THOMAS O’Ware was gutted that Morton couldn’t hold onto their lead in Tuesday’s Premiership play-off first-leg with Dundee United — but he’s adamant his side are still well and truly in this tie, and they’ll be gunning for the Terrors at Tannadice.
The centre-back powered home a brilliant header after just seven minutes of the first leg clash to stun United and set up a dominant first-half performance from his troops.
But the second half was a different story, with Terrors boss Ray McKinnon making vital changes to his tactics that Ton couldn’t handle.
But O’Ware insists his team don’t know when they’re beaten and can go to Tayside knowing they’re not down and out just yet.
He exclusively told the Tele: “The first half was us in a nutshell this season, I thought we were brilliant. We got balls in behind, threatened them in areas that we knew we could, got the goal and defended brilliantly.
“But then we came out in the second half and it looked like we kind of ran out of steam a wee bit.
“I think I could’ve done better for their first goal but you don’t expect him to come up with a finish like that. For the second goal, Gats [Derek Gaston] says he couldn’t see it.
“We need to take the positives from the game though, there’s no sense in getting down about it, we’re still in the tie and we’re only a goal behind.
“Sometimes the boys feel a wee bit better away from home so we know that we need to dust ourselves down and get on with it.
“After any first-leg if you ask any manager it’s just about if you’re still in it, and we are. Dundee United’s manager, their board, directors can think whatever they want — we know we’re still in it.
“But the way the second half went it’s frustrating.”
The defender bagged an incredible 11th goal of the season from centre-half and he admits he’s always pleased to see one of his efforts finding the back of the net.
He even enjoyed a private joke during his celebration, but admits it’s difficult to see the funny side after Ton faltered in the second half and were unable to hold onto their strong position from the first.
He said: “I don’t ever go into any game thinking that I can’t score.
“I was a bit surprised by the way they were marking from the throw-in, Shanks [Lawrence Shankland] has put a good ball in and I didn’t see any of the centre-backs coming and I knew it was mine. I didn’t see where it went other than it going into the back of the net but it’s always good to score.
“I got a funny tattoo a few weeks ago, so my celebration was for the boys. But it’s not so funny now that we’ve not won the game, but the whole night was just frustrating especially after playing so well and putting so much into the first half.
“To come out and lose the game is disappointing. 1-1 wouldn’t have been so bad, but we’re not feeling sorry for ourselves.
“Nobody wants to be on holiday this weekend, we’re going into Friday night and we’ll be putting everything into it.”
Morton were denied two spot-kicks by referee Willie Collum but O’Ware doesn’t hold a grudge against the whistler.
The stand-in skipper was hauled to the deck by defender William Edjenguele in the second half and striker Gary Oliver was also thrown to the turf in the first half.
Collum refused to point to the spot for either incident, and O’Ware admits he would’ve been surprised to see either given in an important game such as Tuesday night’s play-offs.
He added: “After I scored the goal they realised they had to pick me up closely.
“But after that, they started doing it and I don’t think it was done fairly. I said to the referee ‘can you watch it?’ and he said ‘you’re doing it as well’.
“But I was trying to get his hands off me, and I said ‘the next one I’ll stand still, keep my hands down’ so I did it and he’s got his hands all over me.
“I fell to the ground but the refs aren’t going to give us things like that in these kind of games so I won’t eat myself up about it. It just gives me a wee bit extra to get up there again.
“Gary Oliver should’ve had a stonewall penalty as well. The ball is in the box and he’s made a run and the boy has blocked him.
“So it is a penalty. But again the ref isn’t going to give you it, I don’t think any ref gives you it.”