A goal in each half by James Dale and Gavin Malin by gave Dick Campbell’s Forfar victory and brought them to within three points of the league leaders with a game in hand, and storming back into the title race.
For 21-year-old Dale, it was only his second goal of the season, having struggled to hold down a first team spot. But after Saturday’s stunning display, the young Englishman must be hoping for a regular starting place in the run in.
Dale said: “It was a fantastic win and hopefully from now on we will push on and carry on going up the table. It was a big win for us.”
The Cappielow side went into the match brimming with confidence having had three wins in the last four meetings against the Loons.
‘Ton, bidding for a fourth successive home victory, almost made the perfect start when, after just eight minutes Declan McManus got in behind Mark Baxter, but goalkeeper Rab Douglas beat away his angled drive. One minute later the overworked Douglas was in action again, clutching a McManus head flick.
Forfar’s first opportunity came in 15 minutes when skipper Gavin Swankie rolled the ball back to Malin, but he screwed his 18-yard effort wide of the target.
Morton re-grouped quickly and Douglas again came to Forfar’s rescue in 22 minutes when the McCluskey brothers combined for the Greenock side. Jamie sent Stefan through, but the goalkeeper produced to a stunning save to turn the ball over.
Three minutes later Forfar were awarded a penalty after Sean Crighton was adjudged to have impeded Chris Templeman. Morton goalkeeper Derek Gaston pulled off a terrific save from Iain Campbell’s spot kick, but Dale followed up to net the rebound from a narrow angle.
Dale added: “I wasn’t expecting him to miss, but you always have to follow it up. I had a feeling he was going to go to the right hand side. I literally took a gamble, the keeper came out, and dropped a bit early so I thought I would put it over him and luckily it went in. That’s only my second goal of the season and by far my most important, but it was more important for the team.”
“That’s my first game back for a couple of months and I was happy with my performance and hopefully I have given the manager food for thought.”
Controversey raged in 28 minutes, at the other end, when Baxter appeared to have brought down Lee Kilday in the area, but referee Craig Charleston waved away furious claims from Morton for a penalty.
Seven minutes from the break Gaston prevented Forfar doubling their lead when he pushed away a Swankie long range curling shot.
Douglas was Forfar’s hero again in 65 minutes when he acrobatically stopped a Mark Russell close range drive after the defender burst in from the left.
The points were secured 11 minutes from time when Swankie put Malin in on the left and he clinically dispatched the ball beyond Gaston from 12 yards.
Dale went on: “We have a big game at Peterhead and then a massive game at home to Stranraer, so it’s going to be tight till the end of the season. We have to pick up as many points as we can on the road and sort out our games at home. There is no messing about and hopefully challenging for the title at the end of the year.”
Beaming Loons boss Dick Campbell said: “If we can go level and beat Peterhead on Tuesday then it’s bring it on.
“It has been an unusual season. With 26 games gone we have been in the top two 22 times. We deserve to be up there. We were diligent, professional and worthy winners on Saturday. Cappielow is a difficult place to go.
For Morton it was their first defeat since the turn of the year, ending an eight game unbeaten run.
Boss Jim Duffy added: “I am bitterly disappointed with the result. Rab Douglas has made a string of great saves and the referee has given a penalty for something nobody knows why. In the second half there was always the chance we would get caught in the counter attack and that’s exactly what happened. Forfar’s experience shone through and didn’t give us much space to play.”