Motherwell vs Morton – Match Preview
by Dean McKinnon.
Dougie Imrie will take his new-look Morton side to lock horns with his old foes Motherwell. Imrie, who spent a total of seven seasons at The Steelmen’s rivals Hamilton, has taken seven points from his first three matches in the Sinclair Street dugout. Having taken a point away from promotion candidates Kilmarnock, followed by dismantling Dunfermline 5-0 at Cappielow, Imrie’s side showed their clinical side on Saturday, besting fellow relegation candidates Ayr United 2-0 at Somerset Park last Saturday.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
Morton will boast a full squad to choose from for their trip to Fir Park. Oisin McEntee made the bench last week at Somerset Park after suffering a broken wrist against Arbroath in December. Mark Russell was also fit enough for a place among the substitutes last week following his positive COVID test. Morton will also be prepared for life without Tom Allan, who returned to parent club Newcastle last week.
Veteran centre-back Brian McLean cut his teeth as a senior player at Motherwell. Having signed for Rangers from Queens Park as a youth player, the Rutherglen born defender was sent out on loan to the Steelmen for the 2005/06 campaign. McLean made thirty league appearances, scoring three goals. This was enough to convince McLean to extend his stay in Lanarkshire, who signed a permanent deal ahead of the following season. After a four year stay at Fir Park, making sixty-one appearances in all competitions, McLean moved to Falkirk, who were relegated from the SPL in 2009/10.
Motherwell’s second choice goalkeeper Scott Fox signed for The Ton on an emergency loan last season as the Sinclair Street side navigated their way through the relegation playoffs. With regular goalkeeper Aidan McAdams injuring his hamstring in the semi-final second leg against Montrose, Gus MacPherson brought Fox in for the two legged playoff final against Airdrieonians.
Shotts born defender Ricki Lamie was recruited by Jim Duffy in 2014 as he attempted to return Morton to the second tier at the first time of asking. Lamie, who was once goaded into a red card by Morton stalwart Peter Weatherson whilst representing Airdrie, was deployed at left back in League One and appeared to struggle initially with this new position. His game improved massively as Morton went onto win League One and Lamie matured into a stand out Championship player, equally comfortable in at centre back and left back. He scored his first senior goal in a Hogmanay Renfrewshire Derby, snatching a point for ten man Morton with the last kick of the ball. At the end of the 2017/18 season, and after 132 Morton appearances, news broke that Lamie was joining Premiership side Livingston, leaving with the best wishes of the entire Morton support.
Tale of the Tape
It’s safe to say that Fir Park has not been a happy hunting ground for The Ton in recent years, however Morton ran the home side close on their last visit to The Well in April last year. As expected, Motherwell had more of the ball than their Greenock counterparts, but The Ton held on stubbornly as the match headed to extra time following a ninety minute stalemate in regulation time. Scotland full-back Stephen O’Donnell’s 121st minute strike looked to have stolen the tie for the home side as his deflected strike flew past Aidan McAdams, however the visiting side had other ideas. A Lewis McGrattan corner was met by Marcus Fjortoft, who headed home from close range to send the tie to spot-kicks. Defender Sean McGinty’s tame penalty was saved by Liam Kelly as the Premiership side claimed their place in the Fifth Round.
Morton have only bested their Lanarkshire counterparts on their own patch once, with the Sinclair Street side going on to lift our nation’s showpiece trophy in 1922.
Morton’s last win against Motherwell came in the League Cup, in a 3-2 extra time victory at Cappielow. Alex Samuel gave The Ton a 1-0 lead after eleven minutes, which looked to have secured the tie before Scott McDonald’s injury time equaliser levelled the tie and forced extra time. Play was suspended for a short time as Motherwell fans clashed with stewards and Police, a situation worsened as goals from Alex Samuel and Michael Tidser put Morton 3-1 up. Despite Louis Moult grabbing a goal back, The Ton held out to progress to the next round of the Cup.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
The home side head into Saturday’s Scottish Cup match in good form, having won three of their last five league matches. The Well have toppled Dundee United, St Johnstone and Livingston, as well as drawing 1-1 with Hibs at Easter Road and falling 1-0 at Celtic Park. Having only lost once at home this season, a heavy 6-1 mauling in the hands of Rangers, The Steelmen are currently sitting 4th in the Premiership.
Ahead of tomorrow’s match, I spoke to Motherwell fan Scott Philip, who spoke of the improved mood in the home camp compared to last season - “Motherwell can go into this game feeling much more confident than they did the previous meeting in the competition last year. That’s despite a hugely disappointing midweek defeat which saw the Steelmen fall flat to 10 men Ross County in Dingwall.
9 months on from that meeting and 3 manager of the month awards later, Alexander has gradually managed to implement his methods on the Motherwell side and lofted them to 4th in the table. It hasn’t always been pretty, infact it’s barely been pretty at all, but it’s hard to argue with results. Largely down to a newly established steeliness and grit within the side, they are now hard to beat and know how to see out games and grind out those results. It doesn’t always go to plan and there has been bumps along the road, none bigger than Tuesdays 3-1 defeat at County or the recent 3-0 drubbing at Dens Park. But it’s been their home form that’s been most impressive, winning 7 of the last 10 at Fir Park with the only defeats coming at the hands of the Old Firm.
Liam Kelly has been the outstanding performer so far this season for Motherwell. Followed by Dutchman and fan favourite Kevin Van Veen who should now enjoy a more central role in attack after the departure of top scorer Tony Watt. Motherwell fans will be keen to see Celtic loanee Liam Shaw making an appearance in the hope that he can provide some much needed creative spark in midfield. Ricki Lamie, who is subject to interest from south of the border, is expected to miss out again with an injury picked up before Christmas.”
Photo - GBR Photographs.
All odds provided by McBookie. Odds are correct as of 7am on 18th January 2022 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.
The Premiership side head into this tie as heavy favourites, priced at 2/9 to progress through the tie via any means and 40/85 to settle the tie within regulation time. The Well are also 5/2 to win with BTTS and 13/10 to win with a clean sheet.
If you fancy the tie to head to extra time then you can back the draw at 31/10, with 9/1 chalked up for a 0-0 stalemate. The Ton are 16/5 to progress through the tie and 5/1 to settle the tie within 90 minutes. The Ton are 11/1 to win with BTTS and 9/1 to win without Jack Hamilton conceding.
Referee - Nick Walsh
AR1 - Frank Connor
AR2 - Graham McNeillie