Tidser missed pen (82) – Todorov (25), Mullen (70)
Morton were brought back down to Earth with a bump last night after suffering a disappointing 2-0 loss to Livington in the Irn-Bru Cup.
Just three days after a 4-1 league success against rivals St Mirren, goals from Nikolay Todorov and Danny Mullen saw Ton fall at the first hurdle and exit the competition.
The night was succinctly summed up when, after successfully converting two penalties against the Saints, Michael Tidser crashed a spot-kick against the crossbar in the closing stages.
Manager Jim Duffy admitted he was always of a mind to make a number of changes following Saturday’s derby, and he swapped out four players for the Challenge Cup fixture.
Ricki Lamie, Jai Quitongo, Robert Thomson and Mark Russell made way for Jack Iredale, Gary Harkins, Connor McManus and Lewis Strapp.
Thomas O’Ware continued in the centre of defence as the Ton boss looked to give him valuable game time, but after adrenaline got him through the weekend’s match, he looked a little rusty here.
And it was the captain who didn’t quite get enough on a header back to Derek Gaston as he attempted to deal with a long ball, and that allowed Hearts loanee Todorov to nip in and loft the ball over the hapless home goalkeeper.
Until that point, Morton had been in conrol of the game, albeit without necessarily excelling, but the goal appeared to spook them and they never recovered.
It took until 52 minutes for former Scotland international Neil Alexander to see any real involvement when he made a straightforward catch from a powerful Tidser strike from distance.
At the opposite end, Gaston bailed out team-mate O’Ware with a brilliant block to deny Italian Raffaele De Vita from point-blank range after the defender had miscued a clearance inside the box.
Duffy made a double change on the hour in an attempt to rouse his side from their slumber, bringing on strikers Gary Oliver and Quitongo in place of midfielders Andy Murdoch and McManus.
The introduction of Quitongo, in particular, injected life into the Sinclair Street side. They immediately looked more of a threat with the teenager winning a series of corners after exposing the opposition down the right.
Any renewed hope was nipped in the bud, however, when Livingston added a soft second on 70 minutes> The impressive Scott Pittman squared for sub Mullen to scoop over an exposed Gaston from deep inside the box.
Mullen really should have put the tie to bed eight minutes later but pulled a hurried shot wide of the left-hand post after bursting through on goal down the inside-left channel.
Ton eventually came to life in the final 10 minutes, and they were presented with a fantastic chance to throw themselves a lifeline from 12 yards.
Referee Colin Steven pointed to the spot after Jackson Longridge blocked McHugh’s cross from the right with a flailing arm, and Tidser confidently stepped up on the back of two successful conversions on Saturday.
The assured midfielder decided to go down the middle this time. Unfortunately, his powerful penalty was too high and cannoned back off the crossbar.
Tidser was foiled by the frame of the goal again on 85 minutes. On this occasion, he unleashed a swerving drive from 30 yards that agonisingly crashed back off almost the exact same spot on the woodwork.
Despite that frantic finale it was all a bit too little, too late from the Greenock men, and David Hopkin’s Livingston held out to book a deserved place in tomorrow’s second round draw.
6. Doyle 4. O’Ware (c) 26. Iredale 16. Strapp
8. Forbes 3. Murdoch 18. McManus 12. Tidser
11. McHugh 14. Harkins
Subs used: 7. Oliver (for McManus, 60), 9. Quitongo (for Murdoch, 60), and 10. Thomson (for Harkins, 81).
Subs not used: 5. Lamie, 15. Tiffoney, 17. Russell, 30. McGowan (gk).
Booked: McManus (35).
Livingston (3511): Alexander; Lithgow (Mackin, 57), Halkett (c), Longridge; Mullin (Brown, 72), Pittman, Thomson, De Vita, Cadden; Knox (Mullen, 62); Todorov
Subs not used: Carrick, Peters, Hamilton, Maley (gk).
Booked: Longridge (87), Thomson (90+4).
Referee: Colin Steven
Images: Gary Bradley
Image (inset): Ross Cameron