REPORT: Morton 0 Rotherham 0

Published: 10 Jul 2013 11:300 comments

MICHAEL Tidser made a quick return to Cappielow as Morton and his new side Rotherham United drew 0-0 at Cappielow last night.

GOT TO HAND IT TO HIM: Moore shakes hands with Tidser at full-time.

The midfielder completed a £50,000 move to the Millers last week and made his debut as a second-half substitute in a 2-0 win over local non-league side Parkgate at the weekend.

He was on the bench again last night and was given a standing ovation by the Ton faithful when he joined the fray 11 minutes from time.

Allan Moore, meanwhile, must now look to the future without the stylish playmaker as he pushes on with his attempts to build a new-look squad for next season.

As revealed in the Tele, trialists Kabba-Modou Cham, Tomas Peciar and Michal Habai have all agreed terms in principle with some finer details still to be ironed out.

The Ton boss is also keen on teenage attacking midfielder Tomas Kamenca, but any move will depend on his former club FC Petrzalka's willingness to waive a development fee.

All four have returned home to Belgium and Slovakia respectively to await further news and sort out their affairs.

Their absence meant a far less exotic Ton selection took to the field to face the League One outfit.

Familiar faces Derek Gaston, Scott Taggart, Fouad Bachirou, Mark McLaughlin, Archie Campbell and David O'Brien were joined by new signings Jonathan Page and Joe McKee.

There was also a start at left-back for Marc Fitzpatrick, who penned a one-year deal earlier in the day after impressing in a closed-doors game against Motherwell.

Former St Mirren wideman Dougie Imrie was listed as a trialist and wore the number seven shirt.

Although he was still reluctant to nail his colours to a particular mast, the fact he was willing to play is an encouraging sign that a move to Cappielow is a real possibility.

In one final piece of team news, there was a late change to the team sheet when trialist Dale Fulton was withdrawn from the starting line-up at the last minute.

Tony Wallace was selected in his place, which meant McKee dropped back from the position in the hole behind Campbell to play a deeper role.

The former Burnley and Bolton midfielder appeared to revel in the switch, often falling in behind his own central defenders to pick up possession directly from Gaston.

After so many years out of the spotlight down south, the 20-year-old's almost insatiable desire to get on the ball and try to direct play was as understandable as it was impressive.

But Ton's willingness to play football was met with a brick wall of Rotherham resistance. It was clash of styles, a case of physical force versus finesse.

The sides traded attempts on goal after quarter of an hour when Imrie crashed a crisp strike against the advertising boards and Mitchell Rose sent in a long-range effort which Gaston gathered in his midriff.

Rotherham took the initiative and created another opening on 21 minutes, but David Worrall sent a sliced volley into the side-netting with the goal gaping.

After 15 minutes on the backfoot, Ton began to make inroads at the opposite end as the first half approached its end.

Imrie was using his top flight experience to good effect, looking to open out the game with switches to O'Brien while also drawing free-kicks in dangerous areas.

He was fouled 22 yards out slightly to right of centre on 38 minutes and looked set to take the kick.

But McKee assumed responsibility and whipped the ball across his body towards the bottom left corner, forcing a strong, two-handed save from Scottish keeper Scott Shearer.

While the likes of McKee and Imrie were catching the eye for the right reasons, new centre-half Page was looking rusty at the other end. On 42 minutes, he had partner McLaughlin to thank for bailing him out with heroic last-ditch block after he had misjudged a long ball and allowed Danny Hylton to get in behind.

Yet it was the Cappielow men who created the best opening of the half just one minute later when the quick-thinking Imrie slipped Campbell in on goal with a cute free-kick.

The move caught the Millers rearguard napping and gave Ton's jet-heeled striker a clear shot on goal.

But he didn't connect as cleanly as he would have liked, allowing keeper Shearer, who excelled in matches against Ton for Albion Rovers back in 2002-03, to save with his feet.

English clubs' finances and large playing squads usually afford them the luxury of being able to swap their whole team at the interval.

Steve Evans stopped short of a full turnaround, making 10 changes and leaving Tidser on the bench to give him the opportunity come on to a round of applause from the home support.

Ton gaffer Moore made just two subs of his own, sending on trialist right midfielder David Crawford and keeper Nicolas Caraux in place of O'Brien and Gaston.

As a result of those changes, Imrie was moved over to the left flank - and almost caused the hosts to fall behind with some overly casual play there.

Despite facing his own goal and being under pressure deep on the left, he attempted an ambitious switch out to the right which was blocked by Mark Bradley.

Wales internationalist Bradley's outstretched leg sent the ball spinning towards goal. Caraux, however, showed fantastic reactions to scramble down to his left and push wide.

Another Welsh cap, Daniel Nardiello, should have opened the scoring on 66 minutes but pulled woefully wide with the goal gaping after Nicky Walker had robbed Page and teed him up.

Rotherham were well on top at this stage and only sound goalkeeping from Caraux kept Ton on level terms.

The former RC Lens man smothered a Kieran Agard drive and then produced a fantastic fingertip save three minutes later.

Northern Ireland midfielder Michael O'Connor rolled a free-kick into the path of David Noble, whose low strike was flicked on by Bradley eight yards out.

The final touch changed the trajectory of the effort, but Caraux sailed backwards to touch the ball onto the crossbar and over.

Moore sent on trialists Martin Murphy, Robbie Thomson and James Creaney as well as youth team products Aidan Fulton and Nicky Jamieson.

And it was former Partick Thistle target Fulton who created Ton's first opening of the second half with a driving run and pinpoint angled centre. However, inrushing former Dundee United kid Thomson failed to open out his body and only managed to sidefoot into grateful keeper Adam Collin's grasp.

Caraux made two more impressive stops to thwart Bradley and Nardiello, but the final 11 minutes were all about Tidser.

The 23-year-old was given a fantastic reception by the home support when he replaced Rose on 79 minutes and then again as he left the field at time up.

That hero's welcome was in no small part a result of a fantastic campaign last year in which he netted 13 goals from midfield.

But try as he might - and he did with a hat-trick of wayward efforts - the playmaker failed to mark his farewell with a winning goal for his new club.

For his former side, the match was another beneficial workout against a physical and athletic English League One outfit.

MORTON (4-2-3-1): Gaston (6) (Caraux 46, 7); Taggart (6) (Knight 79, 4), Page (5), McLaughlin (7) © (Jamieson 68, 5), Fitzpatrick (7) (Creaney 64, 4); Bachirou (6), McKee (7); Imrie (6) (A. Fulton 73, 5), Wallace (5) (Murphy 60, 5), O'Brien (6) (Crawford 46, 5); Campbell (5) (Thomson 60, 4).

ROTHERHAM UNITED (4-4-2): Shearer; Brindley, Rowe, Mullins, Milsom; Worrall, Frecklington, Rose, Pringle; Hylton, Revell.

Second Half: Collin; Bradley, Morgan, Arnason, Skarz; Rose (Tidser, 79), Noble, O'Connor, Walker; Agard, D. Nardiello.

Booking: Morgan (72). Attendance: 667. Referee: Barry Cook.

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