Morton vs Queen of the South – Match Preview
by Russell Gordon.
Queen of the South visit Cappielow on Saturday for a fixture rearranged from Boxing Day in the wake of both clubs' exits from the Scottish Cup, and which most observers would look upon as the proverbial six-pointer, with eighth placed Morton sitting 5 points ahead of the Doonhamers, who prop up the table. It's fair to say that such a cushion offers Morton much more room to manoeuvre than it does our visitors, but this has to be looked upon as an opportunity to create some real daylight between ourselves and automatic relegation spot.
Whilst we're well and truly back in the groove of going to the football again, Morton will be providing the usual stream for those who can't attend, which can be purchased here for the princely sum of £14.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
Again, there are no major injury concerns reported in the squad as yet, and whilst the team generally picks itself just now, Glens' Vodka SPFL Championship Manager of the Month for January, Dougie Imrie will again have the welcome headache of Robbie Muirhead battering his door down for a starting place, such is his excellent contribution almost every time he comes off the bench. With Oisin McEntee returning last week to the defence in place of Michael Ledger, it's difficult to imagine the backline changing after such a composed defensive performance away to one of the supposed title challengers in the Highlands last weekend, as Morton came down the A9 with three very welcome points from a satisfying afternoon's work. Iain Wilson will be hoping to break into the midfield, but it's difficult to see who of Gary Oliver, Reece Lyon and Cammy Blues should sit out to allow the former Kilmarnock and Dunfermline ace his first start.
There are no ex-Morton players in the Queens' ranks, but plenty ex-Doonhamers in the home squad. Club captain Kyle Jacobs spent four years in Dumfries before making the move to Cappielow three years ago, whilst more recently, Michael Ledger made five appearances for the borders club in the curtailed 2019-20 season having arrived in the January window, before signing for Morton for the following season. New signing Iain Wilson had a couple of loan spells at Palmerston in his time as a Killie player. Since starting his career at Hearts, Gary Oliver has had two spells at both clubs, and Livingston loanee, and Championship Player of the Month Gavin Reilly started his career in Dumfries.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
Tale of the Tape
It doesn't make good reading, in spite of Queens' lowly position in the table. A 2-3 defeat at Cappielow in August was the first sign that Morton might not be in for a particularly smooth campaign, as our visitors notched their first points of the campaign with a resounding win which in truth flattered Gus MacPherson’s charges on the day. This was followed by an insipid 0-0 draw in Dumfries, only really memorable for Robbie Muirhead's lob unfortunately hitting the bar as both teams had to settle for a share of the spoils. The latest fixture between the two was the Challenge Cup Quarter Final at Palmerston in the dying embers of MacPherson’s tenure. Whilst he was to be relieved of his duties after the 2-2 draw with Ayr the following Saturday, Morton's dreadful performance in the 1-2 defeat was perhaps the straw that broke the camel's back, especially with such an angry reaction from the travelling support on the night.
It's fair to say that not all is well at Palmerston. With one league win since early October, the prospect of visits to the likes of Peterhead, Kelty and Grangemouth next season is a realistic one. Injuries to the likes of Harry Cochrane, Udoka Chima and Paul McKay haven’t helped Queens’ cause, to the extent that club captain Willie Gibson has had to fill in at centre back on occasion, and the return of goalkeeper Sol Brynn to parent club Middlesborough was a massive blow, although Innes Cameron's return from Kilmarnock and the loan signing of Motherwell's Darragh O'Connor may well prove to be positives in Queens' battle to escape the trap door.
With the weekend's game at the Firhill bog postponed late in the day (a mere seven days after Partick were whining about their fans being put out by a late pitch inspection at a windswept (?) Gayfield), Queens were idle, but they can take some encouragement from their last outing, a 3-3 draw on a day of controversy in Kirkcaldy, courtesy of a fantastic late Shea Gordon equaliser.
Ahead of the game I spoke to QoSTV commentator Finlay Jack (@Finlay_Jack5), who spoke of the importance of this match to his side – “This feels like a bit do or die for us. I’ve been exceptionally optimist all season but with Ayr beating Killie it’s getting that little bit tougher. If we get beat, I still have complete faith that we can stay up, but a win would really help the cause! Imrie has clearly got the Ton playing, which is a concern, but 25% of our league wins this season have came at Cappielow, so who knows…
Innes Cameron returning for us is huge. Though, in my opinion, Paul McKay and Harry Cochrane were proving to be a fantastic spine of our side, along with Innes, so not having them is an issue. It’s no coincidence our form has dipped without them. Defensively we’ve been poor. I have the utmost respect for Gibson (naturally a winger/RB), East (naturally a winger/ST) and Debayo (a LB/LWB) who have each filled in at CB consistently this season. Roberto Nditi also plays there, albeit he’s played RB, LB, LWB, and CDM this season so it’d maybe be a stretch to call him an out and out CB!
There lies our issue, I guess. All of these players are absolutely capable of playing Championship level, though with no McKay or Chima (who has missed almost the entire season) they’ve been forced to play there. Bringing in Darragh O’Connor should help, although he endured a difficult first two games last week.
I’ll go for a Queens win as I always do. Hopefully the manager of the month ‘curse’ strikes Imrie and we can get a result. We are absolutely more than capable, but we need to show it more consistently.
Morton 2-3 Queens for me!”
Photo - GBR Photographs.
All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 7am on 11th February 2022 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.
It's been a while, but Morton head into the match as favourites for a change, although 11/10 could be considered generous given the two sides' differing form. Our visitors are priced at 11/5 and the draw at 9/4
For those optimistic of an enjoyable afternoon at the office, Morton to score over 2.5 goals is 15/4 and to score in both halves is 12/5
Referee- Mike Roncoe
AR 1- Chris Rae
AR 2- Brian Christie