Morton 1 - 1 St Mirren: Thomas O'Ware denies league leaders
It was a typical festive derby fare from the off, with plenty of endeavour, although the tempo of the game did not always allow the more cultured players on view to shine.
One exception was Scotland Under-21 star Lewis Morgan, who is expected to sign for Premiership leaders Celtic in the January window.
His close control and intelligence was apparent throughout and he also proved, for the 13th time this season, that he can finish. Ian McShane attempted to pick out lone striker Danny Mullen with a cross from the right. The latter failed to make contact but Morgan was first to react to the loose ball and he drilled it, left-footed behind David Gaston from six yards.
Morton, though, had opportunities of their own. Jai Quitongo’s pace allowed him to reach a clearance from Gaston before Jack Baird’s shot cleared the crossbar. Similarly, when Gary Oliver cut the ball back for Michael Tidser, the midfielder also failed to hit the target.
The home side’s Robert Thomson collected a caution for simulation when his dive was correctly identified as such by referee Kevin Clancy. Gary Harkins, on his 33rd birthday, also had his name taken for a rash challenge on Baird.
Further indiscipline arose when Kyle Magennis was booked for a petulant kick at Tidser, provoking a flare-up which resulted in the home side’s Michael Doyle and Saints’ Stephen McGinn also having their names taken.
Substitute Gavin Reilly then manufactured an opening for himself with a serpentine run but Gaston’s save denied him a 20th goal for the visitors.
It also set up a frantic finale and allowed centre-back Thomas O’Ware to salvage a point for the hosts with a firm header from Scott Tiffoney’s corner.
Quitongo and home substitute Bob McHugh had penalty claims rejected by Clancy in the dying seconds but Morton could not find a winner. “I thought Morton were good in that second half,” said Saints manager Jack Ross.
“They put us under pressure and I wasn’t sure how much of an impact the fact we played on Friday while Morton’s game at the weekend was off would have.
“Maybe we were a little leggy after the first half but we were really good before that and our performance reflected where we think we are as a group.
“So I’m a little bit frustrated that we didn’t press home the advantage we had during that period and, on the flip side, I’m disappointed that we got until ten minutes to go before we conceded such a soft goal.”
His opposite number, Jim Duffy, had his own frustrations. “I thought we had more than one strong shout for a penalty but the referee sees it how he sees it,” he said. “I didn’t think he had his best match this afternoon.”