TEENAGE winger Scott Tiffoney marked his first senior start with a brace as Morton shared a 2-2 draw with Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena last night.

In what was the Ton’s first public friendly following a number of closed-doors matches, manager Jim Duffy utilised the club’s development squad to plug gaps in his incomplete senior squad.

The Ton boss’s roster is still very much a work in progress, and with the likes of Ross Forbes, Conor Pepper and Mark Russell also absent through injury it meant opportunities for the Under-20s.

READ MORE: Morton boss Jim Duffy says Scott Tiffoney proves he was right not to offer contracts to trialists

Tiffoney was selected to start on the left and played ahead of Dunoon-born full-back Lewis Strapp in a 4-4-2 formation. Ruaridh Langan, meanwhile, was deployed wide on the right. There were debuts for new signings Michael Doyle and Gary Oliver, while Jamie McDonagh was listed as a trialist due to the fact the paperwork has not yet been completed on his one-year deal.

Livingston also had a number of trialists of their own, and it was one of the two to start the match who opened the scoring on eight minutes as Ton got off to a ropey start.

Former Dundee United striker Kudus Oyenuga, who wore the No.9 jersey, was allowed to advance down the Ton right before waltzing infield unopposed and slotting a cool finish round Derek Gaston. Morton could and should have equalised just two minutes later, but after doing superbly well to rob last man Josh Mullin of possession, McDonagh suffered a rush of blood to the head and clipped over.

It was proving a real baptism of fire for the 20-year-old Northern Irishman, who looked a little shell-shocked as he was buffeted around by no-nonsense defenders Sean Crighton and Alan Lithgow.

On the left, young Tiffoney also initially struggled with the physical aspect of the game and was easily forced off the ball on a couple of occasions. But the 17-year-old soon cottoned on to the fact he could easily evade those same opponents with a burst of acceleration or a touch of trickery.

One jet-heeled run that left defenders trailing in his wake before he stabbed in a cross with the outside of his boot seemed to inspire an epiphany. From then on, he was emboldened and performed with an elan oft seen at youth level as he provided the Ton with a real creative spark.

READ MORE: Morton boss Jim Duffy says Scott Tiffoney proves he was right not to offer contracts to trialists

Defender Strapp was also catching the eye, and he and Tiffoney worked in tandem to carve the hosts open on 27 minutes. The left-back fed Tiffoney and then continued his run down the flank to get on the end of the wideman’s clever clipped return over the top.

Despite being just 16 years old, Strapp has the gait and barrel-chested physique of a man, and 6ft right-back Craig Halkett bounced off him as they chased down the pass shoulder to shoulder. It left Strapp with the freedom to deliver from the bye-line and he fizzed in a dangerous low cross which unfortunately found no takers. He made another important if slightly fortunate contribution at the other end shortly afterwards when Mullin’s rising drive from 15 yards clipped his head and deflected over the bar to safety.

In an interview with the Tele, recent recruit Doyle told how he had worked overtime at St Johnstone to improve his crossing, and he gave a working illustration of this on 32 minutes.

The rampaging right-back burst forward in support of an Oliver-led charge, and flighted over a deep cross that found McDonagh ghosting in unchecked at the far post. It was another excellent chance for the ex-Sheffield United striker to open his account, but after adjusting his body to execute a mid-air volley, he sliced through the ball and failed to convert.

After controlling possession for much of the middle portion of the half, the Ton lost their composure in the final five minutes and could consider themselves fortunate not to fall further behind. A mix up on the edge of the box presented Oyenuga with another one-on-one with Gaston. The goalkeeper came out on top this time, though, plunging to parry down to his left.

The Sinclair Street side enjoyed a huge slice of luck as Mullin somehow managed to scramble the ball wide of an empty goal as he slid in to meet the rebound. Gaston came to the rescue again less than 60 seconds later after Josh Watt picked a hole in the visitors’ back four with a simple slide-rule pass. Mullin darted in behind to collect the pass but saw his angled drive halted by the outstretched left boot of Gaston.

The ball lodged between the shot-stopper’s studs and the turf in a manner similar to that which saw Switzerland’s Valon Behrami burst one during a Euro 2016 group stage clash with France. Just when Livingston would have been feeling as though they were firmly in control, Ton caught them on the hop to equalise right on the cusp of half-time. A swift counter-attack saw the ball transition through Langan and Tidser before reaching Tiffoney hanging out on the left corner of the box.

The talented teen checked back onto his right, which is his stronger foot despite playing on the left, to shift outside Halkett and quickly fire off an expected shot all in the blink of an eye. He expertly pulled the ball back across his body, catching out both the confused defender and trialist keeper Gary Maley, who was beaten low to his right.

The half-time whistle followed shortly thereafter and was met with expletive-ridden rants from a frustrated home team. Both managers made changes at the break, and as fate would have it two of the newcomers combined to restore Livingston’s lead - just not in the manner you might expect.

READ MORE: Morton boss Jim Duffy says Scott Tiffoney proves he was right not to offer contracts to trialists

For it was Ton sub keeper Andy McNeil who dropped a Nicky Cadden cross-cum-shot at the feet of Danny Mullen inside the six-yard box, presenting him with the easiest goal he will ever score.

Immediately prior to that, McDonagh had gone close with low free-kick –awarded after a foul on Tiffoney – which flashed just wide of the right-hand upright. On 58 minutes, defender Ricki Lamie almost cracked the same post in two with a thunderous half volley that he unleashed after Tidser’s inswinging corner broke to him round the back.

The combination of a raft of substitutions and whistle-happy referee Colin Steven regularly blowing up for free-kicks then stripped the game of any momentum for close to a quarter of an hour.

It was Tiffoney who injected life back in proceedings on 72 minutes by scooping up a pass from sub Thomas Orr and rifling a composed left-foot finish into the net to tie things up at 2-2.

Credit for the goal must also go to the returning Tidser for straining to stretch out a toe to nick possession off the opposition and take a dull one on the follow through for his trouble. Like fellow youth academy graduate Tiffoney, Strapp continued to impress, producing two important and precisely-timed slide tackles to halt promising Livingston attacks down his side.

On the opposite side of the defence, Doyle had been a positive vocal presence, and he could be heard encouraging his team-mates to refuse to settle for a draw, friendly or not. And he showed he was not just all talk by doing his utmost to help edge the Ton in front in the closing stages.

The defender took matters into his own hands on 84 minutes, surging deep into enemy territory and going for goal with a swerving drive that narrowly cleared the crossbar.

With that went the final chance of an enjoyable 90 minutes that both outlined the work that still needs to be done in the transfer market as well as offering some encouraging signs.