Warren (19) – Thomson (51)
Morton came from behind to claim a creditable 1-1 draw away at Inverness Caledonian Thistle this afternoon in the proverbial game of two halves.
Defender Gary Warren fired John Robertson’s side in front after 19 minutes in the Highland capital, and they were well worth their 1-0 lead at the interval.
The Ton came back out for the second half with a renewed sense of purpose, however, and completely controlled the game after the break.
Forward Robert Thomson equalised with a fine header – his third goal for the club and first in the league – but also passed up a great chance as Jim Duffy’s men came within a whisker of snatching all three points.
To put the outcome in perspective, it matches the Ton’s best ever result at the Caledonian Stadium when loan star Paddy Connolly scored in a 1-1 draw on their first ever visit way back in 1999.
All seven of the remaining meetings have ended in defeat, often of the emphatic variety, including two 4-0 losses – one of which was the most recent meeting in 2013 – a 5-1, a 4-1, a 4-2, and even a 6-2 reverse.
Therefore, despite the fact recently relegated Caley currently prop up the Ladbrokes Championship, they have always been a tough nut to crack on home turf. Securing a share of the spoils here is no mean feat.
That was particularly the case for a team that went in at the break trailing after a poor first-half performance that was in keeping with the under-par display against Livingston in the Irn-Bru Cup.
Inverness came at the Ton with wave after wave of attack in the first 20 minutes and penned the beleaguered visitors in their own half.
Midfielder Liam Polworth was at the heart of a lot of his side’s most enterprising work in the final third, forcing a smart save from Derek Gaston on seven minutes after bursting into the box down the inside-left channel.
He went closer still two minutes later with a searing strike from distance that required Ton shot-stopper Gaston, who retained his starting slot ahead of new loan signing Ross Doohan, to tip the ball behind.
Inverness recently lost key engine-room operator Ross Draper to rivals Ross County, but they have done well to hold on to Iain Vigurs following their relegation.
It was the former Motherwell man who fashioned their next big opening with a fantastic inswinging flag-kick that found John Baird lurking beyond the far post. The striker somehow scooped a half-volley over the bar, though.
The Greenock men looked to have enjoyed another let-off when an ill-advised Michael Doyle slide-tackle on Riccardo Calder, for which he was booked, was adjudged to have occured fractionally outside the box.
It would matter little in the end, though, as Ton were punished from the free-kick in any case, defender Warren diverting Polworth’s dangerous right-footed delivery past Gaston and into the net.
It took conceding the goal and a tactical switch by Duffy, in which he swapped Jai Quitongo and Thomson’s starting positions in order to give them more of a focal point through the middle, to settle the visitors down.
While they did not test Mark Ridgers in the home goal, Morton mustered more in the final 10 to 15 minutes, enjoying periods of possession in the opposition half for the first time.
They cranked it up a notch in the second half, more than likely off the back of a rare half-time rollocking from gaffer Duffy, and turned the game on its head.
Thomson, who was by now back on the left of midfled after his earlier soujourn through the middle, levelled the scores within six minutes of the restart.
A set-play ended with Ricki Lamie crashing a shot against a defender inside the box. He span and retrieved the loose ball and whipped over a cross that any winger would have been proud of.
Towering targetman Thomson made the most of the teasing delivery, flashing across the front of a defender after assessing the flight path before expertly guiding a glancing header across Ridgers and inside the left post.
By his own admission, the 24-year-old really should have fired his side in front on 66 minutes, but both he and Bob McHugh failed to find the net from close range.
Quitongo squeezed into the box off the left and stabbed across the face of goal. It broke for McHugh in the first instance, but his shot was blocked on the line before Thomson’s follow up was somehow smothered by Ridgers.
The first half roles had entirely reversed, and Morton looked likely to take advantage of a jittery Inverness Caley side by scoring a second.
Michael Tidser carved out another reasonable opening on 77 minutes when he eased into the area and picked out McHugh with a precise pull-back.
The former Falkirk frontman wasn’t as razor sharp as usual though. His shot lacked punch and also appeared to take a slight nick off a defender on its way through, allowing Ridgers to drop to his left to save.
Inverness were reduced to 10 men when Collin Seedorf, nephew of former Real Madrid and AC Milan star Clarence, was sent off for a foul on Mark Russell that saw him receive his second caution of the afternoon.
However, the dismissal was dished out in the final minute, leaving Morton with very little time in which to really push home their man advantage and sneak all three points.
A draw, though, still offered real reason for optimism, particularly when the result is placed in a historical context.
6. Doyle 4. O’Ware (c) 5. Lamie 17. Russell
3. Murdoch 8. Forbes 12. Tidser 10. Thomson
11. McHugh 9. Quitongo
Subs used: 7. Oliver (for McHugh, 80), 9. Quitongo (for Tiffoney, 89), and 14. Harkins (for Forbes, 90+1).
Subs not used: 18. McManus, 26. Iredale, 20. Doohan (gk).
Booked: Doyle (18).
Inverness C.T. (442): Ridgers; Seedorf, McKay, Warren, Chalmers; Polworth, Trafford, Vigurs, Calder (Mulraney, 69); Baird (Bell, 62), Oakley (Raven, 90+1).
Subs not used: Elsdon, Esson (gk).
Booked: Vigurs (30), Seedorf (32), Trafford (50).
Sent off: Seedorf (90).
Referee: Stephen Finnie
Image: David Bell