A SOLITARY late strike by Jason Naismith was enough for St Mirren to claim Renfrewshire Cup triumph number 55 at a rain-lashed Cappielow. Morton will be pleased to have pushed their top-flight rivals so hard, but few could argue the Paisley men just about deserved to reclaim the trophy.
Following a close-season of change during which Tommy Craig has been promoted to manager and a clutch of top team players have departed, Saints will have been content enough with their afternoon’s toil, even if few will be kidded into thinking they are fully up to speed in terms of performance or numbers. Even with Steven Thompson and Jim Goodwin out injured, there is still a glaring need for some squad-strengthening before the real action gets under way.
With new manager Jim Duffy heralding a new era by clearing out the deadwood who let the club down so badly last season, there was also a fresh look about Morton and they twice threatened to upset the odds. Stefan McCluskey and Andrew Barrowman were both inches away with drives from the edge of the area.
The visitors took far longer to find any sort of flow to their game, but when they did it had much to do with midfield kids Kenny McLean and John McGinn taking a grip of proceedings and only two very smart saves by Nicolas Caraux as half-time neared kept the Buddies at bay. The giant French goalkeeper made a superb stop to push away a header by James Marwood before denying Gregg Wylde.
Marwood, son of former Arsenal star Brian, showed flashes to suggest he could offer something in the coming season and he nearly created a goal when he fed sub Adam Brown, only for him to volley wide.
Morton, however, were not out of it and Saints needed to be rescued by ’keeper Marian Kello, who produced a superb low save to repel Joe McKee’s powerful low drive.
With extra time looming, Saints, who have not lost in Greenock in a decade, produced the best move of the game to claim the silverware. Marwood, Mo Yaqub and Wylde were all involved in a lacerating one-touch move before Jason Naismith arrived at the back post to fizz home the winner.