Harkins (7) – Dobbie (44), Fordyce (47)
Morton surrendered an early lead as they conceded either side of half-time to lose 2-1 to Queen of the South at Cappielow this afternoon.
Gary Harkins converted a seventh-minute spot-kick to give Ton the lead, but Stephen Dobbie levelled a minute before the break and Callum Fordyce added a second shortly after the restart to turn the game on its head.
It was a role reversal of the Cappielow club’s recent outings in which they have been forced to fight back from behind three times in order to claim points against Dumbarton and St Mirren.
Manager Jim Duffy made two enforced changes to the team that drew in the Renfrewhire derby, replacing the injured Jai Quitongo and Thomas O’Ware, who failed a late fitness test, with Bob McHugh and Darren Barr.
Teenager Scott Tiffoney, meanwhile, retained his starting slot after a respectable showing against the Saints, and he was the first to threaten, seeing a stabbed attempt at a corner scrambled off the line.
At the other end of the age and experience spectrum is Harkins, whose late penalty saw the Ton pick up a point at the Paisley 2021 Stadium – and he was out back on the spot again after just seven minutes.
Referee Mat Northcroft awarded a penalty after McHugh had his heels clipped by Jason Kerr to prevent the striker latching onto Ricki Lamie’s measured pass down the inside left.
Harkins took centre stage with equally emphatic results, nonchalantly stroking the ball into the bottom-left corner while sending Alan Martin the wrong way in the process.
It was the 32-year-old’s second successive penalty conversion, his third of the season including the winner in a Betfred Cup shoot-out success against Queen’s Park, and his third goal of the campaign.
From then on in, though, things didn’t quite go according to plan for the hosts as they struggled to get up a head of steam and fully capitalise on making the breakthrough.
A couple of threatening Lyndon Dykes headers apart, the Doonhamers had not offered much to worry Derek Gaston in the Ton goal.
Crucially, however, they snatched an equaliser out of nothing right on the verge of half-time in a moment that would ultimately prove pivotal.
A hopeful John Rankin long ball launched at the heart of the home defence was smartly nodded down by Dykes into the path of Dobbie, and he dispatched a tidy, first-time half volley beyond Gaston to make it 1-1.
Whistler Northcroft blew for half-time shortly afterwards, sending the sides in at the interval with a completely different outlook than would have been the case 60 seconds beforehand.
If conceding right before the break was a serious setback, falling behind less than two minutes after the restart could be considered a hammer blow.
The hosts failed to deal with a James McFadden long throw into the box or react after Gaston had produced a fantastic reflex save, permitting Fordyce to follow up and slam home his own rebound from close range.
Unlike their incredible reponse against St Mirren seven days earlier, the Sinclair Street were largely flat for the remainder of the half.
Top scorer McHugh went close with a sharp swivel and snapshot that flashed just wide of the left post after taking a nick off a Queens defender on 60 minutes.
Teenager Tiffoney, deployed on the right flank, provided much of his side’s attacking impetus, deservedly earning him sponsors’ man of the match, but a series of dangerous deliveries went begging.
But Ton never quite looked like equalising, if truth be told, and in stretching their own undefeated streak to six matches, Gary Naysmith’s side ended the hosts own three-match unbeaten run.
6. Doyle 23. Barr 5. Lamie 17. Russell
15. Tiffoney 14. Harkins 3. Murdoch 8. Forbes (c)
11. McHugh 7. Oliver
Subs used: 10. Thomson (for Harkins, 70), 22. Armour (for Tiffoney, 87), 21. Langan (for Forbes, 90)
Subs not used: 36. Hynes, 20. Doohan (gk).
Queen of the South (442): Martin; Fordyce, Kerr, Brownlie, Marshall (Rooney, 87); Murray (Tapping, 68), Jacobs, Rankin, McFadden (Lyle, 78); Dykes, Dobbie.
Subs not used: Stirling, Kane, Mercer, Leighfield (gk).
Booked: Dobbie (40), McFadden (63), Jacobs (73).
Referee: Mat Northcroft
Image (main): Gary Bradley
Image (Inset): Ross Cameron