Morton 1 Falkirk 0 : Ray McKinnon's Greenock return ends in defeat and red card

Ray McKinnon returned to Cappielow after his controversial move to Falkirk. Picture Michael Gillen.
Ray McKinnon returned to Cappielow after his controversial move to Falkirk. Picture Michael Gillen.

Ten man Falkirk were beaten on Ray McKinnon's hostile return to Cappielow.

Home fans waved red cards at their ex-boss on his first visit back to the ground he called home at the start of the season before his defection to the Bairns that prompted much chagrin down Inverclyde way.

Falkirk fans gave their backing to the boss....    Picture Michael Gillen.

Falkirk fans gave their backing to the boss.... Picture Michael Gillen.

But it was a legitimate red card waved by referee John Beaton that counted against the visiting boss and the Bairns as Leo Fasan was sent off just three minutes into the second half after wandering off his line and scything down Michael Tidser just outside his area.

The resultant 42 minutes was spent defending by the Bairns and in a meeting where uncomfortable returns were order of the day, it was an ex-Bairn, Bob McHugh who returned to haunt his former club.

He bundled in from close range after Kerr Waddell's header across goal had beaten David Mitchell and Tom Dallison on the line.

The match had been stoked as a grudge match by the home support who carried placards bearing the Falkirk manager's face. The Falkirk fans wore Ray McKinnon masks in support of the boss. But far from hostile the first half was poor and devoid of much quality. Falkirk were far from off the pace and looked at the very least a match for a Morton side, several places above them in the SPFL Championship table.

.... but the local press in Greenock tried to create a hostile atmosphere.  Picture Michael Gillen.

.... but the local press in Greenock tried to create a hostile atmosphere. Picture Michael Gillen.

Zak Rudden should have done so much better with an unchallenged header after just six minutes but steered Andy Irving's cross wide without troubling Ryan Scully.

It was a better start from the visitors than it was the hosts who have struggled at home. The visitors, as we know have just simply struggled this season and despite a battling show, the struggles continue. Prince Buaben, on his debut for the Bairns, was a powerful presence in the midfield but no telling blows were landed on Scully's goal.

The closest the opening period came to a goal was a thundering blast from Gary Oliver that struck the junction of the crossbar and post of Leo Fasan's goal after a slice clear by Jordan McGhee.

Fasan was also down smartly to deny Jim McAlister and Michael Tidser during the opening 45 minutes - fairly routine takes for a goalkeeper but valuable nonetheless in keeping the scoreline blank at Cappielow.

Gary Oliver's drive had Leo Fasan well beaten.  Picture Michael Gillen.

Gary Oliver's drive had Leo Fasan well beaten. Picture Michael Gillen.

The anticipated hostile atmosphere was rarely evident. Assistant boss Darren Taylor was roundly jeered as he took the field for the warm-up and Ray McKinnon's appearance in the dugout was likewise at kick-off. The hand-out red cards were infrequently displayed around the ground and only the Falkirk manager breaking cover to instruct his team brough hissing from the home stand above his head.

Little on the park did much to ignite the atmosphere so desparately stoked pre-match, and without much success, by the local press. That changed in the second half thanks to Fasan's poor positioning and reckless challenge.

After the protests over John Beaton's award, and the goalkeeper's departure McKinnon was warned by the referee over his conduct and brought more delight from the home support by slipping in his technical area.

Then Paul Paton was booked with Jim McAlister furious at the midfielder's challnege na dthe players piled together, the temperatures rose, but the scores didn't, and the anger soon dissipated after Falkirk camped back in their own third of the park and kept Morton out.

Zak Rudden should have scored this early chance.  Picture Michael Gillen.

Zak Rudden should have scored this early chance. Picture Michael Gillen.

Bairns sub goalkeeper David Mitchell looked assured in his first competitive action since a horrible knee dislocation more than a year ago, and his defence did their best to protect the former Dundee stopper.

However after almost half an hour repelling the pressure ex-Bairn McHugh notched the game's only goal and the home support celebrated the win with schadenfreude.