Morton 1 - 2 Dundee United: Shankland strike puts leaders 10 points clear

Lawrence Shankland slots the ball home to put Dundee United 2-1 ahead against Morton at Cappielow. Picture: Bruce White/SNSLawrence Shankland slots the ball home to put Dundee United 2-1 ahead against Morton at Cappielow. Picture: Bruce White/SNS
Lawrence Shankland slots the ball home to put Dundee United 2-1 ahead against Morton at Cappielow. Picture: Bruce White/SNS
Dundee United extended their lead to ten points at the top of the Championship with their seventh league win on the trot.

The Cappielow groundstaff worked miracles to make the surface playable after the Greenock pitch was lashed for most of the day by torrential rain, with the game only given the go-ahead after a mid-afternoon inspection. The pitch continued to be forked right up until kick-off and their efforts were rewarded with some terrific entertainment.

Morton were desperate to avenge a 6-0 mauling they received at the hands of United in their previous meeting at Tannadice in September, which included a Lawrence Shankland hat-trick, his second for the club since his move to Tayside. Shankland had previously been on loan with Morton back in January 2017.

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Morton had only managed three wins over the Tangerines in their previous 16 clashes but hadn’t lost to United in their three previous meetings at Cappielow.

Ton boss David Hopkin rang the changes from the side which lost heavily at the weekend at Dunfermline bringing in Luca Colville, John Sutton, Reece Lyon and Aidan Nesbitt for Nicky Cadden, Robbie Muirhead, Bob McHugh and Chris Millar.

Robbie Neilson made just one change to his United side, bringing in Shankland for Paul McMullan.

The league leaders quickly swept to the other end and took the lead after five minutes. Sam Stanton played a short corner to Nicky Clark, who whipped the ball in. Shankland mis-kicked in front of goal but Louis Appere netted from close range for his second goal in two games.

Morton almost hit back immediately but Sutton’s 25-yard drive went dipping just over after seven minutes. Three minutes later, Lyon almost netted for Ton but goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist made a superb stop, diving full length to his right.

Morton belied the tricky conditions and put United under constant pressure. After 12 minutes Jamie Robson was fortunate not to put through his own goal as he sliced the ball over his crossbar.

United gradually began to dominate possession but Morton still posed a threat on the counter attack, in particular Nesbitt, who was proving to be a handful with pace and direct running, and came close after 23 minutes. Two minutes later Morton were level in controversial circumstances. Sutton got his head to the ball at the back post which Siegrist tried to scramble out. Referee David Lowe awarded the goal, despite furious protests from the United goalkeeper who claimed that the ball had not crossed the line.

United responded and restored their lead in 31 minutes when Appere fired in a low cross from the right which Ian Harkes left for Shankland to step over and slot the ball beyond keeper Danny Rogers.

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One minute from the break Siegrist ensured United’s interval lead with a sensational save from Kyle Jacob’s 
curling effort.

Five minutes after the restart Morton came close again after a long-range drive by Adam Livingstone was blocked by Adam Watson but Sutton scooped the rebound over.

The Greenock outfit tried desperately for a leveller and, after 74 minutes, substitute Cadden floated the ball over but Nesbitt couldn’t direct his header on target. Two minutes from time, substitute Cammy Salkeld almost snatched a dramatic equaliser for the home side but Siegrist saved again.