Morton plunged deeper into relegation trouble while Dumbarton eased themselves away from the Championship drop zone with a hard-fought victory in a dour bottom-of-the-table match.
All credit to the groundstaff that the pitch was in good condition after the monsoon that has hit Dumbarton in recent days. The Lower Clyde derby was in no danger of being called off, but the surface was understandably greasy.
Morton manager Kenny Shiels was at last able to take his place in the dugout after serving a touchline ban.
In the single-stand configuration of the Bet Butler Stadium that put him on the far side of the pitch from the nearly full stand, but he probably still felt the anxiety of the Morton fans who sensed that victory was the only permissible outcome if the task of staying in the Championship is to be achieved.
Garry O’Connor did not make it, however. Assistant manager David Hopkin, standing in for Shiels, who is continuing what is now a self-imposed ban on post-match press conferences, confirmed afterwards that it might be a week or two before the former Scotland striker receives his international clearance.
For Morton, new signing David Robertson made some sort of history, starting his first game for the Greenock club as captain in place of the suspended Dougie Imrie. He played for 52 minutes and showed glimpses of what he could do for Morton.
Jamie McCormack also made his debut while, for Dumbarton, ex-Morton player Mark McLaughlin made his first start.
The first chance of note came after eight minutes when Scott Linton sent in a sharp cross, which Colin Nish glanced wide.
Mark Gilhaney’s cross was also headed wide by Jordon Kirkpatrick, before Mitch Megginson
got himself booked for a nasty challenge on Barry McKay and then raced upfield to shoot just wide.
Referee Kevin Clancy was right up with play in the 18th minute when Tomas Peciar hauled down Bryan Prunty and correctly gave a yellow card rather than the red the home fans demanded, there being players between Prunty and Nico Caraux’s goal.
Reece Hands dithered too long when presented with a real chance after 21 minutes, his eventual shot going weakly to Stephen Grindlay’s left side.
The first quarter had been just about even, though Dumbarton went ahead in the booking tally when Chris Turner scythed down Kabba-Modou Cham.
Caraux did well to deal with a shot-cross from Grindlay before Fouad Bachirou had the ball in the net for Morton only to learn that he was offside.
Play became somewhat aimless as the half wore on, with the long punt and the scrappy stuff dominating. It nearly worked for Dumbarton, but Andy Graham was clearly offside when he bundled home a “goal” from a sclaffy pass.
It was clear that a mistake might well be needed for a goal to be scored, and it duly came in the final minute of the half when Chris Turner fired in a 25-yarder and Hands didn’t move his hands. Referee Clancy judged the handball to be sufficient for a penalty and Prunty smacked it home. Nish should have put the Sons further ahead early in the second half, but his shot trundled wide, before Hands squandered a real chance at the other end, shooting wide after a move started by McKay.
Megginson’s snatched half-volley after 57 minutes just dipped over Caraux’s bar before Morton enjoyed a spell of pressure that came to nothing largely because of Dumbarton’s resolute defence.
Dumbarton manager Ian Murray’s introduction of debutant loan signing Chris Kane proved crucial.
Dumbarton were willing to have a go, Megginson flashing a low shot wide after 73 minutes, and had Mark Gilhaney ended his mazy run with a goal rather than a shot straight at Caraux we might have been talking goal of the season.
The clincher needed a dollop of fortune, Nish breaking through after 82 minutes and shooting straight at Caraux, only for the ball to rebound to the striker who crossed to the far post where Kane headed home from point-blank range.
Morton’s best effort came in injury time, Aiden Fulton’s goalbound shot superbly saved by Grindlay.
Shiels, Hopkin and Co must hope they have time to rebuild Morton, for on this form they are doomed.