MORTON are just five games away from completing a full year unbeaten at Cappielow in the Championship and they are rapidly emerging as the team to avoid if and when they reach the play-offs.

Even a depleted side cobbled together by Jim Duffy had the strength and determination to fend off the spirited effort from Dumbarton, who probably deserved a point for their efforts.

The loss of influential defender Gavin Gunning to Grimsby Town last week, coupled with a lengthy lay-off for star striker Jai Quitongo meant they were always going to be stretched A hamstring injury after just ten minutes to striker Kudus Oyenuga left Morton with the 'smallest strikeforce in the history of the Championship', according to Duffy with Aidan Nesbitt and Joe Scullion leading the attacking line.

But it was effective with Nesbitt involved heavily in both of their goals, although the real driving force behind Morton, as it has been for most of the season, was the excellent Ross Forbes, with the ex-Motherwell man running the show.

The on loan Celtic youngster won plenty of praise from Duffy after the game, after his driven cross was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Gregor Buchanan for the opener, before he was adjudged to have been tripped by Darren Barr for a second half penalty, which was converted by Michael Tidser.

It's been a steady learning curve for Nesbitt, who is highly regarded at Parkhead. Operating in that unusual attacking role, he's had to bide his time to make an impact in Greenock. But he showed signs on Saturday he's maturing both physically and mentally and the Scotland Under 21 starlet, who had a similar loan spell at Partick Thistle last season, believes he has grown as a player under Duffy.

He said: "The manager helps massively. He knows we’ll all work for him. He pushes us to do our jobs but he knows we will. You can see his passion and it rubs off on us with the work ethic that we have. It comes from him.

"It was a different kind of shift for me. I’m not used to playing in that number nine role. We had a few injuries up front and the manager's asked me to fill in. I scored a goal and won a penalty so I think I was effective enough. I was really feeling it at the end because it’s a different kind of running you have to do up front. You have to chase a lot of lost causes. You need to work hard for the team. I feel like I won a lot challenges. I was up against a lot of big, strong boys so I had to adapt quickly.

"I feel like I’ve improved here. I was at Partick Thistle for six months last season but I only played eight games. I’ve played regularly at Morton. I think if I’d been asked to play in the number nine position at the start of the season then I’d have struggled a lot more than I did on Saturday. Naturally I’m a number 10 or a winger but my all-round game has developed to the point that I can do that."

And Nesbitt revealed the move to Inverclyde had the blessing of Parkhead manager Rodgers, who has been monitoring his progress.

He said: "The manager there just wanted me to go out and keep progressing. They’re the biggest club in the country and everyone knows the quality of player that Celtic have. I need to play in these games and try as hard as I can to get to that level. That’s where I aspire to be, to play at Celtic Park one day. Celtic have scouts at every single game Jamie Lindsay and I play in. Hopefully we just develop into the players they want us to be."

Morton are now just seven points behind second-placed Dundee United with a game in hand. With that fantastic home record behind them, Nesbitt is convinced catching the Tannadice men is a realistic target.

He said: "We don’t feel as if Dundee United or Hibs have been much better than us any time they’ve come to play us. We feel if we can make the most of the ability, effort and heart that we’ve got that we can do something.

"Hibs are a good side and look – especially after Friday – like they could pull away from the pack. But, with a game in hand, we feel like we can look at Dundee United. I feel like we can go up if we keep playing like we are. We play for each other. We had big players injured. We had to change the team quite a bit drastically, but still walked away with the three points.

"We’ve got a great home record. We’ve not lost at home since I’ve been here. We’ll take anyone at Cappielow!"