REPORT: Morton 9 Viewfield Rovers 0
Published: 17 Jul 2013 11:30
Despite starting with six first teamers in Derek Gaston, Jonathan Page, Reece Hands, Joe McKee, Archie Campbell, and Tony Wallace, over half of Ton's goals were scored by David Hopkin's starlets.
However, that is not to say those first teamers were mere bystanders; they scored four of the goals, while their presence and leadership was crucial.
This was evidenced by the development squad's previous outing in which they lost 7-2 in a bounce game to a strong Stranraer side.
Aidan Fulton was the oldest player at just 19, and the side looked like a rudderless ship at times as Stranraer cut through them at will, particularly in the first 45 in which they surged into a 6-1 lead.
And although Viewfield were never going to be of that same standard, it was a still a case of boys against men in a physical sense.
The experienced players set the tone as they combined to create the opening goal after just four minutes with a route-one effort.
Gaston shelled a kickout straight down the middle and Wallace pounced on the visitors' failure to cope, flicking the ball past advancing keeper Colin Barker for Archie Campbell to tap in.
While goalkeeper Gaston's gargantuan punts were wreaking havoc, McKee was picking holes in the Viewfield rearguard with increasing frequency.
On 10 minutes he sent Dylan McLaughlin in on goal. The buzz bomb wideman ignored options in the centre and attempted to slip the ball past Barker, but his effort was easily turned wide.
McKee himself added the second on the quarter hour mark when he swept into the net from 18 yards after the ball broke kindly for him after Barker had cleared under pressure from McLaughlin.
The amateurs were cutting their own throats at times by playing a high defensive line and attempting to catch players offside despite applying no pressure on the man in possession.
This meant that a quality midfielder like McKee was able to stroll around picking out through ball after through ball, even from his position as a deep-lying playmaker.
Viewfield were duly punished on 22 minutes when McKee slipped Campbell in on goal with a pass from his own half, and the jet-heeled frontman rounded the keeper with ease to make it 3-0.
Left winger Fulton is a player who looks like he could really push David O'Brien for a first-team berth this coming season and he added a fourth on 50 minutes with a fantastic free-kick.
After Wallace was fouled on the right of the box 20 yards out, Fulton stepped up and demonstrated impressive technique as he whipped the ball over the wall and past Barker's flailing dive.
Seventeen-year-old defender David Verlaque has been transformed into a sitting midfielder under Moore and Hopkin since featuring there in a reserve game against Rangers last season.
And when he found himself in what would have been nosebleed territory in the past after a one-two with Campbell, he showed tremendous composure to fire the ball high into the net to make it five.
It was at this stage that the development squad players truly started to excel under the guidance of Wallace - the only remaining outfield first-team player.
Their passing was crisp and sharp - the players already appear to be reaping the benefits of full-time training on the surface at Parklea - and they grew in confidence as the game progressed and Viewfield tired.
On the left flank, Mark Russell was looking the part, and after one of his trademark drops of the shoulder, he drove to the byline and picked out David McNeil, who swept home at the near post.
Full-back Craig Knight was making similar inroads on the opposite flank after swapping sides with Glenn Eadie, and he crossed for Jordan Cairnie to head in number seven.
McNeil, in particular, was shining in the position just off the frontman, using his excellent close control and technique to create space for a shot that cracked against the post on 81 minutes.
Four minutes later he ghosted into the box and shuffled past a couple of challenges before he was sent tumbling by Zoltan Istvan.
Referee Steven Reid pointed to the spot and McNeil claimed the ball, but he was overruled by Wallace, who placed the penalty into the bottom-right corner, sending Barker the wrong way.
Cairnie proved a prolific frontman for the Under-17s last term, and transferred that form to the reserves with a hat-trick in the second string's final fixture against Partick Thistle.
And he wrapped up the scoring three minutes from time when he lifted Eadie's raking diagonal pass over Barker with a delicate touch and fired in from an acute angle.
St Mirren face local amateur side Port Glasgow OBU at their training ground in Ralston tonight in the second semi-final.
MORTON (4-2-3-1): Gaston (7); Knight (7), Jamieson (7), Page (6) (Irvine 39, 7), Eadie (7); McKee (8) (McNeil 46, 8), Hands (7) (Verlaque 46, 7); D. McLaughlin (6), Wallace (7), Fulton (8) (Russell 60, 7); Campbell (8) (Cairnie 60, 8). SUBS NOT USED: Ferris. REFEREE: Steven Reid. ATTENDANCE: 233.
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