Morton vs Queen’s Park- Match Preview
By Russell Gordon
Morton face a midweek trip to Larbert this evening looking to right some wrongs after Saturday’s horrendous afternoon in Maryhill, but are running into a side that are hitting their best run of form so far this season and sitting neatly in second place in the table following last season’s promotion through the play-offs.
With trips to the Falkirk area a very rare thing in recent years, three points would be very welcome if Morton don’t want to concern themselves with trips to another part of town next season.
Photo- GBR Photographs
The return of Jack Baird will prove a massive boost to Dougie Imrie, although he’ll also be desperate to see the return of Alan Lithgow to help shore up a porous defence that allowed Partick far too easy an afternoon on Saturday, struggling especially to deal with their threat in the air. Jai Quitongo’s suspension extends to a second match, having accumulated six league bookings (including his second yellow against Arbroath) already this season. Hopefully Imrie will be able to assemble more than four bodies for a bench tonight, but competition for places isn’t exactly something that’s going to affect many of his regular starting eleven, which will be a relief to many after Saturday’s debacle.
There are a few connections in either camp, with Morton captain Grant Gillespie and the aforementioned Quitongo arriving from Queen’s in the summer, whilst the hosts boast Lee Kilday and former ‘Ton loanees Jason Naismith and Josh McPake.
Assistant Manager Andy Millen can list Queen’s Park as the final of the many clubs he represented in his lengthy playing career.
Tale of the Tape
With the Spiders only deciding in recent years to move away from their traditional amateur status, due to a number of factors, such as the sale of Hampden and the opening of Scottish football’s pyramid, not to mention the philanthropy of money-man Willie Haughey, meetings between the two have been few and far between.
The last meeting between the clubs was however as recently as 2020 as Cameron Blues’ second half goal in a League Cup group match saw Ray McKinnon’s side head down the M8 with nothing from a visit to Cappielow, just for a wee change.
Morton also enjoyed a penalty shoot-out success at the same stage after a 2-2 Cappielow draw in 2017, having suffered a 0-2 Challenge Cup upset at Hampden a year previous.
The last league meetings were way back in 2002-03 season, with the ‘Ton claiming two wins and two draws en route to the title. A double from Super Alex Williams and a Lee Duncan strike gave Morton an early season win at Cappielow against John McCormack’s side early in the campaign, but as Morton started to stutter in October, Dave McPherson was relieved of his duties after a 1-1 draw at Hampden and replaced by his counterpart in the home dugout.
A 1-1 draw at Cappielow later in the season was followed up by a scrappy 1-0 win at the National Stadium, with John Adam’s fine strike from a free kick taking the points to Greenock.
Photo- GBR Photographs
A team that scraped up through the back door last season, off the back of a remarkable number of 1-1 draws against some extremely mediocre opposition, one could’ve been forgiven for thinking that the Spiders may toil this season, especially when factoring in their somewhat nomadic existence in recent seasons with the delays to Lesser Hampden’s redevelopment.
But Laurie Ellis’s time in charge was never going to last, and Manager Owen Coyle’s appointment was in the post long before last season’s conclusion, and with him has seen an influx of a higher standard of player as they adapt to their new surroundings.
Enzo Tamagnini from the Spiders Talk Podcast (@SpidersTalkPod), gave me his thoughts on their early season form.
“It’s probably fair to say that Queen’s have adapted to life better than anyone could have hoped or expected. Our two defeats have come at Dens Park, arguably the most difficult away fixture in the division, and as a result of a second half collapse against Ayr United, having led 2-0.
Owen Coyle and his summer signings have been a huge part of this. Had he not joined the club towards the tail end of last season, you can be sure that we’d be plying our trade in League One this term. The difference in motivation and confidence was evident almost immediately, and the effects are clear to see even now.
Dom Thomas and Grant Savoury provide the obvious threats, having both arrived over the summer from Dunfermline and Peterhead respectively. They offer creativity and real attacking threat on each wing, and have proven a serious handful for teams this season. Simon Murray has also become a key part of the side; having scored five goals in the league to add to his three Premier Sports Cup strikes, the new captain is relishing his additional responsibility. He contributes so much more than goals though, with his hold up play being a key factor in our positive start to the season.
Another player to pay close attention to is 6’6 centre back Stephen Eze, who opened his scoring account for the club in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Raith Rovers. With 13 caps for Nigeria under his belt, expectations for him were high. His performances thus far have been somewhat inconsistent, but there’s been a marked improvement week on week as he adapts to the Scottish game. We’ve now had two consecutive clean sheets, and his commanding presence has played a big part in a achieving these.
Victory against Morton would (albeit temporarily) Take us top of the league but nobody will be taking anything for granted- we all know how unpredictable this league can be, and I’m certain that Grant Gillespie will be impressing on his new teammates not to help out his own pals in any way. Regardless, it’s an important opportunity to show that we’re not just here to make up the numbers.
All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 7am on 4th October 2022 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.
The hosts are understandably favourites heading into the match at 21/20, with Morton at 9/4 and the draw 23/10.
Robbie Muirhead is 15/2 to score the final goal, and given how profligate we’ve been in front of goal, this week’s optimistic bet of a correct score of 1-0 to Morton is 9/1.
Referee- Steven Kirkland
AR 1- Ross MacLeod
AR 2- Colin McAlpine