MORTON Under-20s shared a 1-1 draw with an experienced Kilbirnie Ladeside team in a friendly at Valefield Park.

Andy Millen’s teenagers are currently building towards their own big kick-off in defence of their Development League West title, which begins at Stranraer on Monday September 5.

They suffered a 4-1 loss at Largs Thistle last Thursday and fell behind relatively early on at their junior rivals last night when Chris Malone bulleted home a header from Adam Forde’s corner.

It was a nervy start from the Cappielow kids as they struggled to deal with a series of Kilbirnie corners as the hosts piled on the pressure.

This fixture saw the return of a number of players who have been getting game time with the first team of late, though, and two of those emerging talents combined to equalise on 30 minutes.

Left-back Lewis Strapp clipped a long pass down the left flank for Scott Tiffoney to chase, and the fleet-footed frontman showed a searing turn off pace to outstrip the defender and collect.

Tight to the bye-line, the 17-year-old dropped the shoulder and scooped the ball inside ex-Albion Rovers defender Michael O’Byrne, leaving him on his backside as he netted from an acute angle.

From then on, the young Ton team settled and proved the dominant force for the most part, with trialist striker Kudus Oyenuga testing keeper Kieran Hughes with a downwards header.

The former Dundee United forward played, and scored, against the Ton in last month’s pre-season friendly at Livingston.

After a relatively quiet first half here, he was moved out to the left flank after the break and sparked into life, going within inches of giving his side the lead with a fierce swerving drive on 72 minutes.

Tiffoney clipped the top of the crossbar with a looping header before Alex McWaters twice went close in the final 10 minutes, but a second goal just evaded them.

Kilbirnie, too, had late chances. However, Jamie McGowan’s handling was sound as he clutched a Steven Meechan piledriver and an O’Byrne header to ensure the match ended in stalemate.

Morton (4-4-2): McGowan; Hynes, Mitchell, Tennent, Strapp; Stevenson, Eardley (Anderson, 77), Langan, Tiffoney (Armour, 84); McWaters, Oyenuga [Trialist] (Docherty, 77). Subs not used: Purdue, Duffy, Miller, Connor (gk).