Morton moved up to third in the Ladbrokes Championship with a 1-0 win over Queen of the South in front of the BBC Alba cameras at Cappielow last night.
Ross Forbes made the difference, netting his 12th goal of the season early in the second half to strengthen the Ton’s grip on a play-off place by pushing them 10 points clear of their opponents in fifth position.
It also pushed them one step closer to going the full calendar year without losing on home turf, with the Dunfermline league fixture on 25 March now all that stands between them and achieving that stunning feat.
As it stands, they are now 19 games unbeaten in all competitions at Cappielow stretching back to the 1-0 loss to Raith Rovers on Saturday 26 March 2016.
Although performance levels haven’t dipped, this victory over Queens was actually the Ton’s first since beating Raith at Stark’s Park on Tuesday 7 February.
Since that date they had lost narrowly to Rangers in the Scottish Cup then drew with both Falkirk and Dundee United before sitting out last Saturday due to Hibernian’s quarter-final tie.
Manager Jim Duffy made two changes to the team that picked up an impressive point at Tannadice, bringing back the fit again pair of Michael Doyle and Jamie Lindsay for the less than 100 per cent Ricki Lamie and Mark Russell.
Both returning players were asked to fill unfamiliar roles, with right-back Doyle asked to cover at left-back, something he previously did to solid effect against Dunfermline in September, and Lindsay deployed in the hole behind the striker.
The visitors were the first to threaten, though, when star striker Stephen Dobbie picked out midfielder Joe Thomson’s burst into the box with a floated cross.
Celtic loanee Thomson, who scored against the Cappielow club in the 3-0 reverse in Dumfries last month, met the centre with bullet header that required Derek Gaston to throw up two hands to a solid stop.
Morton’s own Parkhead player Lindsay had the ball in the Queens net after 31 minutes, flicked into the net from close range after Doyle had headed Lawrence Shankland’s dinked cross down into his path.
However, referee Craig Charleston adjudged the defender to have fouled Dom Thomas as he climbed over him to win the header and chalked the goal off.
A scrappy and uneventful first half almost ended on a high when, in the second minute of stoppage time, Aidan Nesbitt was presented with a fantastic opportunity.
Former Ton keeper Lee Robinson attempted to clear an Andy Murdoch cross with a panicked punch that only went as far the winger six yards out, but he leaned back and skewed his volley over the top.
In response to the below first half, Duffy made a substitution, replacing Jamie McDonagh with Lamie, who went to left-back while Doyle switched sides to his familiar right-back berth.
The Ton boss also reshuffled his midfield by pushing Nesbitt up through the middle in support of Shankland, bringing Lindsay back into the centre of midfield and moving Tidser out to the left.
Gary Naymith’s men were quickest out of the blocks again at the start of the second period, but both Lyndon Dykes and Thomas fired tame efforts straight at Gaston.
However, it was the hosts that would make the all important breakthrough with top scorer Forbes scoring to end the stalemate on 55 minutes.
It was goal of his own making too. Picking up the ball tight to the touchline after his own inswinging corner was headed out, the midfielder weaved his way into the box down the right with fancy footwork.
Forbes then slowed to pick his spot, opened his body and whipped the ball into the top-left corner with the aid of a Jamie Hamill deflection to net what would be the winning goal.
The Doonhamers thought they were back on level terms within five minutes until the officials ruled Thomson to have been in an offside position when he followed up to slam home after Gaston had parried Dobbie’s low drive.
Back at the other end, Queens custodian Robinson produced a magnificent save to prevent the Ton from doubling their advantage by spring up to his lift to tip Shankland’s searing strike over the top.
The flame-haired shot-stopper was called on again moments later, plunging to block Lindsay’s hooked shot with his feet after Forbes had found his team-mate’s run with a cute backheel.
Dumfries boss Naysmith gambled by making a treble substitution on 65 minutes, bringing on Dan Carmichael, Dale Hilson and Derek Lyle in place of Dobbie, Kyle Jacobs, and Dykes.
But it was to no avail as Morton comfortably saw the game out. Although Gaston was required to make a number of strong claims under pressure inside his box, he went unworked in terms of shots on target.
If anything, the hosts ended the game on the front foot, winning a series of late corners before Charleston blew the full-time whistle on a successful and extremely hard-fought 90 minutes.
18. McDonagh 2. Kilday (c) 4. O’Ware 6. Doyle
8. Forbes 21. Murdoch 12. Tidser 11. Nesbitt
Subs used: 3. Lamie (for McDonagh, 46), and 9. Oyenuga (for Tidser, 85).
Subs not used: 7. Oliver, 14. Scullion, 17. Russell, 19. Donnelly, 30. McGowan (gk).
Queen of the South (4141): Robinson; Hamill, Brownlie, Higgins, Mercer; Jacobs (Hilson, 65); Thomas, Thomson, Rankin (c), Dykes (Lyle, 65); Dobbie (Carmichael, 65).
Subs not used: Marshall, Sonkur, Murray, Atkinson (gk),
Booked: Robinson (45+2), Thomson (90+3).
Referee: Craig Charleston
Images: David Bell