AFTER 40 years working away tirelessly behind the scenes at Cappielow, long-serving Morton kitman Andy Bryan last night took centre stage as Celtic sent a team to Greenock for his testimonial.

The childhood Ton fan was given a guard of honour by both teams before the match and walked to the centre circle raising a blue and white scarf aloft to the acclaim of 1,018 appreciative supporters.

It was a scene he himself would have seen many times over the years as the club paraded a new star signing, except he was now the individual lapping up some well-earned applause.

The 50-year-old made clear that he wanted the match to be a competitive contest rather than a light-hearted night of nostalgia where a parade of ex-players and pals turned out.

And his wish was granted with a memorable and entertaining 90 minutes between Jim Duffy’s men and a Celtic XI managed by ex-Ton man Stevie Frail and Parkhead skipper Scott Brown.

Ton started well, and Mark Russell fizzed in a low cross that found Lee Kilday arriving on the opposite side, but his fellow full-back failed to find a man with his cushioned lay-off.

Ross Forbes started to the left of a midfield four, and the talented playmaker forced a fine sprawling save from Celtic’s Italian shot-stopper Leo Fasan with a bending effort on nine minutes.

But the visitors took the lead largely against the run of play on 16 minutes through £2.3million Serbian frontman Stefan Scepovic, who is best pals with former Ton defender Stefan Milojevic.

The frontman’s movement was excellent as he evaded Thomas O’Ware’s attentions and cranked his neck back to meet Aidan Nesbitt’s pin-point centre with a powerful header that beat Derek Gaston.

Ton wasted no time and were immediately back on the front foot, with teenage striker Thomas Orr causing problems down the right.

The livewire frontman waltzed into the box along the bye-line before picking out Stefan McCluskey, whose scooped finish was desperately blocked on the line by Jack Breslin.

But the Cappielow club would not have to wait much longer to get back on level terms, with Orr restoring parity on 19 minutes.

Joe McKee cleaved a path through the heart of the Celtic defence with a perfectly-weighted slide rule pass, and Orr was onto it in a flash, confidently slotting under Fasan without breaking his stride.

It was the 18-year-old’s fourth goal of pre-season, and he was asking real questions of a Celtic defence boasting highly regarded Scotland and Republic of Ireland youth internationalists.

On 27 minutes, a Forbes cross from the left broke to him inside the box – showing his knack of popping up in the right place at the right time — but he prodded wide of the upright.

New signing Bobby Barr was impressing on the right flank for the Ton, giving left-back Kieran Tierney a thorough examination with his direct wing play.

And it was his precise cushioned header from a Forbes cross that presented McKee with a fantastic opportunity to give Morton the lead.

The midfielder connected with a thunderous volley inside the six-yard box that seemed certain to rip into the net, until impressive Celtic centre-half O’Connell threw himself in front of the ball to block.

While Celtic fielded a youthful back four, they included Anthony Stokes and the aforementioned Scepovic in the forward areas, and they were always going to test the Ton defence.

Yet it was perhaps highly regarded right winger Nesbitt who caused most problems, particularly as the visitors began to get on top towards the end of the first half.

The 18-year-old has shone brightly at Cappielow in the past, most notably in Scotland colours with an electric display for the Under-17s as they beat Belgium 3-1 in March 2014.

On 34 minutes, an out of sorts O’Ware cynically tripped Nesbitt as he eased away down the centre of the park, earning a booking.

And it was from his outswinging corner that Celtic regained the lead on 42 minutes, although it had more to do with an uncharacteristic blunder from Gaston than the delivery.

Gaston, Ton skipper for the evening, looked set to make a routine catch, but fumbled what seemed a straightforward catch, leaving Ton loan signing target Luke Donnelly a simple tap in from six yards. Moments earlier, Orr had just failed to convert another superb Russell cross, arriving right on cue at the far post but somehow failing to connect with the ball.

Ton had given a good account of themselves, and manager Duffy made just one change at the break, replacing Barr, who had picked up a slight knock, with Dutch trialist Romario Sabajo.

The former PSV Eindhoven youth was deployed on the left-hand side, and would show moments of promise in his 45 minutes on the field.

But those would be sporadic incidents spread over the half due to the fact Celtic would largely dominate with a slick possession game that left a tiring Ton team chasing shadows at times.

Ireland internationalist Stokes had come alive towards the end of the first half and gave an indication of his intentions with a sizzling strike that swung inches wide of the right-hand post.

And in a moment of true class he single-handedly fired his side further ahead three minutes after the break. Stealing possession just inside the Ton half, he glided forwards towards goal unopposed until coming face to face with O’Ware on the edge of the box.

Stokes beat the centre-half with a feint and then nonchalantly slotted past Gaston inside the left-hand side after giving the Ton keeper the eyes.

The former Arsenal, Sunderland and Hibs forward almost repeated the trick on 57 minutes, driving past O’Ware before attempting to beat Gaston with a disguised dink.

The Cappielow custodian had set himself for another low strike, so did superbly well to readjust and spring up to his right to claw clear.

Two minutes later, he produced another impressive reaction save to deny Nesbitt after the winger had breezed infield from his starting position on the right touchline.

Ton still looked a threat on the counter-attack, though, and trialist Sabajo went close to making it 3-2 on 63 minutes when he robbed O’Connell of possession and raced clear down the inside-left.

He slowed to finish just outside the six-yard box but excitedly lashed a rising strike over the top, narrowly clearing the crossbar before flying high into the Wee Dublin End.

Duffy would make seven changes in the second half, introducing the likes of second Dutch trialist in Ricardo Talu and Michael Tidser.

Tidser came on to a hero’s reception, and he showed why he is so highly regarded in Greenock with a clever reverse free-kick down the side of the Celtic wall.

The pass fed McCluskey, but the forward couldn’t quite get hold of the ball until the angle was against him, although he did still manage to force Fasan into a save at his left-hand post.

Just as Celtic had in the first half, Ton finished strongly and created a couple more promising openings in the closing stages.

On 87 minutes, Sabajo drew an impressive reaction block from Fasan with a thunderous volley from the edge of the box after McCluskey had teed him up with a cushioned touch.

The fates looked to have handed Bryan the chance to take centre stage again in the final minute when Sabajo appeared to be shoved inside the box as he leapt to meet a Dylan Stevenson cross from the right. Alas it was not to be, as referee Nick Walsh denied the man of moment a shot at glory from 12 yards by ignoring the appeals.

In all likelihood the unassuming kitman would have refused the opportunity to step back into the limelight in any case, as he did when Duffy offered him the chance to go on as a sub.

Despite his reluctance to enter the action there was no doubting this was Andy Bryan’s night and a fitting tribute to a man who has dedicated his life to the club he loves.

Morton (4-4-2): Gaston © (Adam, 68); Kilday (Stevenson, 77), O’Ware (Talu [Trialist], 61), Lamie, Russell; Barr (Sabajo [Trialist], 46), McKee (Cairnie, 77), Miller (Pepper, 56), Forbes (Tidser, 56); McCluskey, Orr (Scullion, 68). Booked: O’Ware (34).

Celtic (4-2-3-1): Fasan; Wardrop (McCart, 53), O’Connell ©, Breslin, Tierney; Thomson, Lindsay; Nesbitt, Donnelly, Stokes (Miler, 65); Scepovic. Subs not used: Murray, Hill, Hendry, McIlduff, McCabe (gk).

Referee: Nick Walsh. Attendance: 1,018.