Hamilton vs Morton – Match Preview
by Dean McKinnon
The Championship season kicks off tomorrow with Dougie Imrie’s Morton side travelling to Imrie’s old stomping ground. Imrie, who served tomorrow’s hosts with distinction as both a player and a coach, will lead the visitors out tomorrow in the realistic knowledge that both his current club and his former club face a season of attempting to avoid the Championship basement. With news that potential investment into Greenock Morton fell through this week, the return of league football and the prospect of a winning start seem more coruscating than usual.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
Alan Lithgow's long-term groin injury will continue to see the veteran defender side-lined. Apart from that, Imrie should boast a full squad to choose from, with Jai Quitongo's suspension now served and Robbie Muirhead continuing his return to the fold with a substitute appearance against Bonnyrigg Rose last week.
Michael Doyle, who signed for the Accies this summer, signed on at Sinclair Street in 2016 following his release from Premiership side St Johnstone. The athletic right back was a mainstay in Jim Duffy’s side in his debut season, helping the club finish 4th in the Championship and reach the League Cup semi-final. After sixty-four appearances and one goal for the club, he was released following the conclusion of the 2017/18 campaign and would subsequently sign for Queen of the South.
Both manager Dougie Imrie and assistant manager Andy Millen have both represented the Lanarkshire side. Millen has both played and coached at the club, signing for Accies as a player in 1990 and making 119 appearances over a three-year spell. He then joined the coaching staff under Billy Reid, serving less than six months before moving on.
Dougie Imrie is considered a modern-day Hamilton legend. The winger first joined the club in February 2010 from Inverness, spending two years in Lanarkshire before departing for St Mirren. He would spend 18 months at the Paisley before moving down the M8 to Greenock for a season. He re-joined the Accies in the summer of 2014. Whilst serving as club captain, he would also manage the Hamilton Academy’s U17s to the Scottish title, taking his side into the UEFA Youth League the following season.
Tale of the Tape
Hamilton had the better of the Greenock side last season in their four league encounters, despite Gus MacPherson’s men striking the first blow at New Douglas Park in their first encounter. A superb Cammy Blues through ball was matched by Gozie Ugwu, who riffled home on the angle to earn the away side their first win of the campaign. Lewis Smith’s goal looked to have secured all three points in the reserve fixture in October, before a 96th minute header from Gozie Ugwu kept a share of the points in Greenock. Two 1-0 Accies wins in February and again in March would prove invaluable as they finished seven points above the Championship drop zone.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
Hamilton’s League Cup campaign suffered an early blow as they fell 3-0 to Dundee at Dens Park, with Lyall Cameron’s 91st minute goal playing a pivotal part in their qualification campaign. Despite going on to claim comfortable victories over Stranraer and Forfar, finishing 5-2 and 3-0 respectively, they would miss out on the Second Round by a single goal, having conceded one more goal than Queen of the South.
I spoke to David MacFarlane (@DavidMacFarlane) ahead of tomorrow’s match, who spoke of the potential pitfalls the Lanarkshire side face this term – “After a better Premier Sports Cup campaign than previously, we where more disappointed not to qualify by one goal. After a terrible start up in Dens Park we started to look a lot better the last three competitive games if you take away the second half against Queen’s Park. Which will be a major problem for us this season again - absolutely no quality on the bench. A lot of fans are excited about John Rankin’s enthusiasm and energy but we have lost ten players this summer and brought in two.
This is already looking like a carbon copy of the last few seasons fans being told to be patient to get the right players in the door. And then they don’t ever turn up bringing on a 16 year old striker in every match so far this season speaks volumes of the lack of experience and game changing quality on the bench. My prediction for this game which I have already seen some fans saying is a six-pointer on the opening day which is true as ourselves and Morton where very similar at the end of last season so both teams will be wanting to see progression this year round I would be more confident if it was away from home.
Hamilton 1-1 Morton. Hamilton scoring an early goal with Morton scoring in the second half.”
Photo - GBR Photographs.
All odds are provided by McBookie. Odds are correct as of midnight on 28th July and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.
Home advantage seems to be the only deciding factor, with the hosts listed at 21/20 to keep all three points in Lanarkshire come full-time, with the same price offered on a draw. The Ton are 5/2 to claim their first victory of the Championship campaign. A score draw, priced at 15/4, seems a reasonable investment, or you can back The Ton to win whilst keeping a clean sheet at 9/2.
Referee - Mike Roncone
AR1 - Ross Macleod
AR2 - Gordon McCabe