Falkirk 0 Morton 1: Advantage Morton in Hibs’ chasing pack

Ross Forbes and Tom Taiwo. Picture Michael Gillen.
Ross Forbes and Tom Taiwo. Picture Michael Gillen.
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Morton took advantage of Hibs’ failure to win by cutting the lead at the top of the Championship, at Falkirk’s expense.

Kudus Oyenuga’s looping header 11 minutes from time gave the Greenock side three points in the jostling for position at the top and a defeat for Bairns has surely consigned Peter Houston’s side to contest where they finish in the play-off positions.

John Baird went close with this effort on the stroke of half-time. Pic by Michael Gillen.

John Baird went close with this effort on the stroke of half-time. Pic by Michael Gillen.

The TV cameras were in town and they will be again when the additional games come around and with Hibs stuttering, this was a chance to avoid the additional games altogther and really put the pressure on Neil Lennon’s side. And Morton took it.

Jim Duffy’s side have second place in their grasp, with two games in hand over the Bairns, level on points but a few goals worse off. The Ton have also to play the league leaders twice before the end of the season, and now lie seven points from them with one in hand there too.

Neither Falkirk nor Morton had managed to extract a league win from one another so far this season. And so the first half proved, scoreless and a stalemate.

That was a lot to do with Derek Gaston and the Morton goalkeeper kept the Bairns out with a save late in the first half to keep out an acrobatic effort from John Baird.

Kudus Oyenuga gave the visitors the win. Picture Michael Gillen.

Kudus Oyenuga gave the visitors the win. Picture Michael Gillen.

Craig Sibbald showed some nice footwork to make space for a pass to Lewis Kidd and the right-back’s cross was perfect for the frontman. Off-balance he volleyed acrobatically at the corner of the net and only a despairing dive from Gaston kept it out, one-handed.

The 45 minutes before it had been very close, with the Bairns just edging it, but both sides had chances.

Thomas O’Ware blasted over from the six-yard box after a clever free-kick routine from Morton, but both Fraser Aird and Peter Grant sent close-range efforts over and Baird had two opportunities picked off his toes.

However the Bairns restarted the second half all at sea, and very much under pressure from the visitors.

Danny Rogers had to be sharp to push over a wicked free-kick from Forbes and Peter Grant scrambled away a corner from the same player with Thomas O’Ware close by.

They got their act together and began testing Gaston again. A shot on the turn from Luke Leahy should have brought a penalty kick as O’Ware seemed to block with an arm, but Alan Muir, who had been reticient to caution anyone even in a fairly robust first half, kept his cards in his pocket.

With the chance to slice Hibs’ lead at the top Peter Houston, caught on camera with his arm in a sling after a domestic accident, had a go and replaced Mark Kerr with Myles Hippolyte, moving Sibbald into central midfield beside Tom Taiwo.

It paid off. The Bairns pushed harder fpor the opener and a great build-up between Hippolyte and Nathan Austin almost saw the in-form striker convert after a rapid exchange of passes.

Houston kept up the attacking impetus, pitching late-goal specialist Bob McHugh on for Baird and the tiring Fraser Aird with James Craigen.

However, it only had so much of an impact. Morton then got the better of the Bairns and moments before he opened the scoring Oyenuga threatened. He got the better of Gasparotto but a great recovery tackle from Lewis Kidd put the ball out for a corner.

However the Ton target man went better on the 79th minute rising to float a header beyond Rogers for the vital win.

Falkirk thought they’d immediately levelled when a floating header from Austin went in and had the Stadium celebrating, but ref Alan Muir insisted the ball had goen off the upright and hadn’t crossed the line.

McHugh then went close with a near-post flick that crept beyond the far post and though the Bairns are still in second, they are now in a purely play-off predicament unless both Morton and Hibs capitulate.