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Match Preview - Raith Rovers vs Morton (9th April)


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Raith Rovers v Morton - Match Preview

by Russell Gordon.

It’s football for a fiver in Fife again as Morton visit the Kingdom for their penultimate away trip of the campaign to face newly crowned SPFL Trust Challenge Cup winners, Raith Rovers. With a place in the promotion play-offs probably out of reach by this stage for Morton, the focus will be on collecting three points to rid us of any lingering relegation fears, which weren’t helped by the Rovers’ capitulation to Dunfermline in the midweek derby at East End Park.

Raith will be providing a stream for those who can’t make the trip, priced at £14 and available here. At £14 though, it’s probably better value to travel through to the game.

Morton Raith-23 (1).jpg

Photo - GBR Photographs.

Squad News

There are no real injury concerns in the visitors’ camp after the return of Brian McLean last weekend, whose excellent performance on the left-hand side of the defensive three was marred by referee David Munro’s ridiculous penalty award which denied Morton all three points against the league leaders.

Current Connections 

Only Reghan Tumilty in the Raith squad has represented Morton- signed by Raymond McKinnon in 2018, he had a difficult two-year spell at Cappielow under three different managers which was bizarrely punctuated by a loan spell at Dumbarton, despite being the only senior right back at the club at the time. His signing on at Kirkcaldy under freedom of contract after Hopkin and erstwhile Chairman Crawford Rae failed to take the necessary action to convince him to stick around at Cappielow caused widespread consternation in the support. Perhaps Hopkin wasn’t as good a gaffer as he let on.

In the ‘Ton ranks, Gozie Ugwu arrived from Raith in the summer, having spent last season at the Kirkcaldy club, whilst Assistant Manager Andy Millen has a spell at Raith as a player in 1997.

Tale of the Tape 

Morton’s record against Raith is abysmal. There can’t be a team of a similar stature that we’ve had a worse record against in recent years. The thrilling 2-2 draw in front of the BBC cameras at Cappielow in January ended a run of six consecutive defeats against them, dating back to a 1-0 midweek win at Stark’s Park in February 2017. That win is our only in Kirkcaldy in our last twelve, which has included only one draw and a couple of 0-5 hammerings.

This season has seen an insipid 0-1 defeat at Cappielow in September and a 1-2 defeat at Stark’s in November, as Raith came from behind to collect the points in the dying embers of Gus MacPherson’s reign. We can take comfort in the vastly improved performance that Friday night at Cappielow when Morton were extremely unfortunate not to take full points, despite Raith boss John McGlynn’s complaints that we had a tactic of using Lewis Strapp’s long throws into the box to put pressure on Raith’s defence. Let’s hope he has plenty to complain about this weekend, too.

Morton Raith-53 (1).jpg

Photo - GBR Photographs.

Opposition Analysis 

It’s fair to say that Raith have had a season not without its challenges. After a strong start to the season that included those two wins over ourselves, they endured a real winter of discontent, which saw a run of eleven without a win in the league, and really came to a head with the controversial signing of Clyde captain David Goodwillie, which saw major sponsor Val McDermid pull the plug, their womens’ team walk en masse and worldwide condemnation of the club due to Goodwillie’s lurid past.

Sunday’s Matej Poplatnik-inspired Challenge Cup Final victory over relegation-haunted Queen of the South must’ve been a welcome diversion after such hard times, but the outsider would suggest that the outrage in the Raith support has simmered in recent weeks, although serious questions will be asked about the board of directors, and perhaps even Manager John McGlynn for their roles in the whole debacle, over the summer.

Whilst there’s still a realistic chance of making the play-offs, owing in no small part to Partick Thistle’s magnificent month of March, they’d have to be considered outsiders to make it, and a defeat on Saturday could see them looking over their shoulders at the progress of Hamilton and Morton as they hope to at least ensure a top-half finish, especially in light of what was an extremely disappointing Fife derby performance on Wednesday, off the back of the cup win.

I spoke to Raith fan Dennis Hamilton, who gave off mixed vibes about his heroes’ chances ahead of our visit on Saturday;

"There's an air of 'do or die' for the Rovers on Saturday as we look to overtake Partick and claim the final play-off place. The jubilation of the cup final win was short-lived, quickly whisked away by a poor defeat in the derby in midweek, and my main concern is how leggy our squad may be heading into a match with a Morton side who seem to play with a far higher intensity under previous managers.

Our playing style, tired legs and recent record of conceding cheap goals don't fill me with a great deal of confidence ahead of this one, but the optimist in me still thinks we have enough in the tank to give a good account of ourselves.

Our defensive frailties need set right ahead of the run in if we are to have any chance of securing fourth place- we've scored less and conceded more than Partick, which doesn't bode well, but this is a match that we simply must take three points from if we're to snatch the play-off place I feel our performances throughout the season have merited. 1-0 Rovers for me."

Morton Raith-29 (1).jpg

Photo - GBR Photographs.

Betting Guide 

All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 7am on 8th April 2022 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.

The home side go into the game as 21/20 favourites, with Morton a tempting 23/10 and the draw at 9/4.

In spite of my grumbles about Morton’s terrible record against Raith, and at Kirkcaldy in particular, I’ve not mentioned the Dougie effect, so here’s hoping tomorrow’s the day we get over this particular hurdle.

I’d suggest Gavin Reilly for first goalscorer at 19/2 and Morton to win 2-1 at 10/1.

Match Officials 

Referee- Matthew MacDermid

AR 1-  Graeme Stewart

AR 2- Jordan Cousland

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