McHugh (85), Barr (90+3) – Wharton (70), Orr (81)
Morton win 4-2 on pens
McHugh x – Orr x
Tiffoney ✓ – Cummins ✓
Murdoch ✓ – Wharton ✓
Lamie ✓ – K. Green x
Morton scored twice in the last five minutes to stage a stunning fightback that saw them salvage a 2-2 draw with Queen’s Park before claiming a bonus point on penalties in last night’s Betfred Cup tie at Cappielow.
After dominating the entirety of the first half, the Ton found somehow themselves trailing by two goals with just nine minutes remaining due to goals from Bryan Wharton and ex-Cappielow hitman Thomas Orr.
But Bob McHugh gave his side hope by pulling one back on 85 minutes before player/under-20s coach Darren Barr dramatically rescued a point by volleying home the equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time.
The Betfred Cup format, introduced at the beginning of last season, sees drawn group section fixtures head to spot-kicks for a bonus point.
Although McHugh missed for the hosts, Scott Tiffoney, Andy Murdoch and Ricki Lamie all converted while goalkeeper Derek Gaston saved from Orr and Kevin Green, setting up Gary Harkins to seal the win by scoring the fifth.
It took the Ton to the top of Group F, ahead of the inactive Motherwell, whose manager Steve Robinson and assistant Keith Lasley were both in attendance, on five points after claiming a win at Berwick on Saturday.
Manager Jim Duffy made two changes to the team that succeeded at Shielfield, with an ill Gary Oliver dropping out to be replaced Robert Thomson, and Ross Forbes coming in for Jai Quitongo, with Harkins moving up top.
The first 45 minutes were reminiscent of the weekend win south of the border as the Ton took control of possession and carved out a number of chances.
Debutant Thomson was presented with a number of headed chances over the piece, his first, from McHugh’s ball across the face of goal, was well saved by William Muir.
The Queen’s custodian was then required to scramble back and palm the ball over the top after a Harkins shot took a huge deflection and looked to be dropping in under the crossbar.
Gus MacPherson’s team, set up in a 5-3-2 formation, were penned in, but managed their first meaningful attack on 23 minutes.
The move ended with Ross Millen hitting the target with a 25 yard free-kick, which home custodian Derek Gaston gathered comfortably down to his left.
How the hosts never edged in front on the half hour is anyone’s guess after Muir did superbly well to thwart Thomson twice in quick succession, clawing the No.10’s initial header clear before blocking his follow up effort.
Targetman Thomson had one final opportunity in the closing minutes of the half but he nodded Michael Doyle’s cross down into the grass, taking a lot of the sting out of his header, allowing Muir to get across to catch.
The ex-Sons striker was first to threaten after the break; however, his luck just wasn’t in and he bulleted straight at the Spiders shot-stopper from six yards after throwing himself at Forbes swirling cross from the right.
For all he was regularly called into action, Muir wasn’t called on to make many exceptional saves, and in beating clear Tidser’s swerving 58th minute drive with both hands, he made one of his more meaningful stops.
Another followed seven minutes later when substitute Jai Quitongo forced him to turn the ball wide low to his left with a stinging angled drive shortly after joining the fray.
Morton, though, weren’t nearly as dominant in the second half as they were before the interval, and they survived two major scares in a 30-second spell.
First, Gaston arched back to tip over the top after a David Galt free-kick took a nick off Lamie’s head as it whipped towards goal, and then Mark Russell, stationed on the right post, was required to volley an Orr effort off the line.
But the League One outfit would take the lead when, on 70 minutes, defender Wharton planted a powerful header past the Ton keeper after meeting Galt’s free-kick from the right.
It looked game, set, and match when ex-Ton striker Orr took advantage of a break of the ball by slotting past Gaston after going clear one-on-one night minutes from time.
However, over the course of the last three seasons, Duffy’s Morton squad has established a reputation as a group who refuse to accept any situation as a lost cause.
And McHugh provided a glimmer of hope on 85 minutes, slotting in from seven yards after Tiffoney latched onto Harkins’ clever backheel, drove to the bye-line and pulled back for the striker, who has five goals in four matches.
The Sinclair Street side piled on the pressure in the closing stages, and Barr completed the comeback by firing into the net with virtually the last kick of the ball after Thomson headed down a Harkins corner.
From there it was to penalties to decide who would claim a bonus point. McHugh went first and dragged wide of the left post before Gaston dug his team-mate out of a hole by blocking Orr’s kick.
Tiffoney, Adam Cummins, Andy Murdoch, Wharton, and Lamie were all successful from 12 yards before Gaston saved from Kevin Green to leave Harkins with the chance to win it.
The Greenock native nonchalantly rolled the ball into the bottom left corner as Muir went the wrong way to help his hometown team snatch two points from the jaws of defeat,
6. Doyle 23. Barr 5. Lamie 17. Russell
3. Murdoch 8. Forbes 12. Tidser (c)
11. McHugh 14. Harkins 10. Thomson
Subs used: 9. Quitongo (for Tidser, 62), and 15. Tiffoney (for Forbes, 79).
Subs not used: 16. Strapp, 21. Langan, 22. Armour, 30. McGowan (gk).
Queen’s Park (532): Muir; Millen, Wharton, K. Green, Cummins, Burns; McVey, Docherty, Brady; MacPherson (Orr, 52), Duff (Galt, 62)
Subs not used: D. Green, Bailey, Mortimer, Docherty, White (gk).
Booked: Docherty (51)
Referee: Colin Steven
Images: David Bell
Full Gallery: Tontastic