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1st Quarter Review


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#1 Admin

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 01:51 PM

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After the drama of last season's opening quarter, and last season as a whole if we're being honest, you could've been forgiven for thinking we might be in for a let down if we were looking for incident at Cappielow this time around- not a bit of it.
 
With a pretty rancid season ending on an unexpected high on the final day with the double whammy of the hapless Jonatan Johansson and Peter Houston resigning in a fit of rage and Falkirk's extremely unfortunate relegation giving the support the ultimate Shadenfreude moment, focus immediately turned to who would replace the Finnish flop.
 
In reality, there was only really one candidate. With costs being cut across the board after the previous season's speculate to accumulate approach didn't go to plan, the board needed someone who they felt could negotiate the division on a shoestring- with David Hopkin being a fan, former player and shareholder with a previous track record of taking a club with even more financial constraints than ourselves into the promised land of the Premiership, he was handed a three year deal, and added Assistant Manager Anthony McElhone and Goalkeeping Coach and Scout Dave Timmins, who replaced the long serving David Wylie, to his backroom staff.
 
Another positive was the resignation of CEO Warren Hawke, whose tenure was riddled with controversy and poor decision making, be it signing off the investment in expensive white elephant turnstiles, antagonising fans and staff and being cited by relegated Falkirk Manager Ray McKinnon as one of the main reasons he swapped Cappielow for a fruitless attempt at remaining in the Championship. Hawke was replaced by former Dundee Chief Executive Dave McKinnon, who set about trying to build some bridges with the support.
 
With the first friendly at Forfar scheduled for the start of July, and Morton's participation in the Betfred Cup starting a week and a half later, the now annual plethora of new players came in. Some signings excited- the returning Aidan Nesbitt and winger Nicky Cadden have been standouts, whilst Hopkin's successful attempts to persuade Development Coach John Sutton to come out of retirement has been a wise move, but the biggest concern has been the assembly of Hopkin's defence.
 
We quickly saw Ryan McGeever, previously of twice relegated Brechin come and go after deciding that part time football was more his thing when an offer from Dumbarton came along, and Livingston defender Henk van Shaik did likewise after actually getting a deal. How much that ended up costing the club is anyone's guess- we're probably better not knowing.
 
Many of the signings have been underwhelming, but given the well publicised budget cuts, that was to be expected. Timmins contacts in England saw goalkeeper Sam Ramsbottom and Cameron Salkeld come in, along with Scottish lower league journeymen Brian McLean, Kalvin Orsi and Robbie Muirhead. Kyle Jacobs from Queen of the South and former Falkirk defender Peter Grant were signings with a bit more pedigree, in spite of Grant's injury record.
 
On the departures front, many of the previous season's squad decided to prioritise their bank balance ahead of any football ambitions by dropping down to League One with last season's Championship whipping boys Falkirk, and Hopkin allowed his only recognised right back, Reghan Tumilty to go to Dumbarton on loan. Fans' favourite Dylan Dykes went to stink out Stenhousemuir's midfield for a year.
 
After pre-season defeats at Forfar and at home to St. Johnstone, the Betfred group stages kicked off with an emphatic 6-1 rout of Dumbarton. It was nice to see a club even less prepared for the season than we felt we were. Morton were quickly brought down to earth by a Friday night TV hammering at Fir Park, but Queen of the South's failure to beat local rivals Annan in 90 minutes at home the following day proved to be the pivotal result that saw us claim a firm grip on second place in the group. Morton's hopes of going through as one of the best second placed teams were boosted by a resounding 5-0 win at Galabank and they went into the final game at home to Queen of the South knowing victory would've guaranteed progression. Morton, however let a 3-1 lead slip to draw 3-3, with a poor mistake from Ramsbottom leading to the equaliser. The keeper was later subjected to sarcastic applause from the Cowshed after collecting a cross, but he was to be celebrating later as his penalty save in the shoot out took us through as one of the best runners up.
 
The loan market was, as ever, a route Morton went down, with midfielder Cameron Blues, who had been part of the Berwick team that was emptied from the SPFL in May after a disaster of a season, came in from Livingston alongside the previously mentioned Van Shiak, Celtic defender Stephen Welsh and lesser-spotted Morthewell full back Adam Livingstone. With the departure of Brendan Pearson, Hopkin brought in Danny Rodgers to compete with Ramsbotton for the number one jersey. Most bizarrely, on deadline day, after an evening of Morton trolling us into thinking we were bringing in former Scotland defender Kirk Broadfoot, we ended up with the only St. Mirren player in the last twenty years to have had an absolute howler in a Renfrewshire derby, Jack Baird. Even then, there were doubts about the signing as we apparently had our full compliment of four loanees. Those fears were negated though by the club making Blues' deal a permanent one. Cheers, Hoppy!
 
An injury hit Morton started the league campaign against Ayr at Somerset Park and were given a harsh reality check as their hosts stormed into a three goal lead before a spirited effort brought us back to 3-2 with ten minutes to go before conceding in injury time. In all honesty, if we'd have got out of it with a draw it would've been scarcely deserved. The following week however produced probably Morton's best performance of the season, as last term's bogey team Alloa were resoundingly put to the sword thanks to a hat trick from Bob McHugh and a sensational Reece Lyon goal from a counter attack. McHugh could consider himself fortunate to be awarded his second goal after a push on the defender as he headed home, but we'll gloss over that one.
 
It was onwards to Easter Road for the last sixteen tie in the Betfred Cup for what proved to be a thriller as Morton came from 0-2 and 2-3 down to equalise deep into injury time and force extra time, with the help of a couple of own goals from Hibs' experienced defenders Lewis Stevenson and Stephen Whittaker. Extra time was to prove a bridge too far though, as goals at the end of each period saw Morton undone. Although questions have to be asked about firstly debutant Danny Rodgers' contibuion for Hibs' third goal and the referee's refusal to award a free kick for a foul on Cameron Salkeld in the build up to the fourth, although Jim McAlister hardly covered himself in glory.
 
Then followed a two Friday night TV games, with contrasting fortunes. First up was Partick at Cappielow, and after deservedly trailing 2-0 with 20 minutes to go, Morton unexpectedly burst into life with goals from Cadden Sutton and McLean in an 8 minute period to send the Cowshed into raptures and leave Tarquin choking on his Belhaven Best and Manpreet on his Buckfast. A quite magnificent night. The less said about the 0-5 rout the following week at Inverness, which included a missed Nicky Cadden penalty the better. An absolute rout by a team that weren't even that good isn't what you're after. The only positive that can really be taken from it was that it coincided with the Dundee derby on the other channel so not too many neutrals got the opportunity to watch us getting ripped apart.
 
It was back up the A9 the following week for the first round of the newly named Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Cup, and a shadow team fell to a predictably insipid defeat against a weakened Inverness side, with another Ramsbottom howler and penalty save featuring. Insipid away defeats were becoming the norm, with Morton falling 1-0 to Queen of the South thanks to an early Fassil El Bakhtaoui goal. Morton huffed and puffed without really threatening until Robbie McCrorie brilliantly clawed away Nicky Cadden's free kick.
 
That defeat was doubly disappointing with tough games against the two clubs tipped by most observers to be challenging for the title approaching, but Morton upset the odds to beat Dundee 1-0 at Cappielow thanks to a Peter Grant header just on half time. In spite of their possession, Dundee didn't really threaten and we were well worth our victory. If we were all pleased with ourselves after that game though, we were brought straight back down to earth with a resounding thud the following week at Tannadice. One down after a minute, two down after five, it's almost as if nobody told them that Dundee United had the most prolific goalscorer in the land, who has a bit of a habit of scoring against us anyway. Of the criminal decisions that were made that day, leaving Shankland completely unmarked at the back post in the first minute, Rodgers going for a pie in the lead up to the third and Baird rolling out the red carpet for Shankland to complete his hat trick were this observer's particular favourites.
 
Morton were unfortunate not to recover with three points against Dunfermline the following week, but ended up happy with a point. It looked like Cameron Salkeld's late goal would be enough for a 1-0 win before being inexplicably disallowed before we were hit with an even later sucker punch from Andy Ryan after the restored Ramsbottom spilled a tame shot to present the chance on a plate to the Pars' striker. However, a spirited rally lead to a 94th minute Jim McAlister equaliser and relief all round. Hard to believe that Morton are unbeaten at home in competitive action now for six months.
 
So on Saturday it was onwards to newly promoted Arbroath. Guess what? It was insipid, and we lost, and against a bang average team. That said, they were well worth their win, after dominating for long periods, especially in the first half. Morton can point to Jacobs hitting the post, a bad miss from Grant and Strapp's late header being ruled out for an extremely doubtful offside, but let's not hide away from it- they were rotten and Arbroath's late goal was little surprise.
 
What the second quarter and beyond will bring is anyone's guess, but there have to be massive concerns going forward. The defence is in major need of surgery in January, and the lack of a natural right back is a glaring problem. Strapp's been very good, the central defenders not so. McLean's not got much left to offer at this level, Grant's unconvincing and after a decent start, Baird has been dreadful. He's appearing more and more like the laughing stock we waved off the Cappielow pitch on that lovely sunny day two years ago. Welsh simply isn't a right back. What's happened to Adam Livingstone? Is he dead? Both goalkeepers have had their mistakes, costing us goals in almost every game. You can't help but feel sorry for Ramsbottom, who undid his good work against Dunfermline by gifting them their late goal at Cappielow the other week, but you have to question why Rodgers was seen as a better option than bringing in Jamie MacDonald from Kilmarnock, who later signed for Alloa. Hindsight's a wonderful thing.
 
The aging Millar and McAlister in midfield are struggling more and more by the week, and Hopkin's insistence on playing Blues is grating with a lot of the support, especially at the expense of Reece Lyon on Saturday. Luca Colville has had an up and down time so far, whilst Salkeld's opportunities have been restricted. Nesbitt's hand injury weakened us for the period he was out and it's concerning that Cadden is also likely to face a lengthy spell on the sidelines after pulling his hamstring on Saturday.
 
The goals have dried up from earlier on in the season, and it's no coincidence that that's correlated with an alarming run of results. Launching high balls up to a 35 year old striker with nobody playing off him isn't going to fix that particular problem though.
 
With two games this week against teams who will be fancying their chances of collecting points at Cappielow, it'll be interesting to see if it is indeed a fortress against sides that annihilated us a few short months ago. If not, the next realistic sources of points are a good few weeks down the line against a Partick team that have already shown signs of improvement or and Arbroath team who convincingly disposed of Morton the other day.
 
What is for certain is that the honeymoon period is over and if the problems that we've encountered, much of which have been of our own making, aren't addressed, we're in for a long, hard season; and probably a relegation battle.

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#2 BishopLenBrennan

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 02:55 PM

Digs at Falkirk, Hawke and Manpreet? Excellent writing. 


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You address me by my proper title, you little bollocks! 


#3 capitanus

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 04:30 PM

Yes, thanks for that. Feel free to hit the refresh button a few times at some point. :D


One thing it doesn't seek to address:

Does Hoopy need a new record player??
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#4 vikingTON

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 11:32 AM

 

After the drama of last season's opening quarter, and last season as a whole if we're being honest, you could've been forgiven for thinking we might be in for a let down if we were looking for incident at Cappielow this time around- not a bit of it.
 
With a pretty rancid season ending on an unexpected high on the final day with the double whammy of the hapless Jonatan Johansson and Peter Houston resigning in a fit of rage and Falkirk's extremely unfortunate relegation giving the support the ultimate Shadenfreude moment, focus immediately turned to who would replace the Finnish flop.
 
In reality, there was only really one candidate. With costs being cut across the board after the previous season's speculate to accumulate approach didn't go to plan, the board needed someone who they felt could negotiate the division on a shoestring- with David Hopkin being a fan, former player and shareholder with a previous track record of taking a club with even more financial constraints than ourselves into the promised land of the Premiership, he was handed a three year deal, and added Assistant Manager Anthony McElhone and Goalkeeping Coach and Scout Dave Timmins, who replaced the long serving David Wylie, to his backroom staff.
 
Another positive was the resignation of CEO Warren Hawke, whose tenure was riddled with controversy and poor decision making, be it signing off the investment in expensive white elephant turnstiles, antagonising fans and staff and being cited by relegated Falkirk Manager Ray McKinnon as one of the main reasons he swapped Cappielow for a fruitless attempt at remaining in the Championship. Hawke was replaced by former Dundee Chief Executive Dave McKinnon, who set about trying to build some bridges with the support.
 
With the first friendly at Forfar scheduled for the start of July, and Morton's participation in the Betfred Cup starting a week and a half later, the now annual plethora of new players came in. Some signings excited- the returning Aidan Nesbitt and winger Nicky Cadden have been standouts, whilst Hopkin's successful attempts to persuade Development Coach John Sutton to come out of retirement has been a wise move, but the biggest concern has been the assembly of Hopkin's defence.
 
We quickly saw Ryan McGeever, previously of twice relegated Brechin come and go after deciding that part time football was more his thing when an offer from Dumbarton came along, and Livingston defender Henk van Shaik did likewise after actually getting a deal. How much that ended up costing the club is anyone's guess- we're probably better not knowing.
 
Many of the signings have been underwhelming, but given the well publicised budget cuts, that was to be expected. Timmins contacts in England saw goalkeeper Sam Ramsbottom and Cameron Salkeld come in, along with Scottish lower league journeymen Brian McLean, Kalvin Orsi and Robbie Muirhead. Kyle Jacobs from Queen of the South and former Falkirk defender Peter Grant were signings with a bit more pedigree, in spite of Grant's injury record.
 
On the departures front, many of the previous season's squad decided to prioritise their bank balance ahead of any football ambitions by dropping down to League One with last season's Championship whipping boys Falkirk, and Hopkin allowed his only recognised right back, Reghan Tumilty to go to Dumbarton on loan. Fans' favourite Dylan Dykes went to stink out Stenhousemuir's midfield for a year.
 
After pre-season defeats at Forfar and at home to St. Johnstone, the Betfred group stages kicked off with an emphatic 6-1 rout of Dumbarton. It was nice to see a club even less prepared for the season than we felt we were. Morton were quickly brought down to earth by a Friday night TV hammering at Fir Park, but Queen of the South's failure to beat local rivals Annan in 90 minutes at home the following day proved to be the pivotal result that saw us claim a firm grip on second place in the group. Morton's hopes of going through as one of the best second placed teams were boosted by a resounding 5-0 win at Galabank and they went into the final game at home to Queen of the South knowing victory would've guaranteed progression. Morton, however let a 3-1 lead slip to draw 3-3, with a poor mistake from Ramsbottom leading to the equaliser. The keeper was later subjected to sarcastic applause from the Cowshed after collecting a cross, but he was to be celebrating later as his penalty save in the shoot out took us through as one of the best runners up.
 
The loan market was, as ever, a route Morton went down, with midfielder Cameron Blues, who had been part of the Berwick team that was emptied from the SPFL in May after a disaster of a season, came in from Livingston alongside the previously mentioned Van Shiak, Celtic defender Stephen Welsh and lesser-spotted Morthewell full back Adam Livingstone. With the departure of Brendan Pearson, Hopkin brought in Danny Rodgers to compete with Ramsbotton for the number one jersey. Most bizarrely, on deadline day, after an evening of Morton trolling us into thinking we were bringing in former Scotland defender Kirk Broadfoot, we ended up with the only St. Mirren player in the last twenty years to have had an absolute howler in a Renfrewshire derby, Jack Baird. Even then, there were doubts about the signing as we apparently had our full compliment of four loanees. Those fears were negated though by the club making Blues' deal a permanent one. Cheers, Hoppy!
 
An injury hit Morton started the league campaign against Ayr at Somerset Park and were given a harsh reality check as their hosts stormed into a three goal lead before a spirited effort brought us back to 3-2 with ten minutes to go before conceding in injury time. In all honesty, if we'd have got out of it with a draw it would've been scarcely deserved. The following week however produced probably Morton's best performance of the season, as last term's bogey team Alloa were resoundingly put to the sword thanks to a hat trick from Bob McHugh and a sensational Reece Lyon goal from a counter attack. McHugh could consider himself fortunate to be awarded his second goal after a push on the defender as he headed home, but we'll gloss over that one.
 
It was onwards to Easter Road for the last sixteen tie in the Betfred Cup for what proved to be a thriller as Morton came from 0-2 and 2-3 down to equalise deep into injury time and force extra time, with the help of a couple of own goals from Hibs' experienced defenders Lewis Stevenson and Stephen Whittaker. Extra time was to prove a bridge too far though, as goals at the end of each period saw Morton undone. Although questions have to be asked about firstly debutant Danny Rodgers' contibuion for Hibs' third goal and the referee's refusal to award a free kick for a foul on Cameron Salkeld in the build up to the fourth, although Jim McAlister hardly covered himself in glory.
 
Then followed a two Friday night TV games, with contrasting fortunes. First up was Partick at Cappielow, and after deservedly trailing 2-0 with 20 minutes to go, Morton unexpectedly burst into life with goals from Cadden Sutton and McLean in an 8 minute period to send the Cowshed into raptures and leave Tarquin choking on his Belhaven Best and Manpreet on his Buckfast. A quite magnificent night. The less said about the 0-5 rout the following week at Inverness, which included a missed Nicky Cadden penalty the better. An absolute rout by a team that weren't even that good isn't what you're after. The only positive that can really be taken from it was that it coincided with the Dundee derby on the other channel so not too many neutrals got the opportunity to watch us getting ripped apart.
 
It was back up the A9 the following week for the first round of the newly named Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Cup, and a shadow team fell to a predictably insipid defeat against a weakened Inverness side, with another Ramsbottom howler and penalty save featuring. Insipid away defeats were becoming the norm, with Morton falling 1-0 to Queen of the South thanks to an early Fassil El Bakhtaoui goal. Morton huffed and puffed without really threatening until Robbie McCrorie brilliantly clawed away Nicky Cadden's free kick.
 
That defeat was doubly disappointing with tough games against the two clubs tipped by most observers to be challenging for the title approaching, but Morton upset the odds to beat Dundee 1-0 at Cappielow thanks to a Peter Grant header just on half time. In spite of their possession, Dundee didn't really threaten and we were well worth our victory. If we were all pleased with ourselves after that game though, we were brought straight back down to earth with a resounding thud the following week at Tannadice. One down after a minute, two down after five, it's almost as if nobody told them that Dundee United had the most prolific goalscorer in the land, who has a bit of a habit of scoring against us anyway. Of the criminal decisions that were made that day, leaving Shankland completely unmarked at the back post in the first minute, Rodgers going for a pie in the lead up to the third and Baird rolling out the red carpet for Shankland to complete his hat trick were this observer's particular favourites.
 
Morton were unfortunate not to recover with three points against Dunfermline the following week, but ended up happy with a point. It looked like Cameron Salkeld's late goal would be enough for a 1-0 win before being inexplicably disallowed before we were hit with an even later sucker punch from Andy Ryan after the restored Ramsbottom spilled a tame shot to present the chance on a plate to the Pars' striker. However, a spirited rally lead to a 94th minute Jim McAlister equaliser and relief all round. Hard to believe that Morton are unbeaten at home in competitive action now for six months.
 
So on Saturday it was onwards to newly promoted Arbroath. Guess what? It was insipid, and we lost, and against a bang average team. That said, they were well worth their win, after dominating for long periods, especially in the first half. Morton can point to Jacobs hitting the post, a bad miss from Grant and Strapp's late header being ruled out for an extremely doubtful offside, but let's not hide away from it- they were rotten and Arbroath's late goal was little surprise.
 
What the second quarter and beyond will bring is anyone's guess, but there have to be massive concerns going forward. The defence is in major need of surgery in January, and the lack of a natural right back is a glaring problem. Strapp's been very good, the central defenders not so. McLean's not got much left to offer at this level, Grant's unconvincing and after a decent start, Baird has been dreadful. He's appearing more and more like the laughing stock we waved off the Cappielow pitch on that lovely sunny day two years ago. Welsh simply isn't a right back. What's happened to Adam Livingstone? Is he dead? Both goalkeepers have had their mistakes, costing us goals in almost every game. You can't help but feel sorry for Ramsbottom, who undid his good work against Dunfermline by gifting them their late goal at Cappielow the other week, but you have to question why Rodgers was seen as a better option than bringing in Jamie MacDonald from Kilmarnock, who later signed for Alloa. Hindsight's a wonderful thing.
 
The aging Millar and McAlister in midfield are struggling more and more by the week, and Hopkin's insistence on playing Blues is grating with a lot of the support, especially at the expense of Reece Lyon on Saturday. Luca Colville has had an up and down time so far, whilst Salkeld's opportunities have been restricted. Nesbitt's hand injury weakened us for the period he was out and it's concerning that Cadden is also likely to face a lengthy spell on the sidelines after pulling his hamstring on Saturday.
 
The goals have dried up from earlier on in the season, and it's no coincidence that that's correlated with an alarming run of results. Launching high balls up to a 35 year old striker with nobody playing off him isn't going to fix that particular problem though.
 
With two games this week against teams who will be fancying their chances of collecting points at Cappielow, it'll be interesting to see if it is indeed a fortress against sides that annihilated us a few short months ago. If not, the next realistic sources of points are a good few weeks down the line against a Partick team that have already shown signs of improvement or and Arbroath team who convincingly disposed of Morton the other day.
 
What is for certain is that the honeymoon period is over and if the problems that we've encountered, much of which have been of our own making, aren't addressed, we're in for a long, hard season; and probably a relegation battle.

 

 

Too long, didn't read. 


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The site is supposed to be a place for the extended 'family' of Morton supporters - having an affinity with people that you don't know, because you share a love of your local football club. It's not supposed to be about point scoring and showing how 'clever' or 'funny' you are, or just being downright rude and offensive to people you don't know, because you can get away with it. Unfortunately, it seems the classic case of people who have little standing/presence in real life, use this forum as a way of making themselves feel as if they are something. It's sad, and I've said that before..

So, having been on Morton forums for about 15 years I guess, I've had enough... well done t*ssers, another Morton supporter driven away. You can all feel happy at how 'clever' you are


#5 capitanus

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 12:20 PM

Too long, didn't read.


Do you agree with 'Quickdraw' and all of those cowshed bangers?

Does Hoopy need a new record player?
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#6 steveoath

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 10:09 AM

All that was needed was:

First quarter review. We're fukcing sh1te.

Edited by steveoath, 26 October 2019 - 10:09 AM.

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