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Match Preview - Morton vs Dunfermline (Scottish Cup 23rd March)



Morton vs Dunfermline – Match Preview

by Craig Dunning/Dean McKinnon.

Ten days after the last meeting between the sides, Morton welcome Dunfermline to Cappielow for the Scottish Cup Second Round tie. which was originally scheduled for January before the suspension of the tournament.

Morton will go into the game with confidence following their victory over Queen of the South on Saturday, while Dunfermline suffered a 1-0 victory at home to Queen of the South. An away tie with East Fife awaits the winners in the Third Round.

Following the defeat at East End Park the previous week, Gus MacPherson switched to a 3-5-2 against Queen of the South, with Darren Hynes coming in for his first start of the season along with Gary OIiver, Kalvin Orsi and fit again Lewis Strapp replacing Michael Ledger, Reece Lyon, Craig McGuffie and Kazaiah Sterling. After a vital win and much improved performance, it would be no surprise to see Morton continue with the same system on Saturday, although it's possible that MacPherson may choose to rotate with more vital games coming up in the league.

Current Connections

Declan McManus joined Morton in 2014 on loan from Aberdeen, aiming to assist Jim Duffy in winning the League One title at the first attempt. He was a star man for the title winning Ton, scoring twenty-three goals and being selected for the PFA League One Team of the Year. He then went south of the border for a spell at Fleetwood Town, before returning to Greenock midway through the 2015/16 season. He has since had spells at Raith Rovers, Dunfermline, Ross County and Falkirk before rejoining Dunfermline in 2020. Morton manager Gus MacPherson spent two seasons with Dunfermline as a player from 2001 to 2003.

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Tale of the Tape

The sides met in Gus MacPherson's first game in charge last Saturday. Aidan McAdams saved a Craig Wighton penalty after bringing him down, but Wighton scored the only goal just before half-time to secure a win for a Dunfermline side just back from an enforced layoff after two postponements due to a positive case of COVID-19.

The last meeting at Cappielow was a dull 0-0 in January in front of the BBC Scotland cameras, with Dunfermline failing to make the breakthrough despite having the better of the chances. Aidan McAdams denied Iain Wilson, Dom Thomas and Declan McManus as Morton failed to register a single shot on target.

Anton McElhone’s managerial debut came in this fixture in December. The former Spurs fitness coach found himself unexpectedly promoted after David Hopkin walked out of the club less than 48 hours before the match, following a dispute with chairman Crawford Rae. A new look Morton, lining up in a 4-2-3-1, took the lead thanks to a well-executed volley from former club captain Jim McAlister. Former Morton striker Declan McManus equalised for the home side from the penalty spot before a thumping finish from Craig McGuffie gave the away side all three points.

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Opposition Analysis

Former Morton striker Declan McManus has been a key part of the Pars’ season so far, sitting joint third in the scoring charts with seven goals to his name. The Pars have averaged 1.53 goals per game from 9.76 shots attempted per match. The Fife side sit bottom of the fouls conceded charts, indicating that they prefer to play free-flowing football. By comparison, Morton have conceded the second highest number of fouls in the Championship (237), trailing only Arbroath.

Morton’s attackers could look to exploit midfield enforced Iain Wilson. Wilson sits joint third across the Championship for cautions this term with five to his name. The combative defensive midfielder played for Kilmarnock and Queen of the South before joining Dunfermline and has made fifteen appearances so far this season.

Ahead of the match, I spoke to Dunfermline supporter Dennis Hamilton, who discussed his team’s key players this season – “In the games I’ve seen this season, Kerr McInroy looks ‘a pler’, and signing Craig Whigton in January looks like it could have been a great bit of business. Hopefully he and Declan McManus can form a fruitful partnership for the rest of the season and beyond. Bringing in Steven Whittaker was a surprise, mainly as he could probably play at a higher level still, but giving him a coaching role as well seems to have swung it for us.

Morton are a bit of a bogey team for us, we don’t seem to have much success against you very often, although I have very fond memories of 2011 when we won the First Division at Cappielow, one of the great old school grounds of Scottish football. I always feel a bit of nerves against Morton due to your knack of getting results against us, but I’m hoping for a better game than the 0-0 draw in January. I think I daydreamed about four times about root canal surgery, which would’ve been more enjoyable. Hopefully we can get a result.”

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Betting Guide

All match odds are provided by our sponsors – McBookie. All odds correct as of 11am on 11th March 2021 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.

If you back fancy the home side to progress, you can back them at 13/8 to win the tie within regulation time. You can back Morton to win and BTTS at 14/5 and to win to nil at 5/1. Morton to progress to the next round is 9/10.

You can back the draw at 14/5 and a huge 20/1 on a 0-0 stalemate. Dunfermline go into the match as slight favourites at 11/8. The Pars to win and BTTS prices at 5/2 and to win to nil at 9/2. Dunfermline to progress to the next round at 17/20. 

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