Morton show Ayr how it’s done

Ayr United 1-4 Greenock Morton

Ross Forbes and Gary Oliver each grabbed a brace as Morton outclassed the Honest Men at Somerset Park after Jamie Adams had given Ayr a bit of hope at half time. The Ayrshire side are now four points adrift of Dumbarton in ninth while Morton are now a win away from second place. Here, I take a look at how the game was won and lost.

Morton’s Midfield Magician

The away side’s standout performer, Ross Forbes, was all over the pitch and took his goals well. A lovely curled effort from wide on the right gave Morton an early lead before he showed excellent technique to get his foot over an awkward ball to drive it into the ground and bounce it over Greg Fleming’s outstretched palm. Everything good Morton did came through Forbes as he put on a man of the match performance. His delivery from a dead ball wasn’t at its best but from open play it was deadly. He was even afraid to get stuck in when needed and win the ball back to help out his defence.

Played into trouble

To both sides credit, they tried to get the ball down and play it as often as they could despite the quality of the Somerset pitch. The best opportunities were created when either team got a hold of the ball and worked it forward but Ayr sometimes chose the wrong way to do it. At 3-1 down early in the second half, they tried a bit too often to play the ball out from defence. The defenders made few mistakes but Morton applied pressure at the right times to force Ayr into a pass they didn’t want to make. This played the home side at trouble at times and their only choice was for Fleming to hit the ball long and back into Morton’s possession.

The final ball

The awareness of the away side allowed them to make quick decisions and in the final third. With the quality of their midfield, their final pass found it’s man more often than not. The home side, on the other hand, were let down on occasion with their final ball and it made getting into scoring positions all the more difficult. When Ayr made the right pass, it resulted in their best passages of play and they created chances that they should have scored but when you’re not scoring a lot of goals you need your final ball to be on point every time. With Craig Moore back fit, Ayr proved to be a more potent attacking threat but they will need to make their final ball more often in order to produce the goods if they are to beat the drop.

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Ex-rivals take to the field for Ayr and Morton

Ayr United v Greenock Morton – Match by numbers

Ayr United take on the form team in the Championship as Morton continue their push to be named best of the rest behind Dundee United and Hibernian. Ton are now just five points behind the Terrors and have the chance to close the gap further as United face a tough trip to East End Park.

4– This will be the seventh time Ayr and Morton have met at Somerset Park this decade and the Honest Men are unbeaten in their last four. Morton have won just one of those previous six matches with Ayr picking three wins and two draws. The Honest Men won the previous meeting in Ayrshire this season when goals from Paul Cairney and Alan Forrest hoisted United off the bottom of the table for the first time with a 2-1 back in September.

6– Third placed Morton are currently on a six-match unbeaten run since a 2-1 loss to Dunfermline at East End Park. The Greenock side have lost just once in their last 13 games and have picked up 11 points from their last five games making them one of the form teams in the Championship. If it wasn’t for their poor start to the campaign where they picked up just three points in their opening five games, they could be challenging Hibs at the top of the league with a tally of 31 points from their last 15 games.

8– Former St Mirren striker Lawrence Shankland scored on his Morton debut as they kept up their impressive home form with a 2-0 win over Raith Rovers two weeks ago. That matched the same achievement by former Kilmarnock defender Conrad Balatoni when he scored twice, albeit once for Airdrieonians, on his Ayr United debut. Combined, the two sides have eight of their rivals former on their books. Jamie McGowan and Scott Tiffoney played for St Mirren’s youth teams while Jon Scullion made one appearance on the bench for the Buddies. Jamie Adams spent four years as a youth player at Kilmarnock whilst Paul Cairney made 16 appearances in blue and white and Gary Harkins score five goals in 52 matches for Killie.

15– Craig Moore made his first appearance in seven months in Ayr’s 0-0 draw with Queen’s Park last weekend. The on loan Motherwell striker last took to the field in the 1-0 loss to St Mirren in the Betfred Cup back in July where he picked up a concussion. A lengthy recovered period followed but he picked up where he left off last season by scoring his 15th goal for the Honest Men in the 2-2 draw at Hampden on Tuesday. The 22-year-old was Ayr’s top scorer in the league last season with 14 goals in 25 games.