Queen’s Park’s fine first quarter in the Championship ended in disappointment as Morton left Ochilview with all three points courtesy of a 2-1 success despite a spirited fightback from the Spiders.
Head coach Owen Coyle made one change to his line-up following Saturday’s win over Raith Rovers with Josh McPake starting in place of Jonny Kenny who dropped to the bench against a visiting side who were put through their paces before kick-off by former Spider Andy Millen who is the assistant manager at the Greenock club.
Grant Gillespie faced his former colleagues with the midfielder meeting Simon Murray in the centre circle as the two captains took part in the traditional coin toss.
Morton kicked off and won a corner after just 15 seconds and Robbie Muirhead got on the end of Jaze Kabia’s cross however his effort dropped onto the roof of the net.
Queen’s threatened on four minutes when McPake was fouled 25 yards out by Lewis Strapp with Brian Schwake darting off his line to grab Dom Thomas’ curling dead ball.
Strapp fouled McPake again on 13 minutes, this time 10 yards into the Morton half. Thomas took the free-kick and his deep ball found Stephen Eze who nodded down to Jake Davidson who had an opportunity to fire goalward from six yards however he sent a ball across the visitors’ goal that went unconverted.
As Queen’s attacked again Murray shuffled his way to the 18-yard line before curling a shot into the side-netting with Morton making the most of that reprieve by taking the lead on 19 minutes.
Calum Ferrie had done well to block a powerful drive from Kabia with his legs at the expense of a corner but the striker was on hand to turn home Muirhead’s low flag-kick from four yards out.
Two minutes later it was almost 2-0 to the Cappielow crew as Ferrie could only push out a corner to Muirhead who was inches out with a scissors-kick volley in reply.
On 26 minutes a lightning break from Morton produced another opportunity as Robbie Crawford found Muirhead with a long diagonal ball and the striker pushed a pass into the path of Kabia with Ferrie well placed to smother his shot from 18 yards.
Queen’s got another warning in the next minute as Strapp was picked out at the back-post with the full-back heading wide from close range.
Coyle’s side looked to up their game as the first half entered its last quarter of an hour and Eze was just inches away from turning in a Thomas free-kick and Murray had a shot charged down.
Five minutes from the break Thomas had a shot deflected wide for a corner which the Morton defence scrambled clear for a second corner which Thomas overhit and the danger was over.
Head coach Coyle did not hang about at the break as he re-emerged quickly, as did his recast side, with David Boateng replacing Davidson and Scott Williamson coming in for McPake.
It was Morton however that restarted the brightest and they came close again on 47 minutes when a long throw from Strapp reached Muirhead and his overhead kick was clawed away by a diving Ferrie.
The Spiders shot-stopper was involved again two minutes later as he got down low to keep out a Lewis McGrattan drive.
Thomas looked to get his side going and his low driven left-wing cross was begging to be put in however it fizzed across Schwake’s goal before going wide.
Savoury was the next player to try and break Morton’s resistance with the striker’s darting run ending with a trip 25 yards out. Savoury took the resultant free-kick that was deflected off the wall for a corner that Schwake easily gathered.
A goal did arrive on 58 minutes, however it was a second for Morton, with Muirhead sweeping home a left foot shot from 10 yards after a Strapp cross had eluded both Lee Kilday and Tommy Robson.
The score-line almost took another wrong turn for the hosts four minutes later when Jack Baird headed a corner past Ferrie only for the ball to sail about an inch wide.
Substitute Williamson came close to pulling one back when he met a low Thomas cross with Schwake doing well to reach up and turn the ball over.
Mal Boateng did pull a goal back in spectacular fashion on 68 minutes with the on-loan Crystal Palace midfielder thumping home from 20 yards after a right-wing cross was headed into his path by a visiting defender.
Boateng’s rocket shot perked up his side and the recently introduced Kenny brought out a low save from Schwake after trying his luck with a drive from the edge of the box.
With 14 minutes to go David Boateng charged forward on the right and his cut-back reached Kenny with Morton grateful that his shot was blocked before it could trouble Schwake.
Thomas and Williamson both carved out chances as an equaliser was chased with Strapp recusing his side as the game entered injury time with a last gasp tackle on Jack Thomson who had been released by a Williamson head flick.
With three minutes added on Kenny had a shooting chance 18 yards out that was saved by Schwake and there was definitely no comeback when a fierce drive from Thomas was headed over after the visiting shot-stopper looked beaten.
Queen’s Park: Calum Ferrie, Jake Davidson (David Boateng 46′), Lee Kilday, Stephen Eze, Tommy Robson, Grant Savoury (Lewis Moore 66′), Jack Thomson, Malachi Boateng, Dom Thomas, Joshua McPake (Scott Williamson 46′), Simon Murray (Johnny Kenny 66′). Subs not used: Jason Naismith, Louis Longridge, Jacques Heraghty (G/k), Alex Bannon, Pat Jarrett,
Morton: Brain Schwake, Lewis Strapp, Darragh O’Connor, Jack Baird, Jaze Kabia (Lewis McGregor 83′), Cameron Blues, Robbie Muirhead, Robbie Crawford, Lewis McGrattan (Alexander King 75′), Grant Gillespie, Liam Grimshaw