IT WASN’T for the lack of trying but for all they huffed and puffed Morton couldn’t force their way into the Premiership playoffs despite their heart in mouth 2-1 win over Cove Rangers.
Robbie Muirhead’s second half wonder strike, if you could see it, looked to see Ton sneak into fourth place but for some late drama in the Highlands that saw west coast rivals Ayr United leapfrog the Cappielow men into the top four right at the death as the fog wrecked havoc in Aberdeenshire.
Morton weren’t taking anything to chance as they powered themselves in front inside two minutes. Jai Quitongo did well to take on Shay Logan and win a corner on the right-hand side and Calvin Miller did exceptionally well to pick out Jack Baird through the haar and the towering defender made no mistake in heading beyond Scott Fox, who saw the ball flash past him before he could blink.
Cove couldn’t muster much of a go of it, not that you could see anyway with the sickness of the fog that enveloped the Balmoral Stadium. But their best chance of the half came with four minutes to go until the half time interval. Declan Glass did well to break between the lines of the Ton midfield and defence to pick up the ball from Megginson’s pass. He drove down through the middle of the park but saw a weak effort go into the clutches of Brian Schwake.
But he’d make amends on the cusp of half-time as he took advantage of the conditions and blind-sided the Ton goalie from all of 35 yards. The ball broke kindly for the diminutive playmaker in the Ton half before doing well to turn and unleash a rasping effort into the top left corner as the ball arrowed through the haar, meaning nobody in the stadium could see it.
And despite even more confusion at the end of the half time interval, where Craig Napier called the players back in initially as the weather continued to deteriarate, Ton were handed not one, but two hammer blows in the space of four opening second half minutes.
Firstly, club captain Grant Gillespie was forced off through injury and then to add insult to injury, Cameron Blues was given his marching orders with 49-minutes on the clock for a wild lunge on Morgyn Neill which saw him given his second booking, with the first being lost in the fog.
A goal celebration from the Ton faithful with an hour gone looked to spur the ten men of Dougie Imrie, and the wind in their battered sails. Scott McGill’s strike at Stark’s Park saw Raith go 2-1 up and had Ton knowing that a goal would put them back into fourth place, but it would be no mean feat if they were to pull it off.
Robbie Muirhead would then use the fog to his advantage and try to force his and Morton’s way into the playoffs. Some good running from King saw him drive over halfway and play the ball into his teammate’s feet who turned and let rip from a similar position to Glass in the first half and he found the bottom left corner with the keeper unable to track the ball with little over 15-minutes to play.
And it looked like luck would finally be on Ton’s side but for the earth shattering news that there’s been another equaliser in Kirkcaldy, as Partick moved back into the driving seat of their own destiny.
The heartstrings were taking a pounding and there was yet another cheer inside the final ten minutes as Inverness managed to pull one back in the Highland capital, but it looked like all of Morton’s efforts were to be in vein as Mark McKenzie’s late winner for Ayr United saw them snatch that fourth spot right at the death.
But there would be one last twist of fate in Cove bay as the travelling support were once more back up in hysterics as news filtered through of another Inverness equaliser, but Austin Samuels’ last gasp effort was ruled out for offside.
Cove Rangers(4-4-1-1) Fox, Logan, Reynolds, Neill, Ross, Vigurs, Scully, Longstaff, McIntosh(Dunne,19,Weston,63), Glass, Megginson
Subs not used: Gourlay, Bangala, Dunne
Morton(4-2-3-1) Schwake, Grimshaw, Baird, O’Connor, Miller, Blues, Gillespie(Pignaitello,47), A.Crawford(King,56), R.Crawford, Quitongo(McGrattan,56), Muirhead
Subs not used: Green, Pignatiello, Ambrose, Garrity, McGrattan, King
Scorer: Baird(2) Muirhead(73)