Ryan Harding recalls Morton giantkilling at Easter Road against Hibs

Ryan Harding scores the winner for Morton in the dying moments
Ryan Harding scores the winner for Morton in the dying moments
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Despite that 6-1 mauling at Ibrox Hibs will go into Saturday’s Betfred Cup clash against Morton as firm favourites - just as they did 11 years ago the last time these two sides met in the competition.

But on a crazy night of cup football, the Cappielow outfit upset the odds in a seven-goal thriller, won by the underdogs in true “Roy of the Rovers” style, the upset clinched by former Hibs kid Ryan Harding in his first and only match at Easter Road.

“It was a shot to nothing for us to be honest,” confessed Harding, now a coach at Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale. “Morton had been up and down a bit although I think Mixu Paatelainen, who was manager of Hibs at the time, was under a bit of pressure.

“But I don’t think anyone fancied us, a Championship side playing away to a team in the Premieship. If I am brutally honest, we took a bit of a doing and we could have been 3-0 down by half-time.”

Instead, Iain Russell had Morton a goal up by that point, their advantage doubled by Steven Masterton mid-way through the second half.

And that’s how it remained going into the final ten minutes, Joe Keenan pulling one back before Dean Shiels equalised to send the tie into extra-time.

Harding said: “Two up and with ten minutes to go you are thinking ‘job done’. But if you give a Premiership team, with the quality they had, chances you’ll get punished and that’s what happened.”

It looked all over for Morton when Steve Pinau put Hibs ahead in the first minute of extra-time but Russell hauled Morton level before a blunder by substitute goalkeeper David Grof left Harding a simple tap-in with only two minutes left on the clock.

“I’d love to tell you it was a 30-yard screamer but it was a free-kick which you’d expect the goalkeeper to gather but he spilled it at my feet only three yards out. The free-kick was soft, probably not even a foul but, having said that, a lot needed to happen before it ended up in the net.

“We’d been left devastated when we went from 2-0 up to 3-2 down so I can only imagine how the Hibs players felt at that moment. After being released by Hibs, going back not only to knock them out of the cup but to score the winner, our manager Davie Irons said to me ‘there’s your revenge’. But I never thought of it that way.

“I’m actually a Hearts fan and had the choice of both clubs but opted for Hibs because of Donald Park and the track record he had - Steven Whittaker and Kevin Thomson were in my age group, Derek Riordan and Garry O’Connor were the year ahead and Scott Brown the year below.”

Now, believes Harding, today’s Morton side are in a similar “shot to nothing” position. He said: “Morton had a good win over Alloa at the weekend which will have given them a bit of confidence - it’s always good to be going into this sort of game on the back of a win.

“Hibs will be looking to get on the front foot looking to bounce back from what happened at Ibrox and Morton are the undoubted underdogs. But if they can get an early goal that might unsettle the home fans a bit and put a bit of pressure on the Hibs players.”