Forbes (6), McDonagh (33), Oliver (36), Quitongo (64), O’Ware (71 pen)
Magnificent Morton set themselves up for next Saturday’s Betfred Cup semi-final showdown against Aberdeen with a sensational 5-0 thrashing of Queen of the South at Palmerston this afternoon.
To record that margin of victory against any Championship club is an achievement in its own right, but to do so away at the league leaders in such a stylish manner and minus the services of a handful of key players was remarkable.
The Ton were without Lee Kilday, Ricki Lamie, Gavin Gunning, Caolan McAleer, all of whom were put through a separate workout pre-match by Jim Duffy, Conor Pepper and Michael Tidser.
Their injury problems were added to against Raith Rovers last week and the two players who were forced off in that match made for boss Duffy’s only changes this afternoon.
Derek Gaston replaced Andy McNeil between the sticks. Defender Gunning, meanwhile, was forced off with a hamstring problem and his place in the side was taken by Andy Murdoch, necessitating a reshuffle.
As they did last weekend, Michael Doyle moved in to centre-half, Jamie McDonagh filled in at right-back; however, Murdoch went into central midfield this time while Ross Forbes moved to the right.
On a day in which there every Ton player was on their game, it would be unfair to pick any one individual out for special praise – but midfielder Forbes was the key performer on the day, having a hand in all five goals.
He opened the scoring in spectacular fashion after just six minutes when he worked a short corner with Gary Oliver, shifted outside and curled an unstoppable shot past a rooted Lee Robinson from 20 yards.
The former Motherwell man played his part in the second goal, playing the final pass in a slick exchange that sent Jamie McDonagh driving forward at full pelt.
McDonagh arrowed infield, finding a crack in the Doonhamers defence, and rifled a low, left-footed finish inside the right-hand upright to make it 2-0 and open his Morton account.
Frontman Oliver was outstanding against his former employers and added a third three minutes later when Forbes found him pulling out onto the wing with a disguised free-kick.
He proceeded to waltz past two challenges to work the space for an attempt at goal, and he made no mistake as he guided a controlled finish around Robinson’s despairing dive with his left instep.
It was a sensational first-half display by the Greenock men, and although they added two more goals to make it a famous five it could have been more.
Jai Quitongo, for example, had already struck the base of the post before scoring his side’s fourth goal on 64 minutes to take his tally to six for the season.
Although he had the instinct to get himself into the right position at the right time, he owed a debt of gratitude to Oliver and Forbes.
The pair worked another variation of the trademark Morton short corner routine, with Forbes passing short to Oliver, receiving a disguised backheeled return, driving along the byeline and finding Quitongo for a tap in.
And it was Forbes who was sent sprawling inside the box on 71 minutes for the penalty that skipper, and designated taker, Thomas O’Ware despatched with aplomb to wrap up a phenomenal 5-0 rout.
18. McDonagh 6. Doyle 4. O’Ware (c) 17. Russell
8. Forbes 10. Lindsay 21. Murdoch 11. Nesbitt
7. Oliver 24. Quitongo
Subs used: 9. Oyenuga (for Nesbitt, 80), 14. Scullion (for Quitongo, 85), and 37. Tiffoney (for Forbes, 86).
Subs not used: 22. Orr, 32. Mitchell, 20. McNeil (gk).
Booked: Oliver (26), McDonagh (54).
Queen of the South (4411): Robinson; Hamill, Brownlie, Dowie (c), Marshall; Anderson (Hooper, 62), Pickard, Millar (Brotherston, 62), Rigg (Fergusson, 79); Dobbie; Dykes.
Subs not used: Moxon, Bell, Nelson, Leighfield (gk),
Booked: Brownlie (25), Pickard (35), Millar (45), Dowie (62), Robinson (71), Marshall (84).
Referee: Steven Kirkland
Images: David Bell