Michael Tidser marked what could be his final appearance for the club by netting the winning goal as managerless Morton ended the season with a 1-0 victory against Dundee United to clinch a fifth-place finish.
On a dramatic day the team was taken by senior players Jim McAlister and Chris Millar at short notice after manager Jonatan Johansson and assistant Peter Houston vacated their positions prior to kick-off.
The experienced duo made three changes to the starting line-up, with Millar, Bob McHugh, and Keelan O’Connell coming in for McAlister, Charlie Telfer, and Andrew Dallas.
Wth Dundee United guaranteed second place and Ton out of reach of the clubs in the relegation places, i
t was a match that was meaningless for both sides in terms of their Ladbrokes Championship fate.
However, personal pride, professionalism, and a potential fifth-place finish – and the accompanying prize money – were incentive for the hosts.
Greg Kiltie had been instrumental in the Sinclair Street side safeguarding their status by scoring five goals in his last six outings, and he continued to contribute to their success on Saturday.
It was the Kilmarnock loan forward who was fouled by defender Mark Connolly on the edge of the box for the game-deciding free-kick on 18 minutes.
Tidser, who recently revealed he had a pre-contract agreement with Falkirk, one that he was free to walk away from should the Bairns go down, stepped up and curled a jaw-dropping effort into the top-left corner.
The match was played in a relaxed atmosphere with a typical end-of-season air about it, and Ton stroked the ball about comfortably.
Goal-mouth action was few and far between, but right-back Reghan Tumilty seemed hungry to end the season in style by getting on the scoresheet.
Within the space of 120 seconds, he had two attempts to find the net, curling a harmless left-footed shot over the top before hitting the target with a fierce daisy-cutter that forced Ross Laidlaw to plunge to his right to block.
Likely with an eye on the upcoming promotion play-offs, Tannadice gaffer Robbie Neilson made a half dozen changes to the side selected seven days earlier.
Striker Osman Sow was one player to retain his starting spot, and he really should have levelled the scores on 42 minutes, sending a header wide from point-blank range after getting on the end of Sam Stanton’s cross.
Swede Sow was also a key figure in the first incident of note in the second half, nodding down for Cammy Smith to unleash a swerving drive from the edge of the box that crashed against the crossbar.
That the effort didn’t finish in the back of the net was thanks to goalkeeper Robby McCrorie, whose fingertips helped brush the ball onto the goal frame.
And the Rangers loan star made another fine stop on 61 minutes, making himself big to block Mark Connolly’s close-range header and ultimately shut out Dundee United to keep his third consecutive clean sheet.
Like McCrorie, Kiltie has made an important contribution during his termporary loan stint, and he was denied a goalscoring send off when keeper Laidlaw clawed his diving header around the left-hand post.
Whether Tidser will be back at Cappielow next season remains to be seen, but he was treated to a rousing round of applause when he made way for young Lewis McGrattan in the 89th minute.
With the 29-year-old and the majority of the playing squad out of contract, and chief executive Warren Hawke, Johansson and Houston all departing over the weekend it promises to be a summer of change at Cappielow.
His goal proved to be the final word on a turbulent 2018/19 season as the Ton beat Dundee United to seal fifth place and end the campaign with a third successive win.
14. Tumilty 2. Kilday 4. Buchanan 3. Iredale
7. Millar (c) 12. Tidser
17. O’Connell 32. R. Lyon 20. Kiltie
Subs used: 6. Telfer (for O’Connell, 66), 15. Dykes (for R. Lyon, 75), and 37. McGrattan (for Tidser, 90).
Subs not used: 8. McAlister, 36. Hynes, 44. Dallas, 1. Gaston (gk).
Booked: Telfer (85).
Dundee United (4231): Laidlaw; Seaman, Connolly, Reynolds, Booth; Stanton, Butcher; Chalmers (Mochrie, 67), Smith (McMullan, 56), Safranko; Sow (Clark, 83)
Subs not used: Bouhenna, Watson, Harkes, Siegrist (gk).
Referee: Grant Irvine
⭐️ Star Man: Michael Tidser
Image: David Bell