D. Falconer (50), Wilson (55) – Langan (27), Rodgers (32)
Morton Under-20s’ outside chance of winning the Development League West title was officially ended by a 2-2 draw away at Albion Rovers last night.
The Ton teens had clawed their way back into contention with an impressive run of six successive victories since the turn of the year.
But last week’s loss at Queen of the South and this share of the spoils at Cliftonhill combined to close the window on finishing on top of the pile.
It was always an unlikely outcome in any case due to the point differential, but the development squad have to be commended for resuscitating their aspirations.
Last-night’s first-half performance in Coatbridge was the perfect example of why they had managed to put together a solid run of results.
They would go in at the break with a two-goal advantage, but it could well have been more but for a couple of missed chances, including Scotland Schools defender Gavin Watt screwing a close-range volley wide.
Like Under-17s defender Watt, academy team-mate Shaun Rodgers has cemented his place in the Under-20s team in recent months.
And the 16-year-old hot prospect was at the heart of both Ton goals, starting by delivering the corner from which they opened the scoring on 27 minutes when he picked out Ruaridh Langan.
The inswinging flag-kick floated beyond the far post and skipper Langan did well to return the ball with a first-time lob over goalkeeper Daniel Potts that was adjudged to have crossed the line before it was cleared.
Rodgers then scored the second himself, finishing off an incisive attack that started with Alexander Easdale flicking a clever reverse ball round the corner for Jack Purdue.
The Ton No.8 then fed a perfectly-weighted angled pass ahead of the left wing-back, which he took in his path without breaking his stride before slowing and rifling a low drive through Potts’ legs.
There was nothing that occurred in the first half to suggest that the visitors would do anything but add to their lead after the break; yet they found themselves pegged back within 10 minutes of the restart.
Dylan Falconer cut their advantage in half on 50 minutes, showing real determination to slide in and turn a low Jack Stewart cross from the left into the net.
Parity was restored five minutes later when David Munro did superbly well to chop inside a Ton challenge to create space in the box before thrashing a low drive inside the right post.
Ton steadied the ship after that early tornado of Albion Rovers attacks and created two reasonable opportunitues to retake the lead.
On 67 minutes, Armour raced after a Langan pass over the top, expertly lofted over Potts, steadied himself and tried to whip into the net from close to the bye-line only to see a defender recover in time to clear off the line.
Armour was presented with another chance when Ben Eardley fired over a cross from the right, the force of which seemed to catch the striker by surprise, causing him to screw a header wide from close-range.
It proved to be Derek Anderson’s side’s last real chance of the match and they were forced to settle for a point in their final away game of the 2017/18 campaign.
They still have three home fixtures left to complete, however, with second-placed Airdrieonians the guests at Cappielow this Friday night.
2. Duffy 6. Watt 3. Trialist
7. J. Lyon 4. Eardley 5. Langan (c) 11. Rodgers
9. Armour 10. Easdale
Subs used: 14. Ben Docherty (for Trialist, 65), 12. McGrattan (for J. Lyon, 70), and 17. A. Duffy (for Purdue, 87).
Subs not used: 15. Gallacher, 18. Campbell, 20. Coyle (gk).
Images: Gerry Lafferty