There was no cause to quibble with the scoreline at Cappielow yesterday – this victory for Morton was absolutely as comfortable as the margin suggests. On paper this all Championship tie, featuring two sides who had drawn their two previous league meetings, looked like it might be a close run thing. The reality was that the contrasting recent form of both sides was cruelly laid bare, with the visitors looking every bit like a side that is now embroiled in a battle to avoid a relegation play-off spot.
Jim Duffy’s men on the other hand are in the midst of a very decent run and the Greenock side simply cruised into the quarter-finals for the second time in three seasons. “I think we earned the right to be in the next round by the performance,” reflected the contented Morton manager. “We scored an outstanding first goal, then probably could have had a couple more. The second goal was pivotal and allowed us to manage the game.”
“We’re in the quarter-finals again which is fantastic for the players – they enjoy the profile of being in the competition. We can look forward to the draw, there’s a lot of sides bigger than ourselves that aren’t going to be in it.” `
The home side really ought to have been out of sight even by the interval as they carved out several good opportunities through tidy and incisive play in and around the Dumbarton box. Their finishing was just fractionally adrift on a number of occasions, however, and they had to make do with an early breakthrough strike from Frank Ross.
In its build up and execution it summed up all that was good about the performance by Duffy’s side, Ross picking up the ball in final third, playing a quick one-two with Gary Oliver and directing the ball beyond Scott Gallagher.
Dumbarton were compact and diligent but carried precious little in the way of a goal threat themselves, with the nimble footwork shown by Dimitris Froxylias frequently undone by a poor choice of final ball. On the one occasion when he did truly deliver, his inviting low ball across the home six yard box was fractionally out of reach for the onrushing Iain Russell.
Fortuitous or not, Stevie Aitken’s men still had a toehold in the game after the restart. However, that was quickly dislodged as Morton once again created space for themselves down the flanks and Scott Tiffoney’s cross made its way to Jack Iredale at the far post and he side-footed a lofted shot into the net.
Any edge to this tie thereafter evaporated as Morton fairly comfortably contained the laboured efforts of their opponents to reduce the deficit. The best chances continued to materialise at the other end of the field with Bob McHugh coming close with a stinging drive which Gallagher did well to divert to safety. The substitute was not to be denied though, as he struck with 10 minutes remaining to net Morton’s third.