Morton began 2019 with a bang by beating Ladbrokes Championship league leaders Ross County 1-0 in front of the BBC Alba cameras at Cappielow tonight.
After bidding farewell to 2018 with a 2-1 win away at Partick Thistle, Jonatan Johansson’s side took that form into the New Year by toppling the Staggies and moving up into the play-off places.
Johansson made one change to the team that picked up three points at Firhill, restoring defender Kerr Waddell, who was available again after serving a one-game ban, to the starting line-up in place of Reece Lyon.
The Greenock gaffer sent his side out in a 5-3-2 formation with a gameplan that had to be slightly tweaked when in-form Scott Tiffoney was forced off with a hamstring injury to replaced by Michael Tidser after just 27 minutes.
They soaked up Ross County pressure as they spent much of the first half on the backfoot and went in goalless at the break.
Waddell played his part by popping up on the line to head clear a Don Cowie effort after a mix up between Derek Gaston and Gregor Buchanan.
The Dundee loan defender was brought back into the team after an afternoon to forget in which he was both sent off against Inverness Caledonian Thistle and handed the Highlanders a penalty.
And he repaid his manager’s faith and cemented his sponsors’ man of the match award against County by crashing a volley into the net from five yards after getting on the end of a dangerous Tidser deadball delivery on 66 minutes.
An eventful second half ended in controversial fashion with a red card for Staggies skipper Marcus Fraser and a touchline flashpoint involving former team-mates Michael Gardyne and Chris Millar.
But the Ton successfully saw out five minutes of stoppage time to complete the job and collect an invaluable Friday-night victory over the title favourites.
14. Tumilty 2. Kilday 4. Buchanan 5. Waddell 25. McKeown
7. Millar 6. Telfer 8. McAlister (c)
11. McHugh 17. Tiffoney
Subs used: 12. Tidser (for Tiffoney, 27), 3. Iredale (for Telfer, 63), and 23. Scully (for Gaston, 90+4).
Subs not used: 10. Thomson, 16. Strapp, 22. Armour, 32. R. Lyon.
Booked: Tidser (53), McHugh (54), Iredale (74), Millar (90+2).
Ross County (4141): Fox; Fraser (c), Morris (Paton, 63), Watson, Grivosti (McManus, 80); Draper; Stewart, Lindsay, Cowie (Mullin, 60), Gardyne; McKay.
Subs not used: Keillor-Dunn, Wallace, Kelly, Munro (gk).
Booked: Fraser (88), Gardyne (90+2).
Referee: Willie Collum
⭐️ Star Man: Kerr Waddell
Image: Gary Bradley