Dramatic second-half response delights Duffy

Morton manager Jim Duffy admitted it required a dramatic second-half response for his team to take all three points against Ayr United on Saturday after going in at the break trailing.

A Kevin Nisbet goal left the Ton staring down the barrel of a home defeat at half-time following an uninspiring opening 45 minutes.

But the Cappielow club came out with all guns blazing in the second half to turn the game on its head, pick up the win and leave gaffer Duffy delighted.

He told gmfc.net: “From our point of view, we turned it around dramatically in the second half. Our performance levels increased significantly.

“We were more on the front foot, more positive, and we took the game to Ayr United. I think in the first half, we stood off them too much and allowed them to get a foothold in the game.

“It was a terrific goal from the boy Nisbet and we allowed Gary Harkins too much time and space. I don’t think we played that badly, but we tried to squeeze the game up a little bit higher in the second half.

“We managed to get more second balls in the middle of the pitch, and more threat, more shots at goal in the second half, and obviously scored two, had one chalked off and hit the bar.

“I think the disallowed goal spurred the team on and the supporters; there was a lift in atmosphere and a lift in positivity around the ground.

“There was a sense of injustice that seemed to [cause them to] roll their sleeves up and give that wee extra bit of desire to try and get back in the game.

“We managed to turn it around against a notoriously difficult side to beat who don’t lose many goals, and we were much better in the second half after getting a great response from the players. To get the winner was a great reward.”

Impact sub … Duffy felt Scullion’s introduction made a difference                           © David Bell

The Ton boss made slight alterations to his team before kick-off and during the course of the 90 minutes, and he explained: “We knew that we had to play slightly differently today.

“Teams are looking at us and thinking we want to play it into channels for Jai [Quitongo], so we tried to change it and worked on mixing it up during the week in training.

“Really once we put Gary [Oliver] up top with Jon [Scullion] off then it worked better because we could play it into feet more, and once we played it to feet I thought we were much more of a threat.

“With Michael Doyle and Jamie McDonagh, that was tactical. We felt Ayr played a narrow midfield, without natural wingers, a bit similar to Falkirk at times.

“And we just felt that the space might be in the wider areas and that Jamie, as someone who usually plays as an attacker, might have given us a wee bit more going forward.

“Although we know Michael is a fantastic athlete, I just felt that defensively wasn’t as important as getting on the ball, and Jamie, like most of the players, had a much better second half.”

Big call … The officials rule out Aidan Nesbitt’s volley for offside                             © David Bell

Duffy is never one to focus on match officials, but he felt whistler Mat Northcroft and his assistants got key decisions wrong for both teams.

He added: “There were a lot of talking points and most of them involved the referee, and that’s not what you want in a game. You want it to be about the two sets of players.

“For the disallowed goal they said Jai was in the line of the goalkeeper’s eye, but it’s a volley and you see the goalkeeper diving full length.

“We were puzzled. Not one single [Ayr United] player complains, and the linesman puts the flag up.

“Ian [McCall] would have been looking at the penalty decision, and from where we were, I think he has a decent shout. From my position it looked like a penalty, I’m not going to lie.

“If it was, we got a break there and didn’t get a break with the disallowed goal. That’s the reason why I don’t think it was a good day for the officials.

“But, listen, at the end of the day, we won the game, so we’re delighted.”


Image: Gary Bradley