THE length of the Championship separated these two before a ball was kicked, yet Morton very nearly made a mockery of the league standings.
Scorers: Morton: Habai 69; Hamilton Academical: Andreu 33
Allan Moore’s side outplayed leaders Hamilton for huge swathes of this encounter and will feel they deserved to take maximum points on the balance of both chances and possession. What is for sure is that with many more 90 minutes like this and neither team will be occupying their current positions for too much longer.
The manner of the performance delighted the Morton manager, who having watched his team slump to the bottom of the table in recent weeks, insisted there signs his team are beginning to get back on track. Moore said: “This is a point towards recovery, a baby step in the right direction. I felt we got what we deserved at the very least, as we maybe deserved to win the game.
“We missed a lot of chances and this is what has been happening to us, but we were better today than we have been. When Nacho [Novo] gets up to speed and we get some of our football players back, then we will climb the table.
Hamilton manager Alex Neil conceded that his team hadn’t been at their best, saying: “It was a scrappy game. Morton could have been ahead before we scored. However, once we were ahead, we were comfortable and the goal we lost was very disappointing.”
From the first whistle the home team exhibited far more gusto and appetite than they had in the 2-0 home loss to Alloa a week earlier, with makeshift striker Michal Habai warming the gloves of Kevin Cuthbert in the Accies goal inside two minutes.
Morton forced their table-topping guests to abandon their usual studied passing style in favour of a more direct approach, with the returning Mark McLaughlin making a huge difference at the back against his former club.
McLaughlin’s return may have been key, but all eyes were on debutant Novo following the former Rangers man signing a short-term deal in midweek. The Spaniard largely struggled, although he very nearly opened the scoring when his tenth-minute volley clattered off the bar.
Accies were rescued again by the frame of the goal midway through the half when Tomas Peciar’s header clipped the top of the bar. This came after Steven Stirling’s shot had been deflected inches wide and Jonathan Page’s glancing header had been hooked away on the line by Ziggy Gordon.
With their passing game completely absent, Accies were second best, yet they still managed to head in at the break with the lead courtesy of a well-taken angled finish from Anthony Andreu following Morton’s inability to deal with a cross into the area.
To say this was rough justice on Morton would be a massive understatement, such had been their contribution, but it was credit to them that they failed to buckle and continued to be the better team after the restart, albeit without forcing the same string of close calls.
The introduction of Joe McKee afforded them a touch more craft in midfield and their endeavours eventually paid off when Habai guided home a header with little over 20 minutes to play.
Despite being pegged back, there was little response from Accies, who will be hugely disappointed with their showing, as it was far from the stuff champions are made from. Having to deploy key players such as Gordon and Grant Gillespie out of position didn’t help their cause, but this was a flattering point.
Indeed, they could easily have left Greenock with nothing in tow had Cuthbert not foiled Page late on when the former Accies defender looked set to score with a downward header the keeper instinctively blocked with his legs.