Duffy: We held our own in strong Championship

Jim Duffy felt the 3-0 defeat to Dundee United on Friday night was harsh on his Morton team and praised them for a league campaign in which they more than held their own with the cream of the Championship.

The Ton went out of the Premiership promotion play-offs at the quarter-final stage following a 5-1 aggregate defeat to Ray McKinnon’s men.

Cappielow gaffer Duffy did not feel the scoreline was a fair reflection of the 90 minutes but praised the Tangerines and their firepower.

The 58-year-old then took time to reflect on a hugely positive 2016/17 season for the club as a whole and then also looked ahead to next term.

Speaking exclusively to gmfc.net, he said: “In the first half on Friday we were different class; we took the game to Dundee United.

“We were defending down the hill, which is normally they’re favourite way to go, and we showed a terrific appetitte for the game. Tactically, we changed it and played a 4-3-3 and that worked as well.

“So the players learned from the game on Tuesday, but similialry to the game on Tuesday, we didn’t capitalise on our control of the game.

“The first goal was a bit of an error and from there they took control of the game, like they did in the first leg. We had to chase a wee bit, and that left them with space which they took advantage of.

“From that point of view, we said to the players before the game: ‘Listen, let’s just not turn up here and feel sorry for ourselves and see the game out. Let’s give it a go.’ And they gave it a go and the scoreline was very harsh.

“But you’ve still got to congratulate Dundee United. What they had different from us was the finishing power. We did a lot of work closing them down, stopping them playing, getting to the 18-yard line …

“We put a lot of crosses in the box but we just couldn’t get on the end of them. Whereas when there were little ricochets, they took advantage; when there little ricochets [in their box] we couldn’t get on the end of it.

“Dundee United are a good side, but you need one or two moments to fall for you, and they fell for them. All credit to them, they were good enough to despatch them.

“What we can do now is reflect on the season. Over the vast majority of it, we have competed with everybody in a division which had clubs like Hibs and Dundee United in it.

“We had a young team and every one of the boys has played for the jersey. We’ve had boys on loan and that’s not always easy, but they’ve came in and done outstandingly for us.

“We’ve held our own, and we have somebody like Jai [Quitongo] coming back from injury, we’ve got Robert Thomson already signed, so even just now we’ve got more options in the front area.

“That’s something I think we always knew we had to try and get, so we’ll look at one or two things; we’ve got players out of contract and there’s talking to be done.

“Recruitment is always a major part of management and if we can get some more players in on top of Jai and Robert, we’ll go again next season.”

Mutual appreciation … Jim returns the fans applause at full-time                              © David Bell

Towards the end of Friday night’s defeat, the vocal travelling support broke out in a chorus of ‘There’s only one Jim Duffy’ and the manager turned and waved in a moment of mutual appreciation.

When asked about the away fans’ backing on the night, he explained: “Obviously we’ve had a sticky spell and it would have been easy for the fans to get on the players’ back, but they didn’t. They really got behind the players.

“Yeah, of course they were singing my name and that’s always nice to hear, but it’s about the players, and the fans were outstanding.

“They were absolutely terrific, they never stopped singing from the first minute until the 90th minute, and I felt it was important that the players acknolwedged that.

“Because it would have been easy for the fans to go away disappointed, but I think they acknowledged the players’ efforts right through the campaign.

“We know expectations will rise and people will ask: ‘Can you do it again? Can you be better?’ Well, that’s the challenge and hopefully if we have a sticky spell, the supporters stick with us again because the one thing they’ll always get is a Morton team that gives 100 per cent.”


Images: David Bell