Kiltie (84 pen)
Morton cemented their spot in next season’s Ladbrokes Championship whilst moving up to fifth in the table with a priceless 1-0 win away at Dunfermline Athletic on Saturday.
Greg Kiltie was once again the Ton talisman, both winning and successfully converting the late penalty that saw Jonatan Johansson’s men collect maximum points at East End Park.
It meant back to back league wins for the first time since beating Partick Thistle and Ross County at the turn of the year, and Greenock gaffer Johansson made one enforced change to the team that triumphed at Falkirk.
With Gary Oliver ruled out by a shoulder injury, the Ton boss selected Rangers loanee Andrew Dallas to start as the spearhead in an attacking three, flanked by Charlie Telfer on the right and Kiltie on the left, in a 3-4-3 system.
Both clubs came into the match in need of points to help ease relegation worries with the margins between the pack in the bottom half tightening all the time.
And the Pars, who were pushing for a promotion play-off place not so long ago, started the game on the front foot as they looked to absolutely guarantee their own participation in next season’s second tier.
Forward Miles Hippolyte provided a spark for the hosts in the opening quarter of an hour, and threatened to break the deadlock on three separate occasions.
After flashing one shot wide with his left foot and dragging another past the post with his right, he eventually hit the target after dancing around Robby McCrorie and slotting towards goal from a tight angle.
However, ex-Dunfermline defender Gregor Buchanan, sporting a Zlatan Ibrahimovic style ponytail, denied his former club by hurrying back towards goal to hook clear.
Rangers loan keeper McCrorie then had to look sharp himself to claw Danny Devine’s close-range flick to safety after the centre-half had got himself on the end of Ryan Blair’s inswinging corner.
Fresh from an inspiring defensive display against Falkirk, Buchanan picked up where he left off in Fife on Saturday, and threw his body in front of a drive to make a brave and vital block.
As did skipper Jim McAlister when, on 36 minutes, he recovered from out of nowhere to hook the ball away from James Vincent just as he looked set to pull the trigger while bearing down on goal.
The Sinclair Street side had offered little in the way of attacking menace in the first half, and registered just one real attempt on goal before the break through a Jack Iredale header following a clipped pass by Michael Tidser.
Incidents of note were also few and far between in the second half until the 73-minute mark when Jackson Longridge careered into Reghan Tumilty as the pair contested an aerial duel after Telfer had volleyed clear.
The left wing-back had already been cautioned, for a poorly-timed slide-tackle on Telfer, and received his marching orders for the foul after whistler David Munro flashed a second yellow.
A man advantage freed Ton to venture forward more freely, and they were rewarded with a penalty kick in the 83rd minute when Hippolyte shoved Kiltie in the back as he attacked Tidser’s angled cross from deep on the left.
After successful spot-kick conversions against Alloa and Inverness, there was no doubt about who would be taking charge from 12 yards.
And Kiltie made no mistake, sending former Cappielow custodian Ryan Scully the wrong way by opening up his body and nonchalantly placing the ball into the bottom-right corner.
This was the Kilmarnock loan star’s sixth goal for the club, his fifth in his last five outings, and his fourth in consecutive matches, guaranteeing him a place in Ton hearts no matter where he’s plying his trade next term.
He celebrated as though the strike meant the world to him, and the jubilation was matched in the away end as it became clear that Morton would be competing in the Championship again next term.
2. Kilday 4. Buchanan 8. McAlister (c)
14. Tumilty 32. R. Lyon 12. Tidser 3. Iredale
6. Telfer 44. Dallas 20. Kiltie
Subs used: 11. McHugh (for Dallas, 61), and 7. Millar (for R. Lyon, 61).
Subs not used: 15. Dykes, 17. O’Connell, 36. Hynes, 37. McGrattan, 1. Gaston (gk).
Booked: Tumilty (61), McAlister (63), Tidser (72).
Dunfermline Athletic (352): Scully; Durnan, Devine (Higginbotham, 85), Ashcroft; Craigen, Vincent, L. Longridge (Martin, 75), Blair, J. Longridge; Hippolyte, Anderson (El Bakhtaoui, 63).
Subs not used: Morrison, Smith, Todd, Gill (gk).
Booked: J. Longridge (58).
Sent Off: J. Longridge (73).
Referee: David Munro
⭐️ Star Man: Jim McAlister
Image: David Bell