Phil McGhee at Cappielow Park
Motherwell crashed out of the League Cup to Championship side Morton after losing 3-2 after extra time.
An injury time equaliser from Scott McDonald forced Motherwell into extra-time for the second consecutive League Cup tie. But there was to be no great escape for the Fir Park side this time as Jim Duffy’s men netted twice in the additional 30 minutes.
A late strike from Loius Moult gave some hopes of taking the game to penalties and revive memories of the Scottish Cup win at Cappielow in 1991 on the road to Hampden.
However, there was to be no cup glory this time, though, as despite an energetic finish, Motherwell failed to improve sufficiently on a slow start.
Ian Baraclough made three changes from the side which faced Hamilton, Jack Leitch returning to the midfield while wide men Marvin Johnson and Dom Thomas were deployed to support lone striker Theo Robinson.
Undoubtedly, there was pressure on the Premiership side and Morton made the most of it with a confident opening spell. And although Leitch was first to produce a shot which drifted over, it was the home side that found the net after 11 minutes.
Peter McDonald’s pass took a fortunate bounce off Stephen McManus’ heel at the edge of the box but there was nothing lucky about the finish as Alex Samuel slammed his angled drive from 15 yards high past Connor Ripley.
The Fir Park men then enjoyed a lot of possession as they moved the ball around the Cappielow pitch and Johnson latched on to a loose ball at the edge of the box before testing the Morton ‘keeper with a low shot.
Liam Grimshaw then broke from the middle of the park but his shot drifted high over the bar. A rehearsed corner from Thomas after 24 minutes picked out the unmarked Joe Chalmers and the full back’s drive from 20 yards raced through a packed penalty box and just outside the post.
It was the Greenock men, though, who came closest to adding to the score when McDonald darted into the box and his powerful drive forced a diving block from Ripley.
Johnson curled another effort beyond the Morton goal before McDonald came close to snatching a second just before half time when unmarked, he stabbed the ball a yard wide of a begging goal.
A big improvement was required from ‘Well in the second half, particularly in terms of goal threats but it was an unchanged side that kicked off the second forty five.
That changed within 13 minutes, though, when ‘Well went two up front, Louis Moult and Scott McDonald replacing Thomas and Robinson.
Before the strikers could make an impact the tie was almost over. Former Steelman Ross Forbes rolled a short free kick to McDonald and his terrific strike was brilliantly blocked by Ripley once again.
A quick exchange between McDonald and Moult sent the latter racing through but Gaston sprinted from his line to clear the danger.
Down the other end, a Forbes free kick took a wicked deflection before rolling narrowly past Ripley’s post to keep the visitor’s faint hopes alive.
With ten minutes remaining Lionel Ainworth came on to make his presence felt on the right. Although there was a bit more urgency and threat around the home goal ‘Well still couldn’t force a save from the Morton ‘keeper.
Indeed it took a smart save from Ripley to deny Michael Tidser making it two and finishing off the tie.
Then in the final minute, Ainsworth’s 20 yard drive flashed narrowly past the post ‘Well looked down and out.
Dramatically in the second minute of injury time McDonald snatched an equaliser when he squeezed Ainsworth’s cross under the ‘keeper.
The late equaliser failed to dent Morton’s confidence and six minutes into extra-time Ripley produced another good save to turn a 35 yarder from Forbes over the bar.
Two minutes later ‘Well should have been ahead when Moult chested down Ainworth’s cross but from 12 yards he swept the ball wide of goal.
That miss proved costly when Morton regained the lead, Samuel sneaking in front of Kieran Kennedy to guide the ball low past Ripley for his second goal.
The game was then stopped for 5 minutes due to trouble in the ‘Well crowd behind the Morton ‘keeper.
Early in the second period of extra time Grimshaw’s volley was held by Gaston under his cross bar before Ainsworth miss hit from five yards as ‘Well chased another equaliser.
Eight minutes from the end, though, Tidser nudged the ball beyond Ripley to make it 3-1 and dent any thoughts of a Motherwell recovery.
However, with four minutes remaining Moult lashed a loose ball high into the net to set up a nail biting finish but Morton held out to deservedly progress to the quarter finals.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Cappielow Park
FT: Morton 3 – 2 Motherwell AET
ET 26′ | 3-2
GOAL – Moult pulls one back for ‘Well. 3-2 now….
ET 22′ | 3-1
Goal – Tidser makes it 3-1, getting on the end of a cut-back into the box
ET 15′ | 2-1
Last 15 now underway
ET HT’ | 2-1
Denny Johnstone goal gives Morton a 2-1 lead going into the last 15 minutes.
ET 15+ 3′ | 2-1
Gaston saves McDonald’s shot with his foot as he raced on to Moult’s through ball
ET 14′ | 2-1
Long stoppage in play here as Police deal with incidents in the crowd.
ET 10′ | 2-1
Goal – Johnstone gets across his man and gets on the end of the cross, tapping into the net. 2-1 Morton.
ET 9′ | 1-1
Great ball in to Moult by Ainsworth. He takes a touch but can’t find the target from 15 yards.
ET 6′ | 1-1
Forbes pulls a shot out of nothing and Ripley does well to tip it over the bar.
First half of extra-time is now underway. COYW!!!!
FT’ | 1-1
Into extra-time, McDonald pulling ‘Well level with the last kick of the ball.
90′ | 1-0
Ainsworth skips past his man and gets a shot away which flies agonisingly past the post.
86′ | 1-0
Morton sub, Lamie on for Miller.
85′ | 1-0
Good save again from Ripley, palming Tidser’s shot wide of the post.
79′ | 1-0
Motherwell sub, Taylor makes way for Ainsworth
77′ | 1-0
Deep ball into the back post by Johnson is headed wide of the post by Law.
76′ | 1-0
Morton sub, Johnstone on for McDonald.
75′ | 1-0
Forbes’ free-kick is deflected wide of the post, with Ripley wrong footed. Close.
71′ | 1-0
Moult booked for dissent it looked like. Nothing in the foul and ref pulled the play back.
62′ | 1-0
Superb save from Ripley, diving low to his right to tip McDonald’s free-kick to safety.
61′ | 1-0
Law booked for pulling at Sabajo’s shirt as he passed him.
59′ | 1-0
Johnson gets down the wing and forces a corner….but it is nodded clear at the front post.
56′ | 1-0
Motherwell subs, Moult comes on for Robinson and McDonald comes on for Thomas.
46′ | 1-0
Straight away Morton have a free-kick in a dangerous position…Fired in low by Forbes, cleared by Leitch.
Morton get the second 45 underway. …
Half time, Morton 1 – 0 Motherwell
43′ | 1-0
Pepper booked for a foul on Johnson as he broke away from a Morton corner.
42′ | 1-0
Very nearly 2-0 to Morton there as McDonald latches onto a cross and pokes it just wide from close range.
36′ | 1-0
Taylor bursts forward and plays in Johnson…..can’t test the ‘keeper from just outside the box, though.
30′ | 1-0
Samuel stings Ripley’s palms with a powerful drive from just outside the box. Ripley beats it away.
27′ | 1-0
Great corner delivery to the head of O’Ware who heads inches over the bar from ten yards.
24′ | 1-0
Taylor’s cross is sliced wide for a corner….nicely worked set piece sets up Chalmers who shoots just wide!
13′ | 1-0
‘Well work the ball quickly up to Johnson who cuts inside from the right but shoots well over the bar.
Goal – Samuel gets the break of the ball in the box and makes no mistake, firing past Ripley from 15 yards!
Johnson gets the better of Pepper and squares it to Leitch who opts for the shot. Fires well into the ‘Well fans.
Tidser works a bit of space down the right and slides in Kilday but he slices his cross into the stand, with Morton men in the area
Kick-off | 0-0
Taylor and Leitch get the game underway. COYW!!!
Out come the teams, ‘Well in full claret, Morton in their familiar blue and white hoops #GMFCvMFC
Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough:
Morton manager Jim Duffy: