Duffy: Clinical finishing was the difference against Ayr

Jim Duffy says clinical finishing was the difference between Morton and Ayr United at Somerset Park on Saturday evening as his side registered an emphatic 4-1 win.

Ton blew the Honest Men away with a 19-minute, three-goal salvo before adding a fourth after the break as Ross Forbes and Gary Oliver bagged a brace apiece.

Cappielow gaffer Duffy described it as an outstanding win against resilient opponents, particularly as he felt they made the 90 minutes more difficult than the final scoreline suggests.

Speaking exclusively to gmfc.net, he said: “It’s a comprehensive victory but on the balance of the game, it was a strange game because I felt at times it was very even.

“Probably in the last couple of months, that’s as difficult a time as we’ve had when it comes to trying to shut opponents down in the middle of the pitch and the last third.

“We defended the penalty box area really well, but I didn’t really think we nullified their threat too often. We allowed them to get their head up and move the ball quickly.

“But on the other side of it, that’s sometimes what happens when you’re very effective going forward so therefore you’re maybe a little bit light in the middle of the pitch.

“We passed the ball really well. I thought that Michael [Tidser] and Andy [Murdoch] passed the ball well and Ross Forbes was again superb. Nizzy [Aidan Nesbitt] really stretched the game, keeping [Nicky] Devlin occupied, and that allowed space for the other guys.

“We were clinical in our finishing. That was probably the difference between the two teams on the night at Somerset Park – the quality of the finishing.

“The opportunities that Ayr had, we managed to block and Gats made a couple of great saves, again another terrific one-on-one and we finished the opportunities we had really well.

“The other thing was the conditions. The pitch was really heavy with a lot of water lying on top of it. The surface was good, but it was difficult. There were a couple of times you had to take a touch, because the ball would shoot away.

“So, overall, I’m really, really happy – absolutely delighted – with the three points – and a 4-1 victory is an outstanding result down here. It’s a notoriously difficult place and team to play against.”

Soaked through … Duffy praised his players for excelling in trying conditions                        © Maurice Morwood

Ton made a whirlwind start before Ayr briefly forced their way back into the game after Jamie Adams scored to pull it back to 3-1, and Duffy revealed they used the half-time break to regroup and regain their focus ahead of the second half.

He explained: “We started the game really well, but when we got to 3-0, like a lot of teams do, they maybe just took the foot off the gas a little bit. It happens.

“Although you emphasise to players to keep at it and keep concentrating, you get one or two little sloppy moments and all of a sudden that becomes contagious and one or two other players get it and the opposition get a goal back.

“You get all these silly clichés about half-time coming at the right time – but I think at the way the game was going it did come at a good time for us, because Ayr were just beginning to grow into the game there.

“We managed to calm everybody down at half-time and said: ‘Listen, if we’d have come here and said we had a two-goal cushion at half-time, we’d have been thrilled.’

“We had that and asked the players to be a bit more professional and a bit more organised. We didn’t need to go and chase the game and neither did we want to be sitting defending our penalty box.

“So we just got the balance right a wee bit in terms of calming everybody down, and the fourth goal gave us enough to comfortably see the game out.”

A particularly pleasing feature of the match for the 57-year-old was the quality of the goals scored, both in terms of the build up and the final execution.

And he added: “I thought the third goal and Gary’s second goal were great goals. There was a lot nice link-up play and a great ball in from Doyley [Michael Doyle].

“That’s something that Gary can add to his game, that penalty box [instinct], where he’s in the six-yard box bundling it in. That’s a couple he’s got like that now, including the one against Hibs.

“That’s important you add those type of goals to your game as a striker as well as the other one where he showed terrific feet on the edge of the box. We scored a couple of terrific goals today.”

Image: Maurice Morwood