Maley (85) – Strapp (24), Purdue (27, 43, 65)
A Jack Purdue hat-trick helped Morton Under-20s to victory as they cruised to a comfortable 4-1 win over Stranraer at Stair Park last night to extend their lead at the top of the table to four points.
The Ton teens were held to a 2-2 a draw in their opening game of the 2016/17 Development League West campaign after opponents Stranraer scored a last minute equaliser to snatch a share of the spoils.
That was as recently as 6 September, and the reason Andy Millen’s men were back on the shores of Loch Ryan in such short order was because the fixture was reversed to accommodate tomorrow night’s rearranged derby against St Mirren.
On their last visit, they went 2-0 ahead thanks to a Jamie McDonagh double before conceding twice to surrender their lead and leave with just a point to show for their efforts
There were no such problems this time around, though, as the Greenock men made straightforward work of the Blues after taking the lead in slightly fortuitous circumstances on 24 minutes.
Left-back Lewis Strapp was the unlikely scorer, unleashing a shot from 20 yards under pressure which took a deflection off the man closing him down and looped up over goalkeeper Daryl Smith open the scoring.
Hat-trick hero Purdue added a second three minutes later, sneaking between shot-stopper Smith and defender David Anderson as they both hesitated in the face of a bouncing ball to knee into the empty net.
Winger Scott Tiffoney was tormenting the hosts, and Purdue owed both the second and third goals to the 18-year-old’s electric approach play.
On 43 minutes, he expertly manoeuvred round a challenge with a swivel of the hips whilst taking in a Darren Hynes throw-in to open up space for a cross from the bye-line.
His dangerous delivery fizzed across the six-yard box and found Purdue arriving beyond the far post, and the midfielder took a touch to open out his body before bending an emphatic finish back inside the right post.
Even the parents of Stranraer players watching from the stand were raving about the performance of the talented Tiffoney, and commented to gmfc.net how their own team just could not cope with him.
They weren’t wrong, and this was in evidence again on 65 minutes when he turned on the afterburners to drive past two home defenders before attempting to catch out goalkeeper Smith by flashing off an early shot from a tight angle.
The Blues No.1 managed to react in time but only succeeded in parrying the ball into the path of Purdue, who held off a defender to gleefully stab the ball into the gaping net to complete his hat-trick.
Morton continued to create chances, but after a dominant first half display in which the game was won, the intensity dropped a little in the second 45 by comparison, and the hosts pulled back a late consolation goal.
Substitute Evan Maley scored in the last meeting and it was the forward who weaved in off the right flank and fired a fine, left-footed strike high past Jamie McGowan at his left from 20 yards on 85 minutes.
The night belonged to the as yet unbeaten Ton, though – for whom Michael Tidser also got a further 78 minutes under his belt – as they stretched their winning run to seven successive matches as well as building on their lead at the league summit.
2. Hynes 4. Tennent 5. Mitchell 3. Strapp
11. Tiffoney 8. Langan (c) 6. Tidser 7. McWaters
Subs used: 12. Anderson (for Tidser, 78), 14. Duffy (for Hynes, 80), and 15. Armour (for Purdue, 80).
Subs not used: 20 Connor (gk).
Image: William McCandlish