MORTON gaffer Gus MacPherson believes pushing Kilmarnock all the way in their Premier Sports Cup clash will stand his players in good stead this season.

The Ton boss took plenty of positives from last night’s performance despite the penalty shoot-out defeat seeing his men exit the tournament at the group stage.

Ton were pegged back right at the death by Killie sub Kyle Connell after a superb Lewis McGregor strike put the visitors ahead early on at Rugby Park.

The Ton boss was proud of his players after they had only one training session as a group ahead of the Rugby Park tie.

MacPherson says that his young players proved their mettle against Tommy Wright’s men and believes last night’s test was ideal preparation for their Championship campaign.

He told the Tele: “It was all positive considering that we’ve only had one training session as a whole group in the last 10 days.

“It was a working exercise for us and, as you’d expect, Kilmarnock dominated the bulk of possession, but we kept our shape,worked hard and were really positive in the way that we played.

“Even when we were looking to change things, we were restricted with what we had on the bench.

“Lewis McGregor has come in and got his goal playing against Jason Naismith, a right-back with great experience and such a pedigree.

“Michael Garrity has got on as well and played for the final half hour, so they’re getting the opportunity to very quickly learn just how much it takes to play at this level of football.

“We’ve got really good defenders and experienced guys with Alan [Lithgow] and Brian [McLean] at the back there, so it’s good to have a shape about us and when you can trust individuals like that then it means only good things going forward. Kilmarnock are a good side so it was very pleasing to have pushed them that hard and for that long, even if it meant that we’ve dropped out of the competition.

“We’re about 10 days and three games behind everyone else now, so it’s really encouraging to have played like that considering the circumstances that we’ve come into the game with.”