IT is always nice to see your nearest neighbours doing well at this time of year, although perhaps not too well. So it was for Morton yesterday, as they sent their Championship-leading first footers St Mirren off into 2018 with all of the usual best wishes.

As much as the Paisley side had looked like building on Friday night’s victory against Dundee United at the top of Scotland’s second tier during a dominant first-half display at Cappielow, Jim Duffy’s men had succeeded in bringing them down a peg or two by the end of the second period.

A Tam O’Ware header with ten minutes remaining, which cancelled out a first-half Lewis Morgan strike, meant both these combatants in the Renfrewshire grudge match had something to cling to from this one. While St Mirren saw their lead on Dundee United cut to three points – the Tannadice side also have a game in hand – like neighbours peering over the picket fence, Morton at least had the consolation of edging the match-up with their Renfrewshire rivals with a win and two draws this season.

As the away supporters congregated in the uncovered Wee Dublin End, with nothing to protect them from what at times was a biblical downpour, they knew they were assured of a warm welcome at the home of their Renfrewshire rivals, where they had gone down 4-1 win back in August.

All eyes pre-match were on Lewis Morgan, the 21-year-old winger – a native of Inverclyde – who is widely expected to move to Celtic for a fee thought to be around the £300,000 mark which would allow him to see out the season at St Mirren. He didn’t disappoint. Blessed with excellent pace and balance, the winger milked the moment to the full as he opened the scoring with his 13th of a prolific season. There was no pressure on the cross as Ian McShane levered the ball into the middle, and while Michael Doyle cleared the ball under the attentions of Danny Mullen, Morgan reacted sharpest in the box to steer in a close range left foot finish. The game might have been pretty much safe there and then had Mullen, recruited on an emergency loan from Livingston and preferred to the returning Gavin Reilly up front, found the net rather than strike the foot of a post from an acute angle.

Morgan’s goal didn’t prove the winner but once again Jack Ross heaped praise on the winger, a player whose future should become clearer in the next seven days. “There probably was a little period when his form dipped,” said Ross. “But I think once he has had a clearer picture in his head about what he was going to do he has been terrific. There will be clarity on his future I would expect this week, all being well. The big thing for me is that he is coming back. That is all I am really bothered about.

“In fairness, Morton were good in that second half,” he added. “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 had. Maybe we were a little leggy but our performance reflected where we think we are as a group.”

By contrast to the enthusiasm of the visitors, Morton had initially appeared short of belief but they warmed to the task. The offside flag wasn’t always their friend when they looked to play off long cross-field passes to Robert Thomson, but one flick from the former Dumbarton man found Gary Oliver, whose cutback was perfect for the onrushing Michael Tidser. The midfielder is a better footballer than his wasteful high finish would suggest.

The home side were far better as they chased the game after the break, even if their efforts weren’t helped by an inconsistent display from referee Kevin Clancy, who often seemed to be facilitating foul play rather than preventing it. This was becoming a tousy affair: Stelios Demetriou had an obstacle thrown in his direction, then a Kyle Magennis tackle on Morton substitute Scott Tiffoney led to a shoving match which saw Michael Doyle and Steven McGinn booked. Tiffoney brought a freshness to Morton’s play and the goal was fully deserved Tam OWare, a frequent scorer last season, guided a downward header from the winger’s deep corner kick in at the far post. Both teams might have won it – Thomson somehow couldn’t touch in a low Tiffoney cross at one end, then Mark Russell produced a fine saving tackle to defy Reilly – but in the final reckoning this might not be the worst point St Mirren have ever come away with.

“They came out flying and full of confidence so we had to roll our sleeves up and make sure we stayed in the game and we did that,” said Duffy, whose side stay fifth. “But we could have nicked the win at the end because we were the team on the front foot by then. We had more than one strong shout for a penalty but the referee sees it how he sees it. I didn’t think he had his best match but it’s not about criticising him.”