Tidser (26 pen, 49 pen), McHugh (72), Murdoch (77) – Smith (40)
Rampant Morton recorded a resounding 4-1 Renfrewshire derby victory against rivals St Mirren at Cappielow this afternoon in their first home fixture of the Ladbrokes Championship season.
Two-goal hero Michael Tidser converted penalties either side of Cammy Smith’s equaliser before Bob McHugh and Andy Murdoch wrapped up a memorable win in the final 20 minutes of the second half.
Jim Duffy’s men started the league campaign in less conspicuous fashion seven days earlier with a goalless draw away at Dumbarton, and the Greenock gaffer made one change to his starting line-up.
Taking a calculated gamble on the fitness of Thomas O’Ware, he restored the talismanic defender to the starting line-up in place of Connor McManus despite not featuring at all this season.
Duffy also tweaked his system, switching from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 by pulling Robert Thomson from the frontline and out to the left to make up a four-man midfield, with Jai Quitongo and Bob McHugh through the middle.
Quitongo would torment the Saints with his lightning pace and direct style, and, after an opening 20 minutes in which the teams traded chances, with Ross Forbes grazing the roof of the net with a free-kick, his dynamism earned his side a spot-kick.
The teenager outstripped Jack Baird down the inside right and was sent tumbling by the defender as he attempted to fire the ball across the face of the six-yard box. Referee Willie Collum awarded the penalty and booked Baird for the foul.
Tidser is the Ton’s designated taker having successfully converted in pre-season matches against Partick Thistle and Turriff United, and he demonstrated why by coolly placing the ball to the left while Craig Samson dived to his right.
St Mirren really couldn’t get to grips with Quitongo, and he picked out McHugh with a brilliant pull-back on 38 minutes, presenting his strike-partner with a gilt-edged opportunity from six yards.
The former Falkirk frontman, though, fired a first-time snapshot into the ground, giving Samson an extra fraction of a second in which to react and paw the ball over the crossbar whilst down on his knees.
They went closer still from the resultant corner, high scoring defender O’Ware heading Forbes’ inswinger wide from inside the six-yard box. He himself appeared stunned not to have hit the target and found the net.
And the hosts were punished for their profligacy when, with just four minutes until the break, Saints wideman Smith advanced unopposed and lashed a fine finish into the top-right corner from 25 yards to send the sides in level.
It was incredibly harsh on the Ton, and the home support could have been forgiven for fearing the worst with the Paisley outfit likely to come back out for the second period with wind in their sails.
This, however, would not be the case. Far from it in fact, as a swashbuckling Sinclair Street side would go on to score three times in the second 45 to claim an unforgettable three points
They retook the lead just four minutes after the restart thanks to another penalty, awarded when Baird bundled over McHugh inside the box after the hitman squeezed in front of the centre-half.
Baird was shown a straight red card to reduce the Saints to 10 men, and Tidser compounded their misery by nonchalantly whipping his spot-kick inside the right-hand post to score his second of the afternoon. And boy did he enjoy it.
Saints boss Jack Ross reacted by replacing striker John Sutton with a defender in Gregor Buchanan, but it would not plug the gaps and Morton would add two more in the final 20 minutes.
The irrespressible Quitongo showed Gary MacKenzie a clean pair of heels down the right before finding McHugh with a precise pull-back, which he controlled before whipping an angled shot across Samson and inside the left-hand post.
It has been a fantastic start to life in Greenock for McHugh. He now has four goals in five starts and one substitute appearance – and the 26-year-old laid on the fourth and final goal of this demolition derby.
The move began with a Mark Russell pass down the left channel for substitute Gary Harkins. Ex-Saint Harkins then slipped the ball inside to McHugh, and he waited for the opportune moment to feed Murdoch overlapping on the right.
Murdoch is not known for his goal scoring, but a seasoned striker would have been proud of the way he took the pass in his stride and slotted under the advancing Samson to round off the scoring.
Coincidentally, the midfielder’s only other Morton goal came in the last Renfrewshire derby, which St Mirren won 4-1 at Cappielow back in April.
In an official club media video interview previewing the upcoming clash, playmaker Forbes spoke of the team’s desire to put that result right this weekend – and they succeeded in some style.
6. Doyle 4. O’Ware (c) 5. Lamie 17. Russell
3. Murdoch 8. Forbes 12. Tidser 10. Thomson
9. Quitongo 11. McHugh
Subs used: 14. Harkins (for Quitongo, 75), 18. McManus (for Doyle, 88), and 7. Oliver (for Forbes, 85).
Subs not used: 15. Tiffoney, 16. Strapp, 26. Iredale, 30. McGowan (gk).
Booked: Quitongo (25).
St Mirren (442): Samson; Irvine, Baird, MacKenzie, Demetriou; Smith, McShane, McGinn (c), Morgan; Sutton (Buchanan, 50), Reilly (R. Stewart, 64).
Subs not used: Duffy, Kirkpatrick, O’Keefe, Eckersley, R. Stewart (gk).
Booked: Baird (25), Samson (25), Irvine (90).
Sent Off: Baird (50).
Referee: Willie Collum
Image (main): Gary Bradley
Image (inset): David Bell