Matchwinner Andy Murdoch struck with just nine minutes remaining as Morton secured three valuable points away at bottom side Brechin City this afternoon.
Jim Duffy’s side controlled the game and eventually got the goal their supremacy deserved when Murdoch found the net with an angled drive as the Ton finished the first quarter of the Championship campaign with a win.
The victory ended a run of two consecutive defeats, suffered away to Dundee United and at home to Falkirk, and Cappielow gaffer Duffy made three changes to the side that lost 1-0 to the Bairns.
Michael Tidser, Jai Quitongo, both of whom missed out last time, through illness and a hamstring problem respectively, and Robert Thomson, came in for the injured Connor McManus, Gary Harkins, and Gary Oliver.
Quitongo was deployed on the left-hand side of a midfield four and charged with getting up in support whenever he could, while Thomson and Bob McHugh were paired through the middle.
And the duo combined on 10 minutes to create the first real opening, Thomson clipping back from the left to pick out McHugh arriving in the centre.
But by the time the cross dropped and settled for McHugh to get his shot away, Brechin goalkeeper Graeme Smith had darted off his line to make a great block at the former Falkirk man’s feet.
Brechin had lined up in a 5-3-2 formation, in which right wing-back Aron Lynas rarely, if ever, ventured any further forward than his three centre-halves, making up an almost imprenetrable defensive barrier.
The Ton would hold sway on the compact Glebe Park pitch for the vast majority of the 90 minutes, but their dominance was not quite reflected in the number of clearcut goal-scoring chances fashioned over the piece.
It would be a further 20 minutes before the visitors would carve out another opening, Ross Forbes attempting to bypass the slightly lopsided back five by dropping a dangerous inswinging cross in behind.
Thomson flung his body at the delivery, and, although came close to getting a touch to the ball on the stretch, it just evaded his big toe and skidded wide.
Forbes looked the individual most likely to make the difference at this stage, and it was from two of his set-plays that the Greenock men went closest to scoring.
On 33 minutes, he was brought down by a robust slide-tackle by former Ton left-back Willie Dyer and took the free-kick himself, whipping the ball over the wall and narrowly wide of the left upright.
The playmaker went closer still in the final 60 seconds of the half, stepping up slightly to the right of centre, millimetres from the 18-yard line, after Thomson went down under a Ryan McGeever challenge.
This time Forbes took a different tack, bending a disguised shot around the left side of the wall and inside the post. He would have succeeded too but for a nick off the end of Brechin’s five-man barrier.
Forbes’ set-piece prowess continued to cause panic in the home ranks after the break, and skipper Thomas O’Ware got on the end of the playmaker’s inswinging free-kick from high on the right.
The defender, who was having an accomplished game at the back, was left frustrated with himself, though, as he failed to make a clean connection with his header and the ball skewed well wide.
O’Ware was on point on 50 minutes when he nodded another Forbes deadball over Smith and against the face of the crossbar, albeit he was offside and the ‘goal’ would not have counted in any case.
Brechin’s goal was leading a charmed life at this stage and they survived by the skin of their teeth on 66 minutes, Quitongo’s diving header from a McHugh centre clearing the bar by a matter of inches.
The visitors were given fresh attacking impetus when Duffy made a double change in the 68th minute, introducing the dynamism and direct wingplay of Scott Tiffoney and the guile and craft of Harkins.
The presence of Harkins, in particular, perturbed the home defence, and he tested Smith shortly after his arrival with a swept shot after Thomson had teed him up with an intelligent back roll with the sole of his boot.
However, the goal, when it did finally arrive in the final 10 minutes with time ticking away, came from the most unlikeliest of sources.
Picking up a second ball on the edge of the box, midfielder Murdoch fired an angled drive beyond the groping grasp of Brechin goalkeeper Smith and into the bottom-left corner to break the deadlock.
Although Ton remained patient, refused to panic and, ultimately, reaped the rewards, a flood of relief accompanied the goal, a tacit admission there were concerns beneath the veneer of professional calm.
It was no less than they deserved, however, and only some luck and impressive goalkeeping denied the Cappielow club a second in the closing stages.
Quitongo saw a low drive fizz across the face of goal and flash narrowly wide after taking a deflection, as did his replacement Oliver, while Harkins’ low free-kick was well saved by Smith.
But Murdoch’s goal proved enough to claim maximum points at a venue that promises to ask serious questions of any Championship side set to visit over the course of the fast-approaching winter months.
6. Doyle 4. O’Ware (c) 5. Lamie 17. Russell
8. Forbes 3. Murdoch 12. Tidser 9. Quitongo
11. McHugh 10. Thomson
Subs used: 14. Harkins (for Forbes, 68), 15. Tiffoney (for McHugh 68), and 7. Oliver (for Quitongo, 89).
Subs not used: 21. Langan, 22. Armour, 23. Barr, 20. Doohan (gk).
Brechin City (532): Smith; Lynas, Crighton, McGeever (Fusco, 74), McLean, Dyer; Graham, Dale, Sinclair (Layne, 82); Orsi, McLennan (Watt, 69).
Subs not used: Love, Spark, Smith, O’Neill (gk).
Referee: Colin Steven
Image (main): David Bell (Full Gallery)
Image (inset): Ross Cameron