First Division: Morton all but end Livingston’s title hopes as Thistle climb to second

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Morton kept hold of top spot in the First Division with a 2-1 win over visitors Livingston to ensure that the title race continues only between Partick Thistle, Dunfermline Athletic and themselves.

The Lions could have emerged as a fourth challenger with a win at Cappielow as well as in their three games in hand, however Peter MacDonald’s winner has hushed talk of a West Lothian challenge.

The Greenock side took the lead on 15 minutes when Martin Hardie poked the ball home after Andy McNeil could only block a MacDonald shot.

Former Morton frontman Iain Russell tied the scores eight minutes after the restart with a low 20 yard shot and the winner came on 69 minutes when Michael Tidser sent over a free kick and MacDonald rose to head home.

Morton boss Allan Moore said: “There were not many chances but we managed to get the winner. We have moved 15 points clear of them and that is a lot to make up in the second half of the season.”

Disappointed Livingston head coach Gareth Evans said: “We had lots of possession but we did not get the result we deserved. I am disappointed that we lost goals from set-pieces.”

Doubles from Conrad Balatoni and Chris Erskine saw Partick Thistle’s promotion push back on track following a winless four-game run, their 4-1 defeat of Falkirk at Firhill moving them above the idle Pars.

The Glasgow side took the lead after just four minutes with Balatoni heading home a corner with the Bairns equalising 14 minutes later when Lyle Taylor drilled home from eight yards out.

However, the score was only level for two minutes with Erskine flicking home a fine header for Thistle.

McGovern then made a great stop to keep out substitute Sean Welsh’s well struck drive before half-time and 9 minutes after the restart, Taylor shot wide of an open goal, a miss that was to prove decisive.

Balatoni cracked home a 12 yard left foot shot on 62 minutes when a corner fell into his path and then Erskine danced his way forward and chipped over McGovern to make it four.

Ian Murray’s resurgent Dumbarton came from a goal down to defeat hosts Airdrie United 2-1 and join the Diamonds and Cowdenbeath on the 17-point mark. It was the Sons’ fourth victory in five league games and they also have three games in hand over Airdrie and one over the Blue Brazil in their bid to climb to safety.

Airdrie had taken an early lead when Ryan Donnelly shot home from 10 yards, however Marc McCusker levelled and then Jim Lister netted from close range before half time to turn things around.

Hamilton won 2-0 at Raith Rovers with all the action coming in the second half. The Kirkcaldy side’s Allan Walker had a penalty saved by Kevin Cuthbert on 50 minutes after he had been brought down and Rovers further self-destructed when Dougie Hill was dismissed seven minutes from time for a foul on Darian MacKinnon.

Things got even worse for Raith in the final minute with Brian Graham touching an Ali Crawford corner into his own net and Stevie May netting a 20 yard free kick in injury time.