Armour (13, 37 pen), Thomson (41), Miller (69 pen), Easdale (76) – Trialist (27)
Robert Thomson marked his comeback from a two-month injury lay-off with a goal as Morton Under-20s put 10-man Stranraer to the sword at Cappielow last night.
Ben Armour, who bagged a brace, Thomson, Scott Miller, and Alexander Easdale all netted to earn Derek Anderson’s side a fifth successive Development League West victory.
Ton beat Airdrie 2-1 at the Excelsior Stadium in their last outing, and, after coming off the bench to score in that game, Under-17s stars Shaun Rodgers and Jonathan Lyon were both handed their first starts for the 20s.
They were deployed as wing-backs in a 3-5-2 system that also included first-team squad members Lee Kilday, Lewis Strapp, Ruaridh Langan, Thomson, and Armour.
Striker Armour, who is currently on loan at Annan Athletic, got the ball rolling in the 13th minute by popping up inside the box to head home a dangerous Jack Purdue free-kick from the right.
Purdue’s deliveries were causing chaos, and another deep free-kick found Thomson. The towering targetman sent a downwards header towards goal, forcing keeper Ryan McLaren to push the ball wide of the right post.
But the Blues would score a surprise, and forunate, leveller against the run of play in the 27th minute through one of their seven starting trialists.
The man wearing the No. 11 shirt sent over a cross from the right that floated over the head of Daniel Farrell and dropped in under the bar at the left post.
Ton went close to retaking the lead twice in the space of a minute. First, Purdue drove forward and unleashed a drive that McLaren turned over before Kilday kissed the crossbar with a looping header from a Lyon corner.
The hosts were presented with the perfect chance to reclaim the lead and go on and take all three points when, on 34 minutes, Stranraer goalkeeper McLaren sent Armour sprawling inside the box.
The shot-stopper was sent off, leaving David MacGregor’s side a man short and with an outfield substitute between the sticks due to the fact they had no back-up keeper on the bench.
Armour picked himself up, dusted himself down and fired an emphatic spot-kick past the hapless stand-in down low to his right.
Fellow forward Thomson was making his first appearance since starting at home to Falkirk on 13 January due to a groin injury, and he hammered home the Ton’s advantage by making it 3-1 on 41 minutes.
The aerial assasin had been threatening to find the net with a header the whole half and succeeded by rising inside the box to nod Reece Lyon’s outswinging corner down into the net to put Ton on easy street at the break.
Director of youth Anderson made a treble substitution just after the hour, taking off the trio of Kilday, Thomson, and Armour and replacing them with Ben Docherty, Easdale, and Miller.
And the latter pair would make a significant impact in the final half hour, with the new frontline both scoring to wrap up a convincing win.
After striking the post immediately following his introduction, Miller then assumed responsibility from 12 yards after Strapp was barged over inside the box and rifled a penalty past the Stranraer goalkeeper at his right.
Ton’s sub strikeforce combined to add a fifth on 76 minutes, Miller arrowing in down the left and pulling back for the well-positioned Easdale to sweep inside the right-post.
Only an impressive save and a goal-line clearance prevented the pair from making it an even half dozen – but five was the magic number for Ton, both in terms of goals scored and consecutive victories racked up.
2. Kilday 6. Watt 3. Strapp
7. J. Lyon 5. Langan (c) 8. R. Lyon 10. Purdue 3. Rodgers
11. Thomson 9. Armour
Subs used: 12. Ben Docherty (for Kilday, 61), 14. Miller (for Armour, 61), 15. Easdale (for Thomson, 61), and 17. McGrattan (for Purdue, 72).
Subs not used: 17. Anderson, 19. Duffy, 20. Coyle.
Booked: Purdue (64).
Referee: Calum Scott
Images: Gary Bradley