Johnstone (13) – Allan (1), Agyepong (25), Shanley (85)
Morton Reserves gave a decent account of themselves despite suffering a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Hibernian in their first home fixture of the 2018/19 season.
Watched by a healthy crowd at Cappielow, John Sutton’s side fell behind with less than a minute played when Lewis Allan turned home a Thomas Agyepong pull-back.
Denny Johnstone continued his impressive comeback by latching onto a Reece Lyon pass and rifling off a stinging left-footed shot that proved too powerful for Polish goalkeeper Maciej Dabrowski to equalise.
Hibs, watched by first-team boss Neil Lennon, fielded Danny Swanson and Manchester City loan star Agyepong, and the Ghanaian international fired the visitors back in front after 25 minutes.
Derek Gaston produced a hat-trick of fine saves to keep Ton in the game and aid their push for parity in the final half hour, but sub Ryan Shanley netted a late header to seal the win for the Easter Road outfit.
The Ton couldn’t have been handed a much more difficult start to their home campaign than a fixture against the reigning SPFL Development League champions and Scottish Youth Cup holders.
If there were any doubts as to the size of task, it became apparent with just 40 seconds played when Allan slotted under Gaston from inside the box after Agyepong picked him out with a pull-back from the right.
But returning hitman Johnstone added to his assist for the first-team on Saturday by scoring his third goal in two reserve outings to draw the hosts level in the 13th minute.
Latching onto a Reece Lyon pass through the heart of the Hibs defence, he did superbly well to outmuscle his marker, drive through and rifle off a stinging drive that Dabrowksi could not prevent from crossing the line.
Parity lasted just 12 minutes, however, after Jamie Gillan’s incisive through ball found Agyepong driving in off the right, and the Ghanaian applied the finishing touch, slotting a cool, angled finish past Gaston.
The custodian kept his team in with a chance of claiming a point with a series of saves, the pick of which saw him somehow turn substitute Shanley’s controlled, close-range volley over the bar with an outstretched leg.
Sutton’s side did their utmost to make the most of the platform provided, and subs Shaun Rodgers, after a deft turn, and Blair Docherty, following a slick exchange with Jack Purdue, both forced smart saves from Dabrowski.
Yet, just when it looked as though they might take a share of the spoils, Shanley met Ben Stirling’s whipped cross from the right with a bullet header that flew inside the right post to secure victory for the visitors.
2. Hynes (c) 5. Martins 4. Durham 3. Eardley
11. Bell 8. R. Lyon 6. McGrattan 7. Tiffoney
9. Johnstone 10. Easdale
Subs used: 15. Rodgers (for Johnstone, 60), 16. Brophy (for Bell, 60), 17. J. Lyon (for Tiffoney, 60), 12. Purdue (for Easdale, 67), and 14. Blair Docherty (for McGrattan, 67).
Subs not used: 18. Watt, 20. Farrell (gk).
Booked: McGrattan (14), Martins (36).
Hibernian (442): Dabrowski; O’Connor, Stirling, Waugh (c), Mackie; Agyepong (Shanley, 60), Campbell, Murray (Woods, 83), Swanson (Paton, 83); Allan, Gillan.
Subs not used: Martin (GK)
Booked: O’Connor (22).
Referee: Craig King
Images: Gary Bradley