Scullion (16), Orr (18, 80), Tidser (28), Langan (31) – McManus (46), Shields (84)
A phenomenal four-goal first-half showing set Morton Under-20s on course for a comfortable 5-2 win over Albion Rovers at Cappielow tonight to extend their lead at the Development League West summit to three points.
Jon Scullion got the ball rolling in spectacular fashion on 16 minutes after Lewis Strapp saw a marauding run down the left brought to a shuddering halt around 25 yards out.
Set-piece specialist Scullion took responsibility, wrapping his right boot around the ball and whipping the free-kick inside the left-hand post with power and precision in an outrageous demonstration of technique.
It was the diminutive frontman’s SIXTH goal in just three development squad appearances this term. Strike partner Thomas Orr, by contrast, has been finding goals hard to come by of late.
But after winning and converting a penalty at Queen of the South last week, 19-year-old Orr is looking more like the deadly predator who scored goals for fun at this level in recent years.
And he doubled the Ton teen’s advantage just two minutes after his strike-partner had broken the deadlock when he burst into the box and slammed a rising left-foot shot high into the net with utter conviction.
To say the traffic was one way at this stage is a gross understatement as Scott Tiffoney flashed two enticing centres across the face of the six-yard box before Michael Tidser just about grazed the outside of the right-hand upright with a free-kick.
The playmaker made a surprise but welcome return to the first-team bench for Saturday’s Betfred Cup semi-final against Aberdeen in what was, coincidentally, his first senior appearance since the Ton’s last visit to Hampden – a 2-0 loss to Queen’s Park in the Irn-Bru Cup.
Tidser stepped up his recovery with the full 90 minutes this evening, and put the cherry on the icing on the cake on 28 minutes with a swerving shot from fully 30 yards that flew into the net past the despairing dive of goalkeeper Daniel Potts.
Shortly after the half hour it was four, with Scullion the provider, clipping a measured pass over the top of a ragged Albion back four for skipper Ruaridh Langan to burst clear and slot through the advancing Pott’s legs.
Playing at this intensity, it would not have been too far fetched to suggest that Andy Millen’s could have at least doubled their tally, but football doesn’t work that way and the beleaguered visitors managed to find their bearings at the break.
So much so that they managed to pull a goal back within 30 seconds of the restart, striker Ryan McManus sweeping Connor Shields’ low cross from the right high past Jamie McGowan.
The second 45 was a much more even affair, but Orr added his second of the evening 10 minutes from time to restore his side’s four-goal cushion when he stretched to stab into the net from close-range following a cute nutmeg and precise cross from wideman Tiffoney.
Albion, though, would round off the scoring in the 84th minute through Shields, who seized on an opportunity to charge clear down the right and drill a low, angled drive past McGowan into the bottom-left corner.
Despite the slight disappointment of losing two goals after the interval, the Ton’s scintillating first half had already wrapped up the three points that would extend their lead at the top of the table following Ayr United’s 2-2 draw with Queen’s Park.
2. Tennent 5. Mitchell 4. Lamie 3. Strapp
10. Tiffoney 8. Langan (c) 6. Tidser 7. McWaters
9. Orr 11. Scullion
Subs used: 12. Hynes (for Tennent, 46), 16. Eardley (for Lamie, 70), and 14. Armour (for Scullion, 85).
Subs not used: 15. Purdue, 17. Docherty, 18. Duffy, 20. Connor (gk).
Referee: Graham Grainger
Images: Gary Bradley