By Alan Gallacher at St Mirren Park
GOOD Vibrations echoed around St Mirren Park as Saints left the field following a far more convincing victory over Morton than the score suggested, and there were certainly enough positives on show to have the Saints fans making for the exits feeling good about themselves and looking ahead positively. Yeah sure Morton were dreadful, but in the past we have failed to pick teams apart when there for the taking, and today we ripped Morton apart.
For his team’s first outing in sight of the home fans Danny Lennon gave first glimpses of Steven Thompson, Gary Teale, Jereon Tesselaar and Nigel Hasselbaink with Graham Carey returning to St Mirren Park with a seat on the bench. Jim Goodwin sat between defence and midfield with Teale, Steven Thomson and Paul McGowan given the freedom to be fluid in their movement ahead of him.
Morton themselves have gone through a summer of huge personnel overhaul with huge swathes of the Cappielow squad released at the end of last season. New faces Ross Forsyth, Andy Graham, Paul Di Giacomo, Peter MacDonald and Archie Campbell all in from the start. The experienced Peter Weatherson was joined amongst the subs by Irish hitman, Andy Jackson, who like MacDonald joined up from St Johnstone as ‘Ton gaffer, Allan Moore, looks to add some goals to a squad who finished relatively well last season.
This of course was technically a competitive outing, but you would have to be really twisted or firmly stuck in the mid-90′s to think there was anything riding on this other than fitness ahead of East End Park a week on Monday. However, knowing a few Morton fans as I do for my sins to them it has far greater significance, which maybe tells a tale of where the respective clubs are.
Saints started slowly against their fired-up lower league opposition with Marc Smyth and Michael Tidser both flying into tackles they had little chance of winning. Eventually the likes of Teale and Thompson started to see more of the ball and only a save from Colin Stewart kept out a rasping driving from captain, Jim Goodwin, following some patient possession football.
Teale, playing far more centrally than in his Clydebank, Ayr and Scotland days was starting to dictate play and it was him who laid the opener on a plate after 20 minutes. He ghosted past a flurry of challenges before setting up Thompson who coolly picked his spot to open his account for his boyhood team.
The former Dundee United, Rangers, Scotland, Cardiff and Burnley man’s homecoming got better three minutes later when he doubled his tally. Paul McGowan scampered to the line and his cross was perfect for Thompson to easily nod past Stewart.
Saints continued to pass and play with the movement of Teale and Hasselbaink causing the Morton defence constant consternation. It was at this stage easy street for the Buddies who having quelled the visitor’s aggressive opening salvo were under absolutely no pressure against a team looking to lack any sort of genuine punch power.
There was a feeling at the interval that should Saints really put the boot down then the final score could have been anything such was the chasm in class between the two – and this isn’t just bias, there was light-years between them.
Half-Time: St Mirren 2-0 Morton
After the break Hasselbaink posted warning that there was no second half let up with a rifling right foot drive which skimmed inches wide. Soon after the third did arrive, Steven Thomson rattling home having been brilliantly set-up by Thompson in a moment that was as pleasing as it was difficult to explain.
Morton were by now in pieces and this allowed McGowan to dance through for a fourth. The now permanent Saint jinked between a plethora of red shirts before coolly picking his spot behind Stewart.
Saints kept going, but couldn’t add to their tally and disapointinlgy allowed Morton to hit two late consolation efforts through Peter Weatherson, the first of which Craig Samson maybe should have done better with.
Overall though the likes of Steven Thompson and Gary Teale were superb ably backed by Hasselbaink. Defensively there were maybe a few concerns given the manner with which Morton got theirr late goals, but we will take 4-2 wins all day long.
Full-Time: St Mirren 4-2 Morton
St Mirren: Samson, van Zanten (Barron 69), Tesselaar, McGregor, Mair, Goodwin, Teale, Thomson, Thompson (Carey 78), McGowan, Hasslebaink (McQuade 66).
Subs Not Used: McAusland, McLean, McShane, Smith (GK).
Morton: Stewart, Graham (Evans 46), Forsyth, Smyth, McCafferty, Rachirou, Di Giacomo, Tidser (McGeouch 65), MacDonald (Jackson 52), Campbell (Weatherson 59), O’Brien.
Referee: Steve Conroy.
Assistant Referee: John Gilmour.
Assistant Referee: Joseph Lawson.
Star Saint: I’ve gone for Gary Teale, everything he did an aura of quality about it.
Match pictures by Allan Picken – © Allan Picken Photography.