St Mirren 3 - 0 Dundee United: Morgan spices up title race

Hows that for openers? Lewis Morgan fires home from 25 yards for the first of his two goals.  Photograph: Alan Harvey/SNS
Hows that for openers? Lewis Morgan fires home from 25 yards for the first of his two goals. Photograph: Alan Harvey/SNS
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Twelve months ago St Mirren were on their knees at the foot of the Championship. Now they have been transformed beyond all recognition into a vibrant, exciting team who surely must be amongst the promotion favourites. And, in Lewis Morgan, they have one of the division’s most potent attacking weapons as a shell-shocked Dundee United found to their cost in Paisley.

St Mirren manager Jack Ross piled praise on to his charges, Morgan in particular.

“In terms of belief this was a massive result, and the performance of Lewis doesn’t surprise me at all as he is a special player who is better than the offers we have had for him and can go play for a very big club,” Jack said.

“The clean sheet is massively pleasing, and with the likes of Kyle Magennis, Gary Mackenzie and Harry Davis nearly fit again it all bodes well.”

With both teams having exchanged close-calls in the early knockings, the home team made the breakthrough just short of the half hour. Morgan showed why he is considered one of the country’s top young prospects with a jet-heeled run and arrowing 25-yard finish to give Saints the lead.

By the close of the half the domination of the Buddies was total. They won every second ball and struck the frame of the United goal on two occasions as confidence visibly rippled through what is still an injury-ravaged squad.

If United had been lucky to go into the break only a goal behind their good fortune was to evaporate after the interval. They failed to get any sort of a grip on Morgan and ultimately took a severe thumping. Morgan, selected last week in the Scotland under-21 squad for the forthcoming Euro qualifier against the Netherlands, curled home a sublime second minutes after the restart to more or less kill the game as a contest.

Stephen McGinn saw his controlled side-foot volley flash inches wide and United keeper Harry Lewis saved smartly from Cammy Smith.

The rampant Morgan then set up Ian McShane who this time gave Lewis no chance with a glorious finish from 20 yards.

It could have been even more had the home team been a little more clinical, and in the end the margin of defeat flattered United who were a distant second best.

Indeed, United manager Ray McKinnon described his team’s performance as “very unexpected and very difficult to take”.

He added: “St Mirren were the better, hungrier and more energetic team.”