A very impressive display from Motherwell easily dealt with the potential challenge of Morton, taking them to the top of Group F and favourites to move into the next round of the Betfred Cup.
Although the Greenock side had an impressive campaign last season there was little chance of the Cappielow side repeating their cup win over Motherwell two years ago – especially after the Fir Park men opened the scoring in the opening minutes.
There were two changes from the side which kicked off the Betfred Cup campaign at Hampden. Ryan Bowman was rewarded for last week’s double with a start in the home attack and Charles Dunne made his debut at the expense of Stevie Hammell.
And the former Oldham defender took less than three minutes to mark his first appearance in a ‘Well jersey to claim his first goal.
The opportunity to grab an early opener looked to have been lost when Trevor Carson’s long ball over the Morton defence released Craig Tanner but one-on-one with the ‘keeper, his effort was blocked by Derek Gaston.
From the resultant corner Tanner picked out Carl McHugh whose floated header towards goal was nodded over the line by Dunne for the perfect start.
Ten minutes later, Tanner’s corner was again met by McHugh but this time he powered his diving header just over the bar.
Carson, whose distribution with either foot seems a real bonus, claimed another assist when the Steelmen doubled their lead after 25 minutes.
The ‘keeper’s free kick from well beyond his box, was glanced on by Bowman and when Tanner slipped the ball through to Cadden, the young midfielder confidently angled his drive across the ‘keeper for his second goal of the campaign.
Ryan Bowman almost made it three when he hooked Richard Tait’s cross narrowly wide of goal.
Morton’s hopes of a fightback were hampered seven minutes from half-time when the experienced Gary Harkins was shown a red card for a high and dangerous tackle on Tanner.
In the minutes before the interval, Bowman had a couple of chances to extend the home lead. Firstly, Michael Doyle’s short pass back sent the ‘Well striker towards goal but Gaston raced out of his box to make a great blocking tackle.
Then Dunne’s incisive pass allowed Bowman to turn at the edge of the box and his low shot was sneaking inside the post until the ‘keeper leapt low to palm it away.
Comfortably in command at the interval, Motherwell used their extra man in the second half to move the ball around the final third and keep Morton penned deep in their own half.
Following a couple of chances, including a crisply struck 22-yard effort from the hugely influential Gael Bigirimana, the Fir Parkers finally made it three nil after 66 minutes.
Carl McHugh’s intelligent chipped effort from 25 yards rebounded from the face of the crossbar and Richard Tait reacted quickly to squeeze the ball between the keeper and his right-hand post.
That also signalled a double substitution with strikers Louis Moult and Alex Fisher intent of giving the overworked Morton defence a difficult final 20 minutes.
Still to regain full fitness Moult took only six minutes to mark his appearance from the bench with another superb free kick curling the ball from the corner of the box beyond Gaston’s despairing dive.
Andy Rose replaced Tait and he came close to making it five, but slid Dunne’s pass on the wrong side of the post.
The best chance to go nap for the second consecutive week fell to Moult but having pounced on Bobby Thomson’s slack pass back the ‘Well striker rattled the ball off the advancing ‘keeper, with Bigirimana doing exactly the same with the rebound.
Motherwell now travel to the capital on Tuesday evening knowing that a win over Edinburgh City will guarantee them top spot in the section.
tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
The Steelmen ease past 10-man Morton and now top Group F.
FT: Motherwell 4 – 0 Greenock Morton
88′ | 4-0
Morton sub, Armour on for Russell
83′ | 4-0
Should have been 5! Back pass is too short which lets Moult in but Gaston makes a fine double save from Moult then Bigirimana
81′ | 4-0
Dunne clips in a great ball to the back post which Rose knocks just wide of the post.
Changes for Morton as well, Quitongo and Thomson off for McHugh and Strapp
76′ | 4-0
Motherwell sub, Tait off for Rose.
73′ | 4-0
It’s that man Moult again! Curls a beauty over the wall and past Gaston!!
72′ | 3-0
‘Well have a free-kick right on the edge of the box…..
68′ | 3-0
Motherwell subs, Frear and Bowman off for Fisher and Moult
67′ | 3-0
Could feel it coming and there it is! McHugh curls one off the bar and Tait is on hand with a nice finish!
65′ | 2-0
Bigirimana with a rocket from distance but Gaston makes it look comfortable with some safe hands.
63′ | 2-0
Lovely quick bit of passing sets Frear clear down the left. His low cross is met by Bowman but he can’t steer it on target.
53′ | 2-0
Kipré powers a shot from distance but see’s it fly just over the bar
51′ | 2-0
That would have been beautiful. Bigirimana with a Cruyff-flick to Tanner who does the same to Cadden but Gaston saves!
Quitongo gets the second half underway.
HT: Motherwell 2 – 0 Greenock Morton
45+1′ | 2-0
Bowman’s turn and shot from the edge of the box is tipped past for a corner.
43′ | 2-0
Nearly three as Bowman broke clear but again Gaston stands up well and makes the save!
38′ | 2-0
RED CARD! Harkins sent off for a high and late challenge on Tanner.
37′ | 2-0
Cadden gets the break of the ball and bursts forward. Opts for the shot but slices it past the post.
32′ | 2-0
Bigirimana booked for a firm challenge.
27′ | 2-0
Cross into the box finds Bowman who tries the spectacular flying volley. Skews it wide of the post, though.
25′ | 2-0
Bowman’s flick-on is knocked into the path of Tanner who knocks it on to Cadden who cooly slots home past Gaston!
23′ | 1-0
Nice bit of play there between Bigirimana and Tanner but as the ball is fed through to Bowman, he is ruled offside.
12′ | 1-0
Chance! Great corner in from Tanner finds McHugh who attempts a diving header but it goes just over the bar!
10′ | 1-0
Bigirimana with a very speculative free-kick from 35 yards. Well over the bar.
3′ | 1-0
Dunne opens the scoring! McHugh flicks on a corner and the debutant heads home from close!!
2′ | 0-0
Great chance! Carson’s ball over the top leaves Tanner 1v1 but Gaston stands up and makes a good stop!
Tanner gets the action underway. COYW!!!!!
Out come the sides, kick-off fast approaching. COYW!!
Motherwell caretaker manager Stephen Robinson:
Greenock Morton manager Jim Duffy