St Mirren 3 - 1 Morton: Saints win Renfrewshire derby

St Mirren's Lewis Morgan, left, is challenged by Mark Russell of Morton. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

St Mirren's Lewis Morgan, left, is challenged by Mark Russell of Morton. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

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Leaving aside the Renfrewshire Cup, it’s more than 17 years since fifth-placed Morton last came out on top against their local rivals – a record that left Saints boss Alex Rae with a few butterflies.

After seeing his side pip Morton in a 3-1 triumph, Rae admitted: “That was an important win for us.

“Everyone had been going on about how long it had been since Morton had won against us and that puts more pressure on you because we didn’t want to be the ones who ended that run.

“It was a really good old-fashioned tussle. I told my players at half-time that I wanted more aggression from them because I felt we’d been a bit off the pace.”

The Renfrewshire derby may have received only a fraction of the attention given to today’s skirmish at Hampden but it is unlikely that the latter contest will produce a goal better than the one which opened the scoring.

A swift and fluent passing move culminated with Rocco Quinn threading the ball through for Lawrence Shankland and the striker, on loan from Aberdeen, held off his marker to fire a shot into Derek Gaston’s top left-hand corner from 15 yards.

However, Morton came back strongly and looked the better side for much of the first half – and they would have gone in level at the interval had leading scorer Denny Johnstone not failed to hit the target with two convertible opportunities.

The visitors continued to enjoy the bulk of possession and they finally claimed the goal their pressure merited just before the hour.

Bobby Barr and Declan McManus combined to work the ball to Johnstone and this time the big striker made no mistake, placing the ball beyond Jamie Langfield’s outstretched left hand from just inside the 18-yard box.

However, Saints scored in their next attack, with Calum Gallagher displaying composure to pass the ball inside the far post after walking it along the edge of the penalty area.

Morton pressed for the equaliser and McManus claimed in vain for a penalty when he went down after a challenge by Jason Naismith.

While he and his team-mates appealed, Saints broke away and Shankland selflessly rolled the ball into the path of Stephen Mallan, who drove home his 14th goal of the season in the dying seconds.

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