MORTON were handed a second bite at the cherry against Alloa Athletic but squandered their bonus shot by surrendering a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at the Indodrill Stadium last night.

Back on Saturday January 16 a snow storm saw the original fixture abandoned after 67 minutes with a lacklustre Ton trailing 1-0 and looking unlikely to turn the tide.

The blizzard saved their bacon that afternoon and gave them an opportunity to come back and have another crack at picking up the three points against the Championship’s basement boys.

It seemed as though they had seized upon that slice of fortune when Declan McManus and Stefan McCluskey fired them into a 2-0 lead within the first 17 minutes of the rescheduled meeting.

But Colin Hamilton pulled one back within minutes before a significant fall from grace in the second-half was punished when Dougie Hill headed home a corner to snatch a share of the spoils.

The original fixture was the first time the Ton had played at Recreation Park since new Wasps boss Jack Ross made the decision to shave several yards off the touchline on either side.

Based on that experience and a consideration of the pinched pitch dimensions, Jim Duffy revisited his team selection and system for last night’s return. The Morton manager decided to forsake width and elected to line up in a narrow 4-3-1-2 formation with McCluskey brought in off the flank to operate behind strikers McManus and Denny Johnstone.

Out went Bobby Barr and Conor Pepper and in came Michael Miller and Ricki Lamie, the former featuring at right-back with the latter partnering Lee Kilday in central defence.

Elsewhere Thomas O’Ware was moved out of defence into midfield to operate as an anchor between Joe McKee and Ross Forbes.

The one enforced change was the inclusion of teenage keeper Jamie McGowan in place of Derek Gaston, who was required to sit out after suffering a head injury at Annan on Saturday.

The Ton boss had attempted to bring in an experienced back-up for the evening, with a plan to field former Hibs and Livi shot-stopper Andy McNeil foiled by the fact trialists are not permitted.

It is also understood an attempt was made to bring in veteran former Celtic and Scotland custodian Rab Douglas but the 43-year-old was unavailable.

Development squad custodian McGowan was handed the gloves - with Under-17s keeper Greig Connor, 16, listed as a substitute – for his second senior start.

His last top-team appearance came in the 2-1 Scottish Cup loss at Spartans on November 29 2014, seven days after coming off the bench against Stenhousemuir.

The young custodian was not displaying any outward sign of nerves; nevertheless, the fact he got a couple of positive early touches under his belt was important. He also saw an Isaac Layne flick bounce harmlessly beyond on his right-hand post following a Graeme Holmes corner on eight minutes.

Thereafter, he was rendered a spectator for the majority of the first half as Morton began an assault on the opposition goal.

They sparked into life on 10 minutes when McCluskey slipped a pass down the inside left channel for McManus, who chopped onto his right foot for a shot that deflected into the side-netting. McCluskey was thriving in his role behind the strikers and carved the Wasps defence open again on 14 minutes with another slide-rule pass, threading the ball to Johnstone on the right this time.

The Ton No.9 unleashed a fierce angled drive that keeper Scott Gallacher did well to plunge and parry. But in a slice of fortune that has evaded McManus since his return to Cappielow, the ball spun up into the air and hung tantalisingly.

Fleetwood loan striker McManus needed no second invitation and pounced to nod into the net from inside the six-yard box and score the first goal of his third spell with the Ton.

At the opposite end of the goalscoring spectrum was McCluskey. Fresh from his hat-trick heroics against Annan at the weekend, the forward was flying.

And he doubled his side’s lead on 17 minutes, firing a fantastic finish inside the left-hand post after Johnstone pushed a deft pass between two defenders to pick out his burst into the box.

They had barely finished celebrating when, less than two minutes later, Alloa struck back to halve the deficit. Working the play across the face of the Ton box from right to left, the ball was eventually prodded into the path of unattended left-back Hamilton.

The former Brechin City defender unleashed a low piledriver that took a wicked deflection, sending it spinning up past McGowan and into the back of the net.

It was a setback that would prove crucial to the final outcome but not one that caused too much concern at the time.

Morton maintained the momentum, holding an iron grip in midfield, winning almost every 50-50, picking up the second balls whilst attacking with conviction.

The front pairing of McManus and Johnstone were stretching and straining the home defence with their movement. Hanging on the shoulder of the last defender to good effect, Birmingham loanee Johnstone forced two more smart reaction stops from Gallacher, both of which were almost identical to the piledriver that led to McManus scoring.

The ball did not break so kindly on these occasions, although one was pawed behind for a corner from which McKee found Lamie arriving around the back.

The towering defender scored with a right-foot volley in a recent Under-20s match and produced a similar effort.

This connection actually packed more punch but was prevented from ripping into the back of net by Ryan Finnie’s crucial block.

Miller put over three teasing crosses while O’Ware, McCluskey and McManus were just off target as Ton peppered Gallacher’s goal, but they would have to settle for a 2-1 lead at the break.

The failure to add to their advantage would prove critical as the Ton struggled to live up to their first-half performance.

So striking was the drop off from the standards set, you would have been forgiven for thinking the teams had swapped kits at half-time.

Now it was the Wasps that were first to everything, expending that extra ounce of desire to get to the second ball, and ruling the roost in midfield.

Where McCluskey was finding space and toying with the opposition, Michael Duffy was now the individual who looked like doing damage in the final third.

Pulling off to the left to receive a pass on 56 minutes, he breezed inside Miller and flashed a shot just outside McGowan’s left-hand post.

The Celtic loanee, who saw his first senior goal in Scotland struck from the record books after the original match was cancelled, was in the mood now and weaved around O’Ware minutes later.

Taking aim from a similar spot, slightly to the left side of the box, he hit the target this time, forcing McGowan to drop down to his left to smother.

It was becoming increasingly apparent that the visitors would likely need to score again to claim all three points.

No sooner had I scribbled that thought in my notebook, Alloa skipper Hill met Burton O’Brien’s inswinging corner with a powerful header to equalise.

The defender stole a march on marker O’Ware to bullet the ball into the net from close range and ultimately earn his side a point.

Duffy reacted by switching to a 4-4-2 formation and replacing Ross Forbes and Johnstone with Barr and Alex Samuel on 78 minutes.

The changes added a fresh impetus to the Ton and they managed to get back on the front foot towards the end but without really threatening to retake the lead.

Alloa were not exactly pinned back, though, and could have conceivably snatched victory as they racked up a series of corners right at the death.

But when the final whistle blew there could be no doubt Morton had failed to make the most of the get-out-of-jail free card dealt to them last month despite leaving with a point.