BOB McHugh admitted Morton gave themselves 'a mountain to climb' after their lacklustre first half showing against Dundee United.

The Tangerines took an early lead at Tannadice on Saturday via Pavol Safranko, who reacted quickest in the box to give Robbie Neilson’s side the opener after just eight minutes.

Peter Pawlett then doubled the hosts’ advantage before the half-hour mark, capitalising on some poor defending in the Ton midfield and defence to make it 2-0.

And while things improved in the second period with McHugh pulling one back for the visitors, the forward admitted the damage was already done.

He told the Tele: “We can’t afford to give away goals like that, it's as simple as that.

"We were fortunate to go in at half-time at 2-0 if truth be told. We had a couple of chances early on it, but the goals we gave away were was just sloppy.

"The second half was the standard we expect from the players, but we had already given ourselves a mountain to climb by that point."

Morton manager Jonatan Johansson spoke after the match saying he gave the players a “rollocking” in the changing room at the break, questioning some of his players’ mentalities.

McHugh accepts the harsh words were needed - and says that the blame for the defeat lies with the players and not the manager.

He added: “The boss gave a few home truths at half-time and tweaked a few things as well, which seem to work.

“The second half we looked better. We were a threat going forward, we defended more robustly but it was just a shame that we had already given away the two poor goals by then.

“It’s not down to the manager, it’s down to the boys on the park and once you cross that line, it’s up to us to take on that responsibility properly, and show that composure and bravery on the ball and it took us a while to get going again.

“Dundee United have brought in new players and the crowd was right up for it.

"I just think we didn’t show what we were about in the first half and we paid the price.”

The striker scored his tenth goal of the season for Morton on Saturday, his best season since his 2015/16 season with Falkirk.

But his goal at the weekend gave him little comfort after seeing his side ultimately leave Tannadice empty-handed.

He said: “I was desperate to get a point for the team but it seemed like the ball wouldn't break for us later in the game.

“I was happy to get on the scoresheet but I went home disappointed on Saturday night. We’ve not got anything from the game, so the goal ultimately meant nothing."