Manderson (86) – Quitongo (34), Langan (60)
Jai Quitongo marked his comeback from a month-long absence with a goal as Morton Under-20s won 2-1 against Queen’s Park at Lesser Hampden last night.
The striker was joined in the starting line-up by fellow first-team regular Michael Tidser, who was making his first appearance in over six weeks due to an adductor injury picked up in training in mid-October.
At the other end of the experience spectrum, Under-17s midfielder Lewis McGrattan made his second start for the development squad, with Lewis Strapp also making a rare appearance due to his loan at Elgin City.
On an eventful evening, Ruaridh Langan was the individual who would experience the most action-packed 90 minutes, starting with him heading a Tidser free-kick against the left post.
Ton were quickly on top, with Tidser and midfield protege Reece Lyon controlling the game in the middle of the park, and opened the scoring after 34 minutes.
The impressive Quitongo was the scorer, showing the mental strength and confidence in his physical condition to go in to, and come out on top of, a crunching 50-50 challenge on the left.
He then emerged with the ball, drove past a Spiders defender as though he wasn’t there before finally bending a brilliant low shot around goalkeeper Elliot Anderson and in off the right post to net an outstanding goal.
Only a fantastic Anderson save prevented Quitongo from doubling his tally when he blocked an attempt to prod the ball past him after McGrattan had slipped the striker in on goal with a cute first-time pass.
Darren Barr and his side’s cause was assisted five minutes after the restart due to the dismissal of Queen’s Park’s Anton Houghton based on foul and abusive language.
And the outcome appeared to be put beyond any reasonable doubt when Langan got his head on the end of David Anderson’s inswinging cross from the left and bulleted down into the net from close range.
It was the development squad skipper’s third goal in four matches, as well as taking the increasingly influential Anderson to three assists in his last five outings.
With the match winding down, boss Barr withdrew the likes of Strapp, Quitongo, and Tidser after giving the trio valuable run-outs.
But there was a memorable and worrying twist to come, leaving the youthful stars out on the field facing a thorough examination of their collective character in the final six minutes.
Goalkeeper Jamie McGowan was forced off injured with what was later confirmed to be a dislocated shoulder suffered as he attempted to claim a cross.
In normal circumstances, sub keeper Charlie Carracher, who excelled against St Mirren in the Scottish Youth Cup on Sunday, would have taken possession of the gloves.
However, the Ton had already used their full quota of substitutions, leaving captain Langan to pull on the red goalkeeper’s jersey and see out the game between the sticks.
When Queen’s Park striker Joseph Manderson rifled a shot into the top-left corner to make it 2-1 on 86 minutes, a feeling of dread hung in the air.
The Ton teenagers showed their mettle in the closing stages, though, seeing out over five minutes of stoppage time to claim the win and complete an impressive four-day period.
2. Duffy 4. Langan (c) 5. Durham 3. Strapp
7. Anderson 8. Lyon 6. Tidser 11. McGrattan
9. Armour 10. Quitongo
Subs used: 18. Hayes (for Strapp, 61), 16. Easdale (for Quitongo, 71), and 14. Docherty (for Tidser, 76).
Subs not used: 12. Miller, 15. Purdue, 17. Hynes, 20. Carracher (GK).
Images: Gerry Lafferty