By George Cran
Allan Johnston’s Queen of the South continued their 100% start to the season with a hard-fought extra-time victory over Greenock Morton at Cappielow in the Ramsdens Cup Second Round.
Goals from Mark Durnan and Nicky Clark saw the Doonhamers progress to the Third Round after falling behind to Michael Tidser’s fierce drive.
A tight first half saw the home side do most of the pressing without really threatening the Queen of the South defence and it took twenty minutes for the first real effort of note.
Morton’s David O’Brien cut in from his wide role to fire a shot towards the far corner of the net but Lee Robinson in the Queen of the South goal dealt with it easily.
It was the away side’s turn to threaten next as the ball fell to Gavin Reilly who laid the ball off to his player-manager Allan Johnston to play in Dan Carmichael on the edge of the Morton area but the diminutive winger didn’t catch the shot and the goalkeeper blocked with his feet.
That was Queens only effort of note in the first half as Morton pressed the play and won a number of corners which were dealt with ably by the Queen of the South defence.
The Queens defence were caught napping on forty minutes, however, as they allowed Michael Tidser the space to pick his spot and fire Greenock Morton into the lead. It was a fine strike that gave Lee Robinson no chance.
Morton had just about edged the first half and Allan Johnston had his work cut out to rally his troops to get back into the game.
Queen of the South looked brighter after the half-time break but it was Morton who created the first opportunity as the ball was cut back to Peter Weatherson on the edge of area. His scuffed shot was heading into the corner but Lee Robinson was on hand to push the ball around the post.
The away side started to take control of the cup-tie after this and began to create chances through the bright play of Dan Carmichael and Nicky Clark. They forced an equaliser through a Chris Mitchell free-kick which deflected before being turned in by centre-back Mark Durnan. It was the former St Johnstone man’s first goal for the club since signing at the start of the season.
The Queen of the South players were looking confident and almost took the lead just minutes later as substitute Derek Lyle had two goal-bound efforts blocked as the Morton defence started to wobble.
After surviving ten minutes of pressure Morton broke out with Michael Tidser flicking the ball over Stephen McKenna’s head before playing a through-ball inside Kevin Holt in the Queens defence for David Graham to strike into the side-netting from an angle.
Both teams were going for the win but it was the home side who made the better chances. Firstly, a flicked header by Mark McLaughlin looked to be heading into the far corner before Lee Robinson spread himself to push the ball clear.
Minutes later Peter Weatherson had the chance to win the match as the referee awarded Morton a soft-looking penalty with just five minutes remaining. The former Queens man saw his firmly hit shot saved by Robinson before David Graham’s rebound effort was also pushed over the bar by the goalkeeper. It was a fantastic piece of goalkeeping and saved the tie for the Doonhamers.
Neither side could force a winner and the match went into extra-time.
Extra-time began slowly with the players starting to look tired but both sides created real chances to take the lead. Queens’ player-manager Allan Johnston drove at the Morton defence and found Derek Lyle’s feet inside the area but the striker’s effort flew inches past the far post before Peter Weatherson saw his header crack against the Queen of the South crossbar. Ryan McGuffie then headed Archie Campbell’s effort off the line.
Into the second half of extra-time and Queens took the lead within two minutes through Nicky Clark’s header. Ryan McGuffie backed up a Queens attack and volleyed the ball back into the penalty area where Clark was ready to meet it with a diving header. Derek Gaston in the Morton goal will feel he could have done better as the ball seemed to go through his outstretched hands.
Queens brought on young players Dan Orsi and David Hopkirk in an effort to close out the game with fresh legs and succeeded in doing so as the home side struggled to create any sort of chance in the final ten minutes.
Queen of the South held on to progress to the Third Round of the Ramsdens Cup, extending their winning run to four games and continuing their 100% start to the season.
Greenock Morton: 1 Derek Gaston, 2 Scott Taggart, 3 Jordan Halsman (subbed 115 mins), 4 Craig Reid (subbed 73 mins), 5 Kevin Rutkiewicz, 6 Mark McLaughlin, 7 Stephen Stirling (off 79 mins), 8 Michael Tidser, 9 Tony Wallace, 10 Peter Weatherson, 11 David O’Brien, subs: 12 Archie Campbell (on 79 mins), 14 David Graham (on 73 mins), 15 Kyle Wilkie (on 115 mins), 16 Thomas O’Ware, 20 Alan Combe (gk)
Queen of the South: 1 Lee Robinson, 2 Ryan McGuffie, 3 Kevin Holt, 4 Mark Durnan, 5 Chris Higgins, 6 Chris Mitchell, 7 Daniel Carmichael, 8 Stephen McKenna, 9 Gavin Reilly(subbed 68mins) , 10 Nicky Clark (subbed 118 mins), 11 Allan Johnston (subbed 110 mins), subs: 14 Derek Lyle (on 68 mins), 15 Daniel Orsi (on 110 mins),16 Steven Black, 17 David Hopkirk(on 118 mins) , 12 Jim Atkinson (gk)
Referee: George Salmond, Assistants: John McCrossan, Mark Ainslie