Morton managed only their second clean sheet of the season in a match littered with controversy which left Arbroath raging and claiming they were denied three penalties.
The home side, with only one victory in their last seven league games, made an impressive start and went in front after only three minutes when Jim McAlister fed Reece Lyon, who was perfectly positioned to volley the ball past former Ton goalkeeper Derek Gaston from ten yards.
“We knew the importance of the game and probably the best performance of the season as a team,” said Morton manager David Hopkin.” We dealt with everything. We knew it was going to be tough in what is a transitional year.
“We are doing everything we can to make this a better club.”
Referee Alan Newlands showed extreme leniency after 14 minutes taking no action after Arbroath’s Colin Hamilton appeared to elbow Ton’s Cammie Salkeld in the face, the Morton player retaliating by pushing Hamilton to the ground.
Morton never allowed Arbroath to settle and starved them of possession the Red Lichties managing only one effort in the first period, one minute from the break when Scott Stewart cut the ball back from the right for Jamie Murphy, but his first-time low shot from 15 yards was saved well by goalkeeper Danny Rogers.
Arbroath upped their workrate when they re-emerged but it took until 67 minutes to create a real opening when Hamilton drilled the ball in from the left for Bobby Linn, but Morton defender Peter Grant managed to get in a sensational goal saving tackle.
Arbroath were seething at referee Newlands after 73 minutes when Hamilton went down in the box after a heavy challenge by substitute Billy King. Penalty claims were waved away.
Arbroath boss Dick Campbell said: “I thought there were three contentious penalty decisions in the second half which we never got. The one on Colin Hamilton was a blatant penalty.
“We never questioned their keeper and I’m very angry the way my players started. We should have been more positive.
“I’m a positive guy. I have no complaints – Morton deserved it – but it was a terrible goal we lost.”