Captain’s Log with Jim McAlister

Captain’s Log with Jim McAlister

Good afternoon, everyone. It’s something of an understatement to say a lot has happened in the two weeks since my last captain’s column.

The Ross County game was one game we went into with confidence and with a genuine belief that we could get a result, just like we did against the same opponents at Cappielow earlier in the season.

But on this occasion, we got what we deserved from the game: absolutely nothing. We can’t defend as a team like that and expect to have a successful season. Every one of the five goals was preventable, which made it hugely frustrating.

I have to give Ross County credit, however, as they made it very difficult for us and were ruthless with the chances that came their way. Going by their display, it’s clear to see why so many folk have them as favourites for the title.

The result made it an extremely long journey home for everyone, and on behalf of the players, I can only apologise to the fans who followed us up to Dingwall.

When we came back into to training on the Monday we went over the game as normal. From a player’s point of view, it always helps to see where we have went wrong visually.

The manager kept it short as we had the Queen of the South game to prepare for on the Tuesday, which was fortunate as it gave us an opportunity to get the County game out of our system and right some wrongs from three days earlier.

There were, quite rightly, questions asked about us as a squad following that defeat, so there was an inner determination in the dressing room that there would be no repeat at Palmerston.

The manager changed the shape of the team to give us a more solid base, and the boys took the gamplan on board and ran with it, executing it excellently.

We took the lead just before half time with a well worked free-kick that Bob McHugh nodded in from close range to apply the finishing touch.

Queens were always going to come out and have a right good go at us in the second half, and they scored an equaliser with a shot from distance.

At this moment – conceding an equaliser away from home to a good Queens side after losing five just days earlier – I knew we would learn a lot about the character of the squad

Despite being pushed onto the backfoot, we dug in deep, kept a good shape, and remained patient as we knew a chance would come our way.

Thankfully, that fell to the right boot of young Reece Lyon, who fired one into the top, right-hand corner to earn us a fantastic three points.

Reece was making his first senior start and he grew into the game very well and it was a joy to play in midfield with him. Hopefully his goal was the first of many for Morton.

Not many teams will go down to Dumfires and win this season and it took tremendous character and a great deal of determination to come home with the win.

There was no time to dwell on the victory, though, as we immediately began our preparations for Partick Thistle and our third game in the space of a week.

Everyone recovered in time for the game with the exception of young Reece. It was a blow to lose our match winner from the Tuesday.

As one door closes, another opens, and Reece’s absence presented the wee lawyer Charlie Telfer with an opportunity to come in and stake his claim for a place in the team – and he certainly didn’t let anyone down.

Yet again questions were asked of us when we conceded the first goal. The most impressive thing for me was how we kept our discipline and shape, and stuck to our game plan.

It worked a treat, with us scoring twice before the break with a couple of well-worked goals. It was good to see both Gary Oliver score his first league goal of the season and Bob continue his good run.

The next goal was always going to be important and, thankfully, it went our way after Jack Iredale popped up at the back post to apply the finishing touch to a flowing move.

That seemed to really settle us down and allowed us to go and enjoy the last half hour of the game, which is certainly not not something that will happen often in this league, that’s for sure.

A further two goals followed, both brilliant in their own ways. The first a great solo goal from Bob for his second and a fabulous strike from Tids to make it 5-1.

The game saw another debut for an academy graduate with young Lewis McGrattan getting a good run out. It’s fantastic to see the boys involved.

Hopefully there will be many more, and their involvement just goes to show how good a job the staff are doing to prepare them for first-team football as it’s a huge jump.

The win took us up into the play-off places and this week brings us another extremely difficult game against a well-organised Alloa team that caused us problems earlier in the season.

What we certainly can’t do as a team is become complacent just because we have won back to back games. We can’t neglect the things that have been the basis of those positive results, and that’s hard work and organisation.

So we will be working hard in training this week to make sure that’s not a factor as we do out utmost to make it three wins in a row.

Before the game the club will be holding an act of remembrance for the Armistice centenary, which I think is a fantastic gesture as we honour our ex-service men and women.

Enjoy the game.

C’mon the Ton!

Jim