Dundee earned an exciting home quarter-final tie with Dundee United in the William Hill Scottish Cup by recording a comprehensive win over First Division Morton at Dens Park.
Scorers: Dundee - McAlister 29, Toshney 65, Nish 71, Baird 74, Gallagher 82; Morton - Tidser 31
Referee: B Madden
Barry Smith’s side forgot about their troubles at the bottom of the SPL as their second-half surge saw off Allan Moore’s men.
Strikes after the break by Lewis Toshney, Colin Nish, John Baird and Declan Gallagher put them through to the last eight after Michael Tidser had cancelled out Jim McAlister’s opener to leave the sides level at half-time.
Now, Dundee will be desperate to avenge the three successive 3-0 defeats they have suffered at the hands of United this season – the first in a summer challenge match and the other two in the SPL.
Dundee carved out the first real goalscoring opportunity in 13 minutes when McAlister’s corner was met by Baird and his header was turned around the post by visiting goalkeeper Derek Gaston. A few minutes later, they went on the offensive again in search of an opening goal to settle any lingering nerves, winger Nicky Riley trying his luck with a low 25-yard snapshot which flashed just inches past Gaston’s right-hand post.
It was all Dundee and midway through the first half Baird was presented with another opportunity to break the deadlock.
Strike partner Nish helped the ball on for Baird to run through on goal but from an acute angle he fired the ball into Gaston’s side-netting.
Soon after Morton had their first real chance when they were awarded a free kick 25 yards from goal.
Martin Hardie stepped up and forced Rab Douglas to fling himself full-length to claw away his effort.
At the other end, Nish wasted a chance with the goal at his mercy in 28 minutes.
Riley’s cross eluded everyone inside the box before Nish popped up at the far post but somehow he swiped at fresh air .
However, after 29 minutes McAlister saved Nish’s blushes as he finally put the home side ahead.
Brian Easton’s flighted ball forward was flicked on by Nish perfectly for McAlister to run onto, and the midfielder made no mistake against his former club as he steadied himself before angling a low left-foot finish into Gaston’s near post to give the Taysiders some much-needed breathing space.
McAlister’s strike was one to savour after his spectacular strike against Kilmarnock in the league the week before had been controversially chopped off.
But their lead was short-lived as Morton hit back within just two minutes.
Peter MacDonald saw his initial shot blocked inside the box by on-loan Celtic ace Toshney.
But Tidser was quickest to react to the loose ball and despite the best efforts of Douglas, he could not keep the ball out as he got a hand to it but could only watch as it trickled into the bottom corner of the net.
There was not much to set pulses racing after the break, although McAlister did try to enliven things with an ambitious shot from 30 yards which Gaston did well to hold.
But after 65 minutes they went 2-1 ahead through Toshney’s glancing header from McAlister’s corner, which David O’Brien tried to clear but could not keep out. In the 71st minute, Dundee killed the contest when Riley’s cross was headed by Scott and Nish was on hand to nod home from eight yards.
Baird made it 4-1 after 74 minutes with a 12-yard finish after Nish’s knockdown from Kevin McBride’s free kick. And Gallagher rounded things off after 82 minutes with a header from McAlister’s corner.
Smith praised his players for sweeping past Morton and said: “It’s a very good win all things considered. It should give the players a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.
“The goals all came from different players and there was a lot of decent football on show so it’s all positive. We will hopefully take encouragement from this and there’s no reason why we can’t. This was always going to be a dangerous tie against a good side but we handled it well and I’m very happy with that.”
Morton manager Allan Moore was quick to admit his side were never at the races. He said: “It’s so disappointing from our point of view. When you look at the goals we lost that was our own fault with nobody else to blame. It just wasn’t good enough and we can’t make any excuses. At the end of the day we didn’t do the basics right, especially in defence.
“We managed to get a goal back before half-time and thought we could have done something in the second half, but that’s not how things turned out to be. I do feel for the fans. We fancied ourselves to do something and I think so did the fans who turned up here.”
Dundee: Douglas,Irvine,Toshney,Gallagher,Easton,Riley, McBride (Conroy 86),Davidson,McAlister,J Baird (Stewart 86), Nish (Milne 80). Subs Not Used: A Baird,Benedictus. .
Morton: Gaston,Taggart,Reid,Rutkiewicz,Dyer,Bachirou, Hardie (Wilkie 72),Tidser,Graham (Weatherson 72),MacDonald, O’Brien. Subs Not Used: Hutton,O’Ware,Wallace.