Arbroath v Morton – Match Preview
by Russell Gordon.
This season’s Championship surprise team are back on the road up the A92 for the second consecutive league match, with a trip to Gayfield to visit last term’s shock troops, Arbroath, as Morton look to extend their unbeaten run to ten games after Scottish Cup progress was made with last Saturday’s win over Queen of the South.
With the hosts toiling at the wrong end of the table this time around, both teams will be looking for the points for very different reasons, with the spectre of relegation looking darkly over the shoulders of Dick Campbell and his squad.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
With no reported injury concerns, Dougie Imrie has a pleasant selection headache going into the game, with the welcome return of Darragh O’Connor to the side late in last week’s game. With Jack Baird suspended from next weekend’s SPFL Trust Trophy match at Raith Rovers, I’d expect O’Connor to get some minutes at some point in order to get up to speed.
Lewis McGrattan may also return to the fold after a fine second half performance last week, having replaced Jaze Kabia just after the break. Alexander King also staked his claim for a starting berth with that terrific goal in the dying seconds of the Queen of the South tie.
Arbroath goalkeeper Derek Gaston was a popular figure in his seven-year spell at Cappielow, bagging a League One winner’s medal in 2015, and Bobby Linn achieved a similar accolade from a far shorter spell away back in 2007.
Midfielder Keaghan Jacobs is the older brother of Morton’s Kyle, who is currently loaned out to League One side, FC Edinburgh.
Only Carlo Pigniatello in the ‘Ton squad has played for Arbroath- making three appearances in a brief loan spell from Livingston in 2021.
Tale of the Tape
Morton’s recent record against Arbroath is nothing short of appalling. We’ve failed to beat them in nine games, dating back to a 2-1 win at Gayfield in January 2019. Of course, in that time, Arbroath have enjoyed perhaps the best period in their history, whilst Morton have toiled with boardroom and managerial upheaval in that time, but even with fortunes reversing somewhat this season, the Red Lichties still managed to turn up at Cappielow and record their first league success of the campaign.
An early Dale Hilson goal was added to by a Michael McKenna penalty just before half time as Morton toiled badly in a fixture for which they’d have been banking on the three points, with only McGrattan’s injury time consolation to show for their efforts on the day. To add insult to injury, Jai Quitongo was sent off in the melee as he attempted to wrestle the ball from a reluctant Derek Gaston.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
After such an exhilarating campaign last time around, Arbroath are suffering perhaps the biggest fall from grace in consecutive seasons since our own annus horribilis back in 2013-14 season.
They do have the luxury however of a Hamilton side who appear to be in complete turmoil, but work will have to be done to pull themselves clear of Accies and make ground on those above them in their attempts to pull themselves clear of the play-off position.
The loss of Nicky Low was well publicised, but the biggest problem is clearly sticking the ball in the net. They are comfortably the lowest scorers in the league with only ten so far. The second lowest are Hamilton, who have notched sixteen.
That said, they did manage a couple of draws last month, at Inverness and, heartbreakingly at home to Cove, with the Toonsers netting an injury time equaliser. Last weekend’s 2-0 win over Highland League Champions Fraserburgh will do little to ease the pressure on Dick Campbell as the league campaign resumes.
I spoke to Arbroath fan Ewan Smith (@ewansmithpr), who was uncharacteristically pessimistic heading into the match.
“Arbroath have a very impressive recent record against Morton- we’re unbeaten in nine, having won three of the last four meetings.
Their 3-0 hammering of Morton the last time the ‘Ton travelled to Gayfield will live long in the memory of Arbroath fans as one of the most one-sided wins they’ve enjoyed in recent years.
But despite a well-deserved 2-1 win when the teams met in September, Arbroath are aware that they face a huge battle to claim only their third win of the season.
Morton have really kicked on since that clash, and are just a point off the top of the table- a full seventeen points clear of the Red Lichties!
And to get the win, Arbroath will need to rediscover their scoring touch. They are the league’s lowest scorers with ten goals and have been crying out for a striker all season.
The loss of loan stars Joel Nouble, Jack Hamilton and Anton Dowds from last term has hit us hard.
The club have tried desperately hard to recruit a striker, but have struck a blank so far, with a lot of the onus now placed on the talismanic Bobby Linn, who has thankfully delivered. His double at Fraserburgh took his tally to seven for the season, only one shy of his best tally since Arbroath reached the Championship in 2019. At 37, the veteran winger is showing no signs of slowing down and will again be a threat to his old club.
Another former Cappielow hero Derek Gaston has, arguably, been our best player this season. He’s produced a raft of top drawer saves- despite not having played behind a settled defence- and if Arbroath can find the net then they have a decent chance of claiming the points thanks to Gats.
I’m normally supremely optimistic when it comes to Arbroath, and I’d love nothing more than a win to kickstart our survival bid. But I’d settle for a 1-1 draw this time.”
Photo - GBR Photographs.
All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 10pm on 1st December 2022 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.
The bookies haven’t been reading any form guides, with Arbroath the 6/4 favourites against a Morton side who come in at 13/8, whilst the draw is 11/5. Morton to win to nil is 10/3, whilst Morton at half time and full time is 7/2.
Referee- David Dickinson
AR 1- Jonathan Bell
AR 2- Barry Reid