By Cameron Middleton
Scottish Youth Cup
Montrose 1-4 Morton
Morton Under-18s entered the 2018/19 Scottish Youth Cup at the third round and recorded an emphatic 4-1 victory against Montrose at Links Park.
The young Ton side travelled to Angus last month looking to continue an impressive run of form that had saw them go seven games unbeaten.
Montrose started the match very brightly, but the Greenock side eventually composed themselves, and took the lead in the 15th minute.
Mimicking the exact set-play that saw them equalise against Kilmarnock the previous Friday, Jamie Black played a clever one-two with Jonathan Lyon to allow the former to work a shot from a tight angle.
Black was denied a goal this time thanks to a Fraser Burnett save, but the ball broke kindly for Shaun Rodgers, who placed his shot home from close range to fire the Ton in front.
Rodgers then turned provider on 35 minutes by accepting a Lyon pass, superbly dropping a shoulder to beat his man, and driving to the bye-line, from where he squared for Aidan Duffy to calmly slot home number two.
Sean Crighton and Pat McIlvouge’s side started the second half well, with wing-backs Kieran Brophy and John Gallacher causing problems down the channels. And the latter was key to Ton making it 3-0.
After doing brilliantly to keep the ball in play at the corner flag and then beat his marker, he layed off to Euan Campbell, charging up in support. The keeper got a hand to the shot but couldn’t prevent it from finding the net.
Unlikely scorer Gavin Watt put the game out of sight. Showing real desire to get on the end of a Black corner, the defender looped a header into the net to make it 4-0.
The home side weren’t ready to throw in the towel, however, and were presented with an opportunity to reduce the deficit when goalkeeper Andrew Coyle was adjudged to have fouled Sam Garnham on 85 minutes.
Garnham dusted himself down and took responsibility. He was unable to capitalise, though, placing his effort high over the bar and into the Wellington Street end.
Montrose would manage a consolation goal when Ross Fraser found the top left-hand corner with a sweetly-struck effort from 20 yards that left Coyle with no chance.
It was irrelevant in the grand scheme of things as Morton not only made it eight games unbeaten, but booked a place in the fourth round draw, in which they were paired with Rangers …
Morton 0-2 Rangers
A cup tie played in treacherous weather conditions at Parklea in Port Glasgow saw Morton and Rangers compete for the prize of a place in the fifth round of the tournament.
A second-half Joshua McPake double saw the Ibrox outfit progress as the hosts failed to take their chances in a scrappy encounter.
Ton used the strong wind to their advantage in the early stages as they piled the pressure on the Rangers defence, and Shaun Rodgers passed up in early chance when put through on keeper Lewis Budinauckas.
Jonathan Lyon received a yellow card following a rough challenge on Rangers No.9 Adepapo Mebude as the tackles flew in from both sides.
Tempers then flared following a shoulder-to-shoulder battle between Medube and John Gallacher, and the former kicked out at the Ton full-back.
The referee dished out a straight red card for the Rangers forward, leaving the visitors down with 10 men at a very early stage in the contest.
Midfielder Lewis McGrattan fired an effort over from distance while defender Ben Docherty failed to find the target with a header from a Jamie Black delivery as Morton looked to press home their advantage.
Rangers came back into the game towards the end of the half but found Chris Stafford an impenetrable barrier as he regularly repelled repeated attacks down the left-hand channel.
Despite a positive first half for the hosts, it was Rangers who took the lead after play resumed, McPake beating two Ton defenders before placing a cool, low finish to Andrew Coyle’s right.
Morton began to play more direct football, launching long passes from deep in attempt to get in behind a stubborn Gers defence, but they were ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts to muster clear-cut scoring chances.
Rangers ruthlessly put the game to bed with five minutes remaining when McPake collected Kai Kennedy’s short corner, dribbled into the box, and fired a low shot beyond Coyle to bag his brace and knock Ton out.
Head of youth pathway Sean Crighton said: “We did well at Montrose. It was a professional performance that saw us successfully progress to the next round even if I thought we could have done better at stages.
“Against Rangers we didn’t take our chances in the first half and our set-plays were poor on the night. I just don’t think we were brave enough and I saw it as an opportunity missed.”
Image: Gary Bradley