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Morton take SPFL Development West crown after stunning final-day win over Ayr

Greenock Morton 1

Purdue (pen) 66

Ayr United 0

  • Wednesday, 25 April 2018
  • Cappielow Stadium
  • Under 20´s
  • Competition name here

A Jack Purdue penalty in the second-half saw Greenock Morton beat Ayr United to lift the SPFL Development League West title, completing a dramatic final week of the season for Morton, Ayr, Airdrieonians, and Stranraer.

Both sides went into the game at Cappielow knowing that a win for either side would secure them the league championship, whilst a draw would've seen Airdrieonians take the title. However, it would be Derek Anderson's men that would take the spoils thanks to Purdue's calm spot-kick.

The win capped a tremendous comeback week for Morton, who began their title-charge last Friday night in a dramatic 3-2 win over Airdrieonians. This was then followed by Stranraer being docked three points after an SPFL disciplinary hearing ruled that they had fielded an ineligible player - opening up the title race.

A 6-1 hammering of Albion Rovers on Monday night meant that the home side came into this one in fine form, whilst Ayr came into this one on the back of five straight league victories themselves.

Both sides knew the importance of the occasion, and a whirlwind start saw chances for either team in the first five minutes.

Firstly, some lovely play down the left from the home-side saw the ball cut-back to Reece Lyon. The midfielder snapped at the shot however, and saw it lash wide. 

Right up the other end, an attempted clearance from the Morton back-line saw the ball oddly bounce off of Jamie Martin and nearly sneak in over Daniel Farrell before going over. The Morton goalkeeper was once again on fire tonight though, and had to beat away a low strike from James Hilton as United threatened to take control.

Yet, after a quick start, the game started to settle into a scrappy affair. United were getting some real joy down the flanks at times, whilst Martin was good about many things going forward for the visitors. Aye were missing a final ball though, and allowed Morton off the hook on several occasions.

Morton's outlet, unsurprisingly, was often Kieran Brophy, who scored their memorable winner against Airdrieonians just five nights ago. The right-winger got several teasing crosses into the penalty area, with Purdue on the end of one that he scooped high over.

The rain was lashing down at Cappielow, adding a fitting obstacle to what was already a difficult and monumental occasion for both sets of players.

Morton started to get control of proceedings before the break, and will wonder how they never took the lead right on the stroke of half-time.

The ball dropped nicely for Shaun Rodgers to hammer a volley off the far post, before the ball bounced right in front of Alexander Easdale, who could only poke over in a reactionary attempt.

The half-time whistle would blow immediately after, and Easdale had his head in his hands as he knew how colossal that opportunity was.

  • Half Time:
  • Greenock Morton
  • 0-0
  • Ayr United

There can be no denying that the second-half was dominated by Ayr, who really did pound Farrell's goal in the hope they could sneak something past the seemingly unstoppable goalkeeper. This was typified by Martin's energy early on, as he feed a great ball to Hilton who couldn't get an effort on target, before the midfielder dragged an effort wide after pulling his side forward.

Yet, for all of their early dominance, a momentary lapse of defensive concentration gave Morton a massive chance to take the lead against the run of play.

Armour used his pace and strength to dart through the United defence before being taken out by a United defender. The referee initially gave a free-kick just outside the area, but after consulting with the linesman on the far side, a penalty was awarded.

Purdue was able to shrug off his lack of service so far in the game, and took out his frustration on the penalty as he slotted home with ease - sending Ellis Hare-Reid the wrong way.

The response from Ayr was frightening for Morton fans, who were now peeping at the game through their fingers.

The pressure rose in the final 20 minutes, with United desperately throwing all they could at the Ton goal. Step up Farrell, who, after keeping his side in the game during the victory over Airdrieonians last Friday, did so again here.

Several stunning low stops had to be made to thwart powerful efforts from Chris Campbell, Hilton, and Luke McCowan. The latter two were simply stunning stops, with some terrific ball-handling from the 18-year-old earning his defence respite at key moments.

There would be other half-chances for Ayr towards the death. Robert Griffiths and Mark McKenzie both had good opportunities to head home an equaliser from corner-kicks. However, both mean could only send their efforts off-target.

Three minutes of added time were put in place, but Ayr had looked a side who had thrown their last roll of the dice. In the end, it would be Morton celebrating a stunning campaign with the league title thanks to Purdue's goal and a stunning one-man show from Farrell towards the death.

  • Full Time:
  • Greenock Morton
  • 1-0
  • Ayr United

Lineups

Greenock Morton
Ayr United
1. Daniel Farrell
2. Darren Hynes
3. Shaun Rodgers
4. Gavin Watt
5. Ben Eardley
6. Ruaridh Langen
7. Kieran Brophy
8. Reece Lyon
9. Ben Armour
10. Alexander Easdale
11. Jack Purdue
12. Ben Docherty
14. Jonathan Lyon
15. Trialist
17. Aidan Duffy
18. Lewis McGratten
19. Euan Campbell
20. Andrew Coyle
1. Ellis Hare-Reid
2. Nathan Baird
3. Finn Ecrepont
4. Jamie Ballantyne
5. Robert Griffiths
6. Stuart Faulds
7. Jamie Martin
8. Kieran Balfour
9. James Hilton
10. Luke McCowan
11. Leon Murphy
12. Ryan Connelly
14. Ryan Connelly
15. Chris Campbell
16. Sean Millarvie
17. Grant Thornburn
19. Danny Graham
Star Player
Greenock Morton
Ayr United
Daniel Farrell - A stunning plethora of stops towards the end of the game pretty much ensured Morton took the title. Everybody from Farrell through to Purdue played their part throughout the campaign, but the goalkeeper was certainly the start of the show on this night.
Jamie Martin - It was a night where most things just wouldn't come off for this young Ayr United side. However, Martin was at the heart of anything that did. He drove his side forward from midfield on several occasions, and was a notable beacon of light when the visitors were going forward.
Magic Moment
Greenock Morton
Ayr United
Despite Farrell's impressive saves, you have to go for Purdue's penalty as the magic moment for Morton. It was a very experienced head on young shoulders when the youngster stepped up to hit the penalty, and it was a tremendously cool penalty for the high-pressure nature of the game.
Some lovely football from Ayr early on down the left set up a chance for Hilton. He cleverly turned the defence before curling his effort in on goal. But for Farrell's alert goalkeeping, that would've been a lovely goal with some good working from the left-hand side.
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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