By Kenny MacDonald

JIM DUFFY declared he was delighted with his Morton side despite defeat to Premiership outfit Partick Thistle at the weekend.

Chris Erskine hit a first-half double as Jags dominated, but Michael Tidser pulled one back with a fierce shot.

And after the break Ross Forbes saw his penalty brilliantly pushed away by Jags trialist keeper David Crawford as the Ton fought back to try and save the game.

However, following the friendly loss Duffy said: “The biggest thing that impressed me most was that we didn’t get too down.

“We didn’t get despondent especially with Thistle popping the ball 

“It is easy in a pre-season game to say, ‘I’m not running after him - I’m letting him go,’ but they didn’t do that and to their credit they worked really hard and it was an enjoyable match.”

The Ton team chief added: “It was a good education for us and, considering we had three trialists playing and Lewis Strapp at left back who is only 16 and who I thought was terrific, we did alright.

“Getting the goal before half-time gave us a wee bit of confidence.

“We got a wee bit more of a foothold in the game in the second half and it was more even.”

The match itself followed the routine pre-season formula with a lot of passion, but little pattern and then the procession of substitutions from half-time onwards.

It was the first 45 minutes which provided the thrills and spills for the 607 fans with Thistle exerting their dominance almost from the start.

Cappielow keeper Andy McNeil flew across goal in nine minutes to make a full length save and turn away David Amoo’s rising shot.

Ton responded with Jamie McDonagh testing Thistle keeper Crawford before Jags took the lead in 12 minutes.

Amoo whipped the ball in from the right to find Erskine in space on the middle of the six-yard line and he cracked in the opener.

Amoo was next up with a neat move on the right of the box, twisting and turning before rifling a drive across the face of goal in 18 minutes as it looked like a really difficult day for the home side.

But Morton rallied and McDonagh had a header smuggled off the line.
Erskine had the ball in the net again, only to be dubiously ruled offside.

He latched onto a fine diagonal, first time pass by Steve Lawless and cracked a low effort past McNeil in 19 minutes but his celebrations were cut short by ref Barry Cook.

McNeil once again came to the Ton’s rescue by pushing away an Erskine header just before the half hour.

Then Forbes gave the Cappielow crew a bit of respite by cutting in from the right and whacking a shot from distance only to see it hurtle into the arms of keeper Crawford.

Thistle took the warning and eased into a 2-0 lead in 33 minutes with a spectacular scissors-kick from Erskine.

He hitched his body into the air in the middle of the box to meet Callum Booth’s inviting cross from the left and smashed the ball into the bottom left.

Erskine was thirsting for a hat-trick and 10 minutes from the interval he clipped in an angled shot from the right, but McNeil moved smartly to smother.

Duffy’s troops then came close to self destruction with a couple of blunders. Firstly when keeper McNeil was slow to pass the ball out and Ade Azeez charged in to block and the ball squirted across the box for a throw-in.

And secondly when Forbes was mugged for possession after delaying a pass and Azeez swiftly switched the ball towards the back post where Amoo charged in only to hit the post with a close range effort then career forward and smack the woodwork himself in 43 minutes!

Just 30 seconds from half-time Morton pulled a goal back through midfielder Tidser.

McDonagh won possession on the right and sparked chaos in the box with a low ball in. And after a scramble, including a goal line clearance, Tidser pounced from 15 yards to bury his shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

The second half was a non-event with only the penalty incident sparking any interest in 55 minutes.

Jags’ Dan Devine sent Gary Oliver sprawling with a late lunge and Forbes stepped up to smack the ball high to the right before Crawford dived across to manage both hands on it and flip the penalty away.

Duffy disclosed that he will take his time before making judgement on the two trialists who started the friendly, but insisted McDonagh will put pen to paper.

He said: “I will have a think about it and I won’t make a decision right this minute.

“But Jamie McDonagh is going to be signed, it was just the paperwork had not been completed in time for this game.

“He showed good pace. He and Gary linked up well at times.

“It was good to give a lot of young players a run out, like Jai Quitongo, and it gave them the experience of a run out against a Premiership team.

“But we have no friendlies for the rest of the week because we wanted a bit of breathing space and we also have a few injuries.

“We have quite a list and we’re a bit stretched just now.

“Lee Kilday took a knock on his knee, but we asked him to go out in the second half and give us 15 minutes which he did but we could not take any more risk on it.

“Hopefully, we will have a healthier squad for next week when the season