By Declan Hughes
Morton were the visitors to New Douglas Park on Saturday and they arrived with two familiar faces in the dugout. Accies legend Dougie Imrie assisted by another former Accies man in Andy Millen.
Stuart Taylor’s side were looking to build on their point last-time out against Arbroath and were boosted by the return of the Head Coach to the sidelines following his isolation.
However, former Accies Academy coach Dougie Imrie had his side leading the way with their recent form. The match promised to be a close one.
A win would see Accies go four games unbeaten and a point clear of Ayr who are below in 7th place.
The opening 45 minutes of the tie proved to be a cagey affair, with both sides really devoid of any major clear-cut chances minus a few.
Morton found themselves with a decent opportunity on eight minutes after a pass out from Hilton in the Accies net was intercepted by the Morton midfield which saw Jamie Brandon unleash a strike towards Hilton’s left, but in the end, resulted in the Accies ‘keeper making a fine stop.
The visitors came close again on 11 minutes, when Gozie Ugwu found himself in good space at the front post, only to glance his headed effort over the bar.
The men in red and white slowly found their way in to the match and very nearly took the lead soon after. A Reegan Mimnaugh cross was met by the head of defender Daniel O’Reilly who bulleted the ball goalward. However, the Morton defence managed a goal line clearance and the score remained level.
It was a spell of play which gave the side confidence as the men from Lanarkshire began to implement their high-tempo style.
Kai Kennedy collected the ball upon driving at the Morton defence, however, he was stopped in his tracks due to a fierce challenge from Cameron Blues – resulting in the Morton midfielder picking up the first booking of the match.
The second 45 minutes started off with a bang for Accies when a clearance from a Kieran MacDonald cross, fell to Lewis Spence on the edge of the box, the forward run by the midfielder paid off as his first time finish nudged Accies ahead.
As the teams returned for the second half it was clear that both sides were determined to improve on their first half performances. Moments after the opening goal, Morton found themselves two versus two on the attack, however Ugwu’s strike proved to be a wasteful one, as it rolled wide of the left post, leaving Accies ‘keeper, Hilton, untroubled.
The introduction of Accies playmaker Lewis Smith came in the 55th minute and instantly the 21-year-old. The wide man’s energy in closing down the Morton defence proved to be integral in stopping Imrie’s men from progressing up the park.
Accies continued to probe midway through the second half and after some neat inter-play led by Kai Kennedy on the far left, a whizzed in ball across the six-yard box failed to reach any of the Accies target men.
It was clear to see that the men from Greenock had been encouraged to up their pressing intensity in the second half as they stepped up the pressure in their search for an equaliser. On 75 minutes, the visitors won a free-kick 25 yards outside the box but the effort was well blocked by the Accies wall.
Accies remained firm and Stuart Taylor’s side showed the character that had sometimes been missing in previous games and it was clear to see that the Accies men were working as a strong collective, to see out the three points and a clean sheet. In particular, David Moyo’s continuous hold-up play proved difficult to deal with from a Morton perspective and the physical strength of the fan favourite from Zimbabwe, was vital in easing the pressure off of his teammates, and ultimately, proved key in helping his side towards a fantastic win.
Accies: Hilton, Popescu (c), Hamilton (Lawson 10), MacDonald, Spence (Martin 85), Mullin, Kennedy, Mimnaugh, Moyo, Redfern (L Smith 55), O’Reilly . unused subs Fulton, Easton, Hughes, Winter, Shiels, Brown
Morton: Hamilton, Strapp, McLean, McEntee, Blues, Lyon, Ugwu, Brandon, Reilly, Wilson, Lithgow (c)
Referee Andy Dallas; Assistants Colin McAlpine & George King