Brophy (53, 63), Purdue (56) – Coulter (15), Cowie (37)
Morton Under-20s staged an incredible comeback at Cappielow last night by scoring three second-half goals to beat Airdrie after learning their Development League West title hopes could be rekindled on a technicality.
Derek Anderson’s side seemed dead and buried at the break after a super-charged Diamonds surged into a two-goal lead as they chased the three points that would see them topple Stranraer and claim the championship.
It was as one-sided a 45 minutes as you are likely to see. Yet the Ton teens summoned stirring resolve to find the net three times inside 18 minutes of the restart to complete a sensational turnaround.
Wideman Kieran Brophy bagged a brilliant brace either side of Jack Purdue’s equaliser to take the three points and leave them with an outside chance of finishing top of the pile if they win their two remaining fixtures.
League-leading Blues face a disciplinary hearing on Monday 23 April after allegedly fielding an ineligible player, the result of which could re-open the title race to Airdrie, ourselves and Ayr United.
The Diamonds, though, would have been convinced they had the trophy sewn up after completely dominating the first half of this fixture.
Striker Jake Coulter opened the scoring with quarter of an hour played, forcing the ball over the line from close-range after Farrell had saved with his feet following a low cross from the left.
The goal was met by a loud roar from the sizeable travelling support that had followed the visitors in hope of seeing a championship success.
Their cheers were temporarily stifled when Farrell propelled himself to his left to push Robbie Leighton’s firm penalty clear of the target in what was the pick of a night of tremendous saves by the home keeper.
The spot-kick had been awarded for a trip by Ton’s trialist, and director of youth Anderson removed the left-back shortly afterwards in order to switch from a 4-4-2 to the 3-4-1-2 used since he took interim charge.
That change would reap full rewards after the break, but things would get worse before they got better as Airdrie added a second on 37 minutes.
Midfielder Calvin Cowie drove into the Morton box down the right and rifled an unstoppable rising drive past Farrell inside his near post, the sheer power beating the shot-stopper.
After one-way traffic for virtually the entire first half, no one in the ground could have predicted what would occur after the interval.
Brophy sparked the resurgence on 53 minutes after showing tremendous pace to race after Purdue’s slide-rule pass down the inside-right and slip a cute finish between Airdrie goalkeeper Michael McGee’s legs.
And they were back on level terms three minutes later when Purdue slammed an emphatic, left-footed shot into the net after the ball broke kindly for him inside the box.
They left everyone in the stadium in a state of bewilderment by netting for the third time in the space of just 10 minutes to complete an incredible comeback – and a jaw-dropping goal it was too.
Brophy burst onto a long, diagonal pass and without breaking his stride, clipped a half-volley towards the target, floating a beautiful effort over McGee and under the bar to cap a brilliant brace.
The 17-year-old was in irrepresible form and came close to a treble with an audacious overhead kick attempt that bounced just beyond the post.
From one Under-17s star to another, the cherry was put on the icing of the cake with another academy debut as Andrew Rutherford came off the bench in the final minute.
With Stranraer’s disciplinary hearing scheduled for Monday, the Ton could be set up for a dramatic finale when they host Albion Rovers that night and then Ayr United next Wednesday.
2. Hynes 5. Ben Docherty 4. Watt 3. Trialist
7. Brophy 6. Langan (c) 8. R. Lyon 11. Eardley
9. Purdue 10. Easdale
Subs used: 12. J. Lyon (for Trialist, 31), 14. Duffy (for Purdue, 89), and 15. Rutherford (for Easdale, 70).
Subs not used: 17. Campbell, 18. Gallacher, 19. Stafford, 20. Coyle (GK).
Images: Christina Hemphill