Morton got back to winning ways at Raith Rovers tonight with a hard-fought 1-0 victory that saw them leapfrog Falkirk into third in the Ladbrokes Championship and home boss Gary Locke pay for the defeat with his job.
The Cappielow club came into the match off the back of a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Queen of the South that put paid to their seven-game unbeaten run and saw them slip behind the Bairns on goals scored.
But they bounced back in the best way possible by showing tremendous character to grind out a narrow victory on a horrible night away at Stark’s Park against a Rovers side desperate to end a 13-match search for a win.
Manager Jim Duffy freshened up his team with four changes to the starting XI that lost at Dumfries at the weekend, handing a start to new loan signing Luke Donnelly in place of the injured Gary Oliver.
Elsewhere, Ross Forbes, who suffered a dead leg against the Doonhamers, Andy Murdoch, and Aidan Nesbitt were replaced by Jamie McDonagh, Michael Tidser and Lee Kilday.
As part of the changes, the Ton boss reshuffled his team, partnering Kilday and Lamie in central defensive in order to move Thomas O’Ware into central midfield, with Tidser operating on the left-hand side.
Much like at the weekend, the first-half was something of a non-event and devoid of goal-mouth incidents if packed with endeavour and effort on a horrendously wet night in Fife.
For the Ton, Lindsay took a free-kick tight to the left bye-line on nine minutes and dropped a dangerous dipping strike under the bar, but goalkeeper Conor Brennan did well to claim and clutch the ball.
At the opposite end, Derek Gaston earned his corn with a phenomenal treble save in which he first parried Ross Callachan’s fierce drive from distance before making two fine reaction blocks to thwart Ryan Hardie on the follow up.
Otherwise, there were a couple of half-chances involving McDonagh and ex-Ton man Bobby Barr, while Thomas O’Ware went closest when he nodded a Michael Doyle cross over the top on the stretch.
Ton stepped it up a level after the break and crucially opened the scoring in 53 minutes, skipper Kilday showing great aerial ability to rise like a salmon and steer a header past Brennan after attacking Michael Tidser’s teasing inswinging free-kick from the right.
Lawrence Shankland should have made it 2-0 shortly afterwards but skewed a side-footed effort wide from close-range after flying full-back Mark Russell found him with a low cross from the left.
O’Ware was next up to try his luck, striding onto a loose ball 20 yards out and unleashing a low drive that flashed across the slick surface and fizzed inches wide of the right-hand upright.
With Forbes on the bench, Tidser took charge of a free-kick opportunity in a central position 22 yards out on 72 minutes and forced Brennan to scramble across his line to prevent the effort creeping inside his right post.
After that spell of concerted pressure, however, the final 20 minutes were all about digging deep, and the likes of Lindsay, Kilday and Ricki Lamie were real pillars of strength.
The closest the hosts came to salvaging a draw was when former Cappielow hitman and Raith substitute Declan McManus sent a header sailing narrowly wide after Jason Thomson had nodded a Bobby Barr cross back into him arriving at the penalty spot.
They failed to muster anything clearcut, though, as, to a man, the Ton ran themselves into the ground and gave every ounce of effort as they professionally and diligently saw out the game to collect what could prove to be a hugely significant three points.
6. Doyle 2. Kilday (c) 3. Lamie 17. Russell
16. McDonagh 10. Lindsay 4. O’Ware 12. Tidser
Subs used: 11. Nesbitt (for Donnelly, 73).
Subs not used: 8. Forbes, 14. Scullion, 21. Murdoch, 37. Tiffoney, 39. Strapp, 30. McGowan (gk).
Booked: Tidser (70).
Raith Rovers (3511): Brennan; M’Voto, C. Barr, Benedictus; Thomson (Skacel, 83), Callachan (McManus, 62), Davidson, Thompson, B. Barr; Hardie; Stevenson (Stewart, 62).
Subs not used: McHattie, Johnston, Matthews, Roberts.
Booked: Thomson (9), C. Barr (65), Davidson (81), B. Barr (85).
Referee: Gavin Duncan
Attendance: 1,161 (266 away fans)
Images: David Bell