Storer (17), Penrice (29) – Tumilty (74)
Morton suffered a 2-1 reverse away at Partick Thistle in Betfred Cup Group E tonight but will feel unfortunate not to have taken something from the game after an encouraging performance.
A Jack Storer wonderstrike and a James Penrice follow up had the hosts in a comfortable position at the break, but Ray McKinnon’s men took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half.
Right-back Reghan Tumilty netted on his debut to set up a frantic finale, but despite flooding forward in the closing stages, they could not find the goal required to take something from the game.
Manager McKinnon is still getting to know his team, and after setting them out in a 3-5-2 formation against Ayr United on Saturday, he went with a 4-2-3-1 against the Jags.
In terms of personnel, he experimented by starting Michael Tidser at left-back to see if he was capable of providing experienced cover there while taking a look at Jack Iredale in a more advanced position.
There was also a a first start for former Ross County and Falkirk defender Tumilty, who had only completed his move to the club earlier in the afternoon.
Alan Archibald also included a familiar face in new signing Thomas O’Ware for his Firhill bow, and the one-time cheers and chants from the away fans turned to jeers as he turned out against the Ton for the first time.
However, it was another summer recruit who took centre stage for the hosts. Former Birmingham City midfielder Storer impressed in a sitting role and opened the scoring with a wonderstrike on 17 minutes.
Arriving right on cue 25 yards out, he met Tidser’s headed clearance with a thunderous half-volley that lasered into the top-right corner leaving Ryan Scully with absolutely no chance.
It might only be the second game of the new campaign, but this is already sure to figure as a goal of the season contender.
Their second goal, which arrived 12 minutes later, was more rudimentary, Penrice slamming home a side-footed follow up after Scully had turned Chris Erskine’s low cross from the right wide of the target.
Morton were really on the ropes at this point, and the woodwork came to their rescue on 33 minutes when O’Ware got on the end of Craig Slater’s flat free-kick from the right and headed against the left-hand post.
McKinnon had seen enough with regards to his left-sided trial and moved Tidser into midfield with Iredale dropping back to full-back with 10 minutes of the first half remaining.
The change had the desired effect and the Ton immediately looked the more assured side – a state of affairs that would continue right through to the final whistle.
They enjoyed a monopoly on possession and territorial control, with Charlie Telfer in particular pulling the strings in the midfield as the team played a passing game that was pleasing on the eye.
Conviction restored in a familiar role, Tidser manufactured the Ton’s first real scoring opportunity of the evening on 59 minutes.
Spotting Iredale’s burst into the box round the back, he picked out the Australian with a sensational clipped pass that he took a touch to control and then prodded at goal on the stretch, forcing Cammy Bell to paw clear.
Chris Millar was also putting his stamp on the game and unleashed a daisycutter from fully 25 yards that left Bell rooted to the spot but flashed past the left-hand post.
It was clear an away goal was coming as Partick dropped deeper and deeper towards their own goal causing the restless home support to grow increasingly anxious.
What was less obvious was the source, albeit it wasn’t a complete surprise due to fact right-back Tumilty had spent the evening bombing up and down the flank, delivering some excellent low crosses to boot.
On 74 minutes, he surged up in support once again but intelligently meandered inside into vacant space to give Tidser an option to slip a square pass into his path from the a position wide on the right.
The 21-year-old took the ball in his stride and arrowed an unerringly accurate finish into the bottom-left corner with his left foot.
Morton could and possibly should have levelled things up just five minutes later when Telfer picked out Lewis Strapp with a brilliant angled cross to the back post, but the substitute sent a diving header wide.
The visitors really piled on the pressure in the last 10 minutes, with Ross MacLean forcing a smart save from Bell and Jack Purdue curling narrowly over the top from inside the box, but their efforts were ultimately in vain.
Although it meant for a second successive Betfred Cup defeat, the overall display was a cause for optimism ahead of a long and challenging league season.
2. Tumilty 5. Kilday 4. Buchanan 10. Tidser
8. McAlister 7. Millar
11. MacLean 6. Telfer 3. Iredale
Subs used: 12. Oliver (for McHugh, 66), 14. Strapp (for Iredale, 71), 12. McHugh (for Telfer, 68), and 18. Purdue (for Tidser, 83).
Subs not used: 15. Langan, 16. Armour, 17. Hynes, 20. Gaston (gk).
Booked: McAlister (32), Tidser (64)
Partick Thistle (4141): Bell; Elliot, O’Ware, McGinty, Penrice; Storer (Storey, 53); Erskine, Gordon, Slater, Spittal (McCarthy, 62); Doolan (c).
Subs not used: Wilson, Fitzpatrick, Sneddon (gk).
Booked: Storer (40).
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Attendance: 2,088 (375 away fans)
⭐️ Star Man: Reghan Tumilty
Images: Gary Bradley