MORTON gaffer Gus MacPherson says he is gutted his young players were denied the chance to play at Celtic Park after they eased past the Premiership giant's colts team in the SPFL Trust Trophy.

With no first-team game at the 60,000-capacity stadium on Saturday, the 52-year-old insists there was no reason why the second-round clash had to be played at Airdrie's Excelsior Stadium, where Celtic B play their home matches.

While MacPherson has reservations about some aspects of the competition, he was delighted his players could use the tie to build a winning mentality after suffering back-to-back defeats in the Championship.

Ton face Montrose at Links Park on the weekend of October 9/10 in the next round of the revamped Challenge Cup tournament.

He told the Tele: “I’m not a big fan of the whole system, but you’ve got to play the games.

“I actually feel sorry for the Celtic kids because part of players' development is playing at their stadium, but instead we’ve played here in Airdrie on a questionable surface. The game should’ve been played at Parkhead.

“There was nothing on at Parkhead this weekend, so there was no reason for us to not be able to play there.

“I do get it - with the fixture schedule and things like that - they have to protect the park, but at this stage of the year there’s still growth.

“They’d have enjoyed the opportunity to play there as well.

“They play their development games here in Airdrie, so it’s part of the development, which I’ve said for many many years, to play at your own stadium.

“I’ve signed boys from Celtic who haven’t played at the stadium and that was disappointing when the draw was made because our younger players don’t get that chance either.

“It’s been diluted for a long time, we’ve brought in Welsh and Irish teams who then couldn’t fulfil their fixtures in the competition.”

The 52-year-old says that it was crucial to come away from the cup tie with a win ahead of Saturday's trip to face Championship favourites Kilmarnock.

He said: “We’re happy to have got a win, which was the most important thing.

“We’ve got it over and done with, we’ve been able to put it to bed and we’ll now move onto the game against Kilmarnock next week.

“What you try to instil in the group is a winning mentality and we’ve been able to get another win on the board and that’s about it really."

MacPherson says that he was pleased with the performance of some of his younger players who came into the side for the cup clash.

He added: “Some of the boys needed games and some of the younger players were due to get an opportunity as well. Celtic have some good kids in that team so they'll be learning all the time.

“We said we were going to bring in some of the younger players for this game. It’s a good opportunity for them to go and express themselves, but most importantly they learn.

“They did their jobs that’s the most important thing.”