul Quinn, before confidently slotting the ball in at the far post past Harry Lewis. It was the Australian left back’s first goal for Morton, and it is unlikely he will ever score a better one.
Emphasising how disappointing the result was, it was United’s first home defeat against the Greenock side since 1978, as well as being only the third home defeat United had suffered since their relegation to the Championship. It meant that United were left still 11 points behind St Mirren, now with only one game in hand. Csaba Laszlo expressed his anger at the result and the performance by locking the players in the dressing room for over an hour after the game as the defeat was dissected.
Match report written by Derek Keilloh
|Harry Lewis (GK)||20||27||-||27||-|
|Idris Kadded (sub)||19||2||-||2||-|
|Craig Slater (sub)||23||4||-||4||-|
|Logan Martin (sub)||20||1||-||1||-|