Hilton (13 pen, 86 pen) – Lyon (80)
Morton Under-20s suffered a devastating late loss away to Ayr United last night after seeing two players sent off and two penalties awarded to the opposition.
The Development League West clash, staged at Cumnock Juniors’ Townhead Park, was Darren Barr’s side’s first loss in six matches.
They were left facing an uphill struggle when the Honest Men were awarded a 13th-minute spot-kick following a Nathan Durham foul on James Hilton.
The 20-year-old winger dusted himself down and fired a confident effort down the middle, converting successfully as goalkeeper Charlie Carracher dived to his left.
Ton responded positively to the early setback, and in-form frontman Ben Armour passed up an excellent chance to equalise on 31 minutes when he was sent racing clear on goal but stabbed wide of the target.
Following an impressive display against St Mirren in the Scottish Youth Cup and with regular shot-stopper Jamie McGowan out with a dislocated shoulder, Under-17s ace Carracher started between the sticks.
The 15-year-old kept his side in the game in the early minutes of the second half, doing superbly well to touch a Hilton shot onto the crossbar at his top left corner.
He soon performed another moment of magic, one that earned praise from a group of Ayr fans, producing another excellent save to deny Kieran Balfour after he had been picked out by a Mark McKenzie pull-back.
But impressive goalkeeping wasn’t the sole preserve of Ton’s diminutive kid gloves, Ayr’s New Zealand-born Ellis Reid made a big save at the opposite end, blocking from David Anderson from point-blank range.
Morton were left facing a mountain to climb when defender Durham was shown a straight red card for denying a goal-scoring opportunity despite appearing to cleanly win the ball with his challenge.
It was a mystifying decision that caused much consternation in the away dugout and out on the park, with Carracher shown a yellow card for dissent as a result.
Perhaps fired up by the injustice or just because he was in fine form, the goalkeeper excelled himself by keeping out the resultant free-kick, stretching every sinew to push a Luke McCowan free-kick clear at his right.
Yet, despite their man disadvantage, the Ton drew level with 10 minutes remaining, polished midfielder Reece Lyon sending a superb looping header into the net off the underside of the bar after an Alexander Easdale assist.
But just when Barr’s boys looked to have rescued a point, whistler Lloyd Wilson pointed to the spot for a second time for an alleged foul inside the box in the 85th minute by sub Cammy Hayes.
It was difficult to discern where the infringement had occured and a nonplussed Lyon was cautioned in the aftermath as he questioned the assistant referee.
Hilton, meanwhile, consumately dispatched his second spot-kick of the evening, placing a firm penalty into the bottom-right corner to grab victory from the jaws of a draw.
The controversial manner of the defeat left the Ton camp furious and, as they left the field, Mitchell Duffy was shown a red card for alleged foul and abusive language.
2. Hynes 4. Langan (c) 5. Durham 3. Duffy
7. Anderson 6. Lyon 8. McGrattan 11. Docherty
Subs used: 14. Easdale (for Purdue, 69), 15. Hayes (for Docherty, 77), and 12. Miller (for McGrattan, 87).
Subs not used: 16. Barr, 20. Trialist (gk).
Booked: Langan (58), Carracher (74), Lyon (85).
Sent off: Durham (73), Duffy (Post-match).
Referee: Lloyd Wilson
Images: Gerry Lafferty