Scottish Premiership - Play-off Quarter-Final - 1st Leg
Morton1Dundee Utd2

Greenock Morton 1-2 Dundee United

Simon Murray scores the equaliser for Dundee United
Simon Murray scores for Dundee United six minutes into the second half at Cappielow

Dundee United came from behind against Morton to take a narrow lead into the second leg of their Premiership play-off quarter-final.

Thomas O'Ware headed his 11th goal of the season to provide the Greenock men with a dream start early on.

But Ton missed chances to extend their lead and Simon Murray equalised in spectacular fashion in 51 minutes.

Blair Spittal added another from long distance to give the Tangerines the advantage in Friday's Tannadice return.

The winner of the tie will go on to play Falkirk over two legs in the play-off semi-final.

With the exception of a couple of unfruitful Thomas Mikkelsen efforts, the first half was all Morton's. The hosts looked buoyant and the visitors were hesitant.

With O'Ware's last goal coming in February, he was experiencing something of a goal drought by his own standards.

Thomas O'Ware gave the home side the lead
Thomas O'Ware (second from right) gave the home side the lead but the Ton could not make more of their first-half dominance

That changed in seven minutes at Cappielow when the centre-back met Lawrence Shankland's long throw-in in the six-yard area and made no mistake in directing it past Cammy Bell.

All of sudden it seemed Jim Duffy's men's miserable nine-game winless run towards the end of the season was history, as Ton looked bright and confident.

Michael Tidser cracked a 25-yard effort off the top of the crossbar after Willo Flood had surrendered possession too easily, then Gary Oliver nearly sneaked one in from close range at the near post when Jamie Lindsay picked him out.

United defender William Edjenguele was tentative and the home fans felt he fouled Oliver in the box as half-time approached, but referee Willie Collum waved play on.

Morton's undoing was not making more of their dominance in the opening 45 minutes.

Out of nowhere, six minutes after the restart, the potent Murray received Spittal's pass with his back to goal and 25 yards out. No sooner had the young forward turned before his stunning, arrowed strike had hit the top right corner to take his tally for the season to 15.

Flood's near-post shot was beaten away by Derek Gaston to provide further evidence the tide was turning.

Spittal's return to the fray after injury could not have come at a more crucial time. The former Queen's Park midfielder did not appear to be threatening anyone until he unleashed a low drive from distance that nestled in the bottom corner to complete United's comeback.

Greenock's finest were rattled and only offered a Shankland header that landed on the roof of the net as they tried to work out what had happened to a game they had been controlling.

But United held on to make it seven games unbeaten.

Dundee United manager Ray McKinnon
Despite holding a 2-1 lead, Ray McKinnon is wary of the threat Morton will pose when they visit Tannadice on Friday

Morton manager Jim Duffy: "We were on the front foot in the first half but fair play to United, they changed it in the second half with two up top and they dominated.

"Once Dundee United scored they controlled the game, our energy levels dropped and we just had to stay in the game. At 2-1, what we didn't want to do was lose another one and the tie would have been gone.

"If we get a goal [in the second leg], it's all square and we can go from there.

"We don't have the luxury of maybe changing things round to give us that bit of impetus when it's going against us and that showed today.

"We have to recharge the batteries and go to Tannadice on Friday, throw everything at it and give it a go."

Dundee United manager Ray McKinnon: "We didn't really have any quality up top in the first half but it was a fantastic response in the second half.

"We changed the system, got a lot of pressure on their back four and thoroughly deserved to win the game.

"We had to stop them getting long balls out over the top - that was their outlet. We did that.

"In the second half the players were outstanding and we scored two really good goals.

"Morton are a really dangerous side. We will show them all the respect they deserve.

"We deployed Simon Murray on the left in a 4-2-3-1 system but he didn't really have an impact on the game, so we put him up top and he made a real impact straight away."

Line-ups

Morton

  • 1Gaston
  • 18McDonagh
  • 4O'WareBooked at 80mins
  • 3Lamie
  • 17Russell
  • 8ForbesSubstituted forDoyleat 76'minutes
  • 21Murdoch
  • 10Lindsay
  • 12TidserSubstituted forTiffoneyat 90+1'minutes
  • 7Oliver
  • 16ShanklandSubstituted forOyenugaat 81'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Doyle
  • 9Oyenuga
  • 14Scullion
  • 30McGowan
  • 37Tiffoney
  • 39Strapp

Dundee Utd

  • 1Bell
  • 8Murdoch
  • 4Durnan
  • 14Edjenguele
  • 24Robson
  • 19Andreu
  • 17KuateBooked at 58mins
  • 16Flood
  • 7Spittal
  • 9MurrayBooked at 70minsSubstituted forCooteat 90+2'minutes
  • 18MikkelsenSubstituted forAllardiceat 85'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Dixon
  • 5Donaldson
  • 11Nicholls
  • 12Telfer
  • 21Zwick
  • 22Coote
  • 35Allardice
Referee:
William Collum
Attendance:
3,306

Match Stats

Home TeamMortonAway TeamDundee Utd
Possession
Home47%
Away53%
Shots
Home6
Away13
Shots on Target
Home2
Away5
Corners
Home5
Away7
Fouls
Home8
Away8

Live Text

Match ends, Morton 1, Dundee United 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Morton 1, Dundee United 2.

Substitution

Substitution, Dundee United. Alistair Coote replaces Simon Murray.

Attempt missed. Wato Kuate (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

Substitution

Substitution, Morton. Scott Tiffoney replaces Michael Tidser.

Attempt missed. Simon Murray (Dundee United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is just a bit too high.

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Mark Russell.

Attempt saved. Tony Andreu (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Substitution

Substitution, Dundee United. Scott Allardice replaces Thomas Mikkelsen.

Attempt missed. Mark Russell (Morton) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Attempt missed. Ricki Lamie (Morton) header from the centre of the box is too high following a corner.

Corner, Morton. Conceded by William Edjenguele.

Corner, Morton. Conceded by William Edjenguele.

Substitution

Substitution, Morton. Kudus Oyenuga replaces Lawrence Shankland.

Attempt missed. Blair Spittal (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top left corner from a direct free kick.

Booking

Thomas O'Ware (Morton) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Thomas O'Ware (Morton).

Thomas Mikkelsen (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Substitution

Substitution, Morton. Michael Doyle replaces Ross Forbes.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Jamie Lindsay (Morton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Delay in match Wato Kuate (Dundee United) because of an injury.

Foul by Wato Kuate (Dundee United).

Lawrence Shankland (Morton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Booking

Simon Murray (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Simon Murray (Dundee United).

Attempt missed. Simon Murray (Dundee United) header from the left side of the six yard box misses to the right.

Goal!

Goal! Morton 1, Dundee United 2. Blair Spittal (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Wato Kuate.

Hand ball by Thomas Mikkelsen (Dundee United).

Attempt blocked. Tony Andreu (Dundee United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Jamie McDonagh.

Attempt missed. Lawrence Shankland (Morton) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high following a set piece situation.

Ross Forbes (Morton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Booking

Wato Kuate (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Wato Kuate (Dundee United).

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Derek Gaston.

Attempt saved. Willo Flood (Dundee United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Corner, Morton. Conceded by Mark Durnan.

Jamie Lindsay (Morton) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Willo Flood (Dundee United).

goal

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