Partick Thistle's unbeaten start came to a halt at Cappielow yesterday, with Morton showing their title intentions as they made it five wins on the bounce in the Irn-Bru First Division.
It is, of course, too early for any of the promotion protagonists to get too excited about what may lie ahead but, as Dunfermline assumed the ascendency, the coming months look set to make for enticing viewing in Scotland's second tier. "Last season, I brought in sprinters, this year I have brought in long-distance runners," said Allan Moore, the Morton manager. "Thistle will be disappointed to lose their unbeaten record, but it is not about where you are at this stage of the season, it is where you are with three, four games to go. We hope, if we keep the squad fit, we will be up there."
While it has been Thistle's attacking nous that has shone through in the opening weeks, their defensive resolve has also been crucial, with captain Alan Archibald and summer recruit Aaron Muirhead quickly forming an impressive partnership, yet two uncharacteristic lapses gave Morton the impetus for victory.
It was Morton's central defensive pair who would profit from Thistle's slackness, with Kevin Rutkiewicz and Mark McLaughlin both connecting with Michael Tidser corners to head home and hand their team a narrow edge at the break.
In between, Thistle had equalised, courtesy of Steven Craig as he collected Aaron Muirhead's long throw from the right flank and finished well beyond Gaston to mark his return to the team with aplomb. The second half started in the same frenetic fashion. Just 10 minutes in, Thistle's chances appeared slim as they were reduced to 10 men when Hugh Murray – already on a booking – saw red for a challenge on Stephen Stirling. Roache was soon the focus of attention again, waving away Thistle penalty claims after McLaughlin appeared to slice the ball on to his hand inside the area.
After Campbell spurned a glorious chance to make it 3-1, failing to round keeper Scott Fox when clean through, David O'Brien finally clinched the win, collecting Martin Hardie's through ball and curling beyond the Thistle goalie
"Dunfermline not winning is no consolation," Thistle boss Jackie McNamara said. "It is about us and what we do. It is only eight games in, we have not even finished the first quarter yet."