JIM Duffy reckons Morton were running on empty in the second half of last night’s 2-1 defeat to Dundee United — but says it is still all to play for in Friday night’s Premiership play-off second leg at Tannadice.
Ton were all over their visitors in the first 45 but looked out of sorts in the second, and Duffy put it down to his side being out of gas after giving their all and then some in the first half.
United grew stronger following Simon Murray’s equaliser, and went on to win the tie through Blair Spittal’s second goal against Ton in just three days.
Duffy said: “Generally speaking for a game where there was a lot of tension, there was a lot of good play, the players gave their all.
“They’re running on empty a little bit but if we get a goal back on Friday it’s all to play for. The difference was the equaliser, really.
“I think that United changed their shape and went two up top with Simon Murray and Thomas Mikkelsen and got balls forward more and stretched us. Whereas in the first half we were the team stretching them and first and second to every ball.
“The first goal was a fantastic strike. You can always defend goals better but take nothing away from Murray it was a brilliant strike. The second goal was a bit more disappointing, I felt we should’ve dealt with it two or three times before they had the shot, and even when they did have the shot I felt we should’ve dealt better with it.
“Once United got their noses in front they bossed it from there and we had to hang on in there and try to stay in the tie.
“We had no real spark and energy after that because they were controlling it. If you try and go chase it they can pick you off because they’ve got terrific players, so we had to be organised, stay resilient — and sometimes in a two-legged tie you’ve got to take the defeat, and we decided to take 2-1 at best to stay in it.
“The first half we were outstanding. We took the lead from a fantastic goal and then Michael Tidser has hit the bar. That’s the difference, his hits the bar, Murray’s goes in, that can be slight differences. Gary Oliver had a shot as well and you’ve got to capitalise on these chances.”
Morton were denied two penalty decisions by referee Willie Collum, one in the first half when Gary Oliver went down under pressure and another in the second half when Thomas O’Ware was wrestled to the ground by William Edjenguele.
Duffy admits he was disappointed not to at least get one of their shouts — but he’ll take it on the chin and hope to take something from Friday’s crunch game.
He said: “I must admit, the first challenge on Gary Oliver I thought was a definite penalty. He’s running inside the boy, he’s come across him and it’s off the ball.
“But Willie has said to me there’s no way he’s near the ball, but I didn’t know that made any difference. I thought it was a penalty but the ref didn’t see it or didn’t give it.
“Tam O’Ware was screaming for his in the second half because there were arms and bodies all around him.
“But I’m not really too bothered about that, defenders do it all the time, but players will always look for it.”