Morton v Arbroath - Match Preview
by Russell Gordon
After last weekend’s disappointment and controversy at Celtic Park, Morton’s involvement in Scotland’s domestic cup competitions has ended for another season, allowing Dougie Imrie and his charges to concentrate on getting a league campaign that has stuttered in the last month or so back on track as Morton look to regain their place in the top four and push themselves further up the table.
With postponements over the festive period, the visit of Arbroath will remarkably be Morton’s first league match at Cappielow Park supported by Dalrada Technology since beating Partick on 12th November.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
Club captain Grant Gillespie will miss out as a result of his ordering off at Hamilton a fortnight ago, whilst Lewis Strapp will also miss out with a knee injury, having come off at half time last Saturday. The manager has already stated his concerns that Strapp’s injury could be weeks or months, and in the worst case scenario, we might have seen the last of the full back in a Morton jersey. Calvin Miller could drop back to left back to cover Strapp’s absence, whilst Darragh O’Connor or Carlo Pignatiello could come in a right back, allowing Liam Grimshaw to step into the midfield.
On a positive note, Imrie brought in striker George Oakley, recently released by Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who should be looking to make his debut against the Red Lichties.
Arbroath goalkeeper Derek Gaston is a familiar face to the Cowshed faithful, having spent seven years on the Tail ‘O the Bank, claiming a League One title in 2015, whilst Bobby Linn had a much shorter spell at Cappielow, collecting a Second Division title in 2007.
In the Morton ranks, Pignatiello had a brief loan spell at Gayfield in 2021, making only three appearances whilst on the books at Livingston.
Tale of the Tape
It doesn’t make for good reading. Morton just can’t beat Arbroath, regardless of circumstance. Morton’s last win against the Smokies was a full three years ago, in 2020 when they travelled to Angus and won 2-1. Since then the clubs have met on ten occasions with Morton failing to win any- drawing six and losing four, with two of those defeats at Cappielow.
Imrie has previously admitted to being particularly disappointed with the team’s performance in the 1-2 home defeat in September, but Morton were perhaps unfortunate only to come away with only a point from the December trip up the A9, a match in which we were denied a stonewall second half penalty. It seems penalties come easier to some clubs in this country than they do to others.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
The season starts now for Arbroath. After last season’s exertions, there was always going to be a sense of anti-climax around this current campaign, and that’s how this season has panned out. That said, Dick Campbell has been active in the transfer market this month, and the new year derby win over Dundee at Dens Park proved to be a real highlight of the season.
However, in losing 1-4 at home to Inverness, Campbell will be aware that the opening of the window is not an automatic fix to their woes of earlier in the season. A draw at promotion chasing Ayr and a credible performance at home to Motherwell in last weekend’s Scottish Cup defeat will at least provide some room for optimism that the Inverness match was an aberration.
I spoke to Arbroath fan Ewan Smith (@ewansmithpr), who is feeling a bit better about life in Arbroath in recent weeks;
“There’s no doubt it’s been an incredibly difficult season for Arbroath - especially on the back of last year’s Scottish Premiership promotion-chasing exploits. But there are real signs that we’re about to turn the corner- recruitment in January has been very shrewd. Six players have arrived and the new boys have made an instant impact.
Winger Yasin Ben El-Mhanni has two goals and three assists in four games, whilst Sean Adarkwa has led the line exceptionally well and Joao Balde has added an energetic spark to the heart of the midfield.
Ryan Dow is a very experienced head while Steven Hetherington and Toyosi Olusanya - on loan from St Mirren - are still to make their debuts.
Arbroath were boosted by the news long-serving defender Ricky Little has penned a new deal that will secure a testimonial next season. Little took ill during the home Scottish Cup loss to Motherwell last week but will, hopefully, be fit again.
And influential midfielder Michael McKenna is starting to kick on. The 4-2 win at Dundee on January 2nd and battling 2-2 draw away to Ayr United have shown that Arbroath can do it on the road.
But we desperately need wins and we need them now. We’re in a three-way survival battle with Cove Rangers and Hamilton and, while it’s one I think we can win, the games are ticking away.
Morton fans won’t need reminding that their recent record against Lichties isn’t great. It’s eleven games since Ton tasted victory against us. Naturally, I’m backing that to go to 12 with Arbroath winning this one 1-0.”
Photo - GBR Photographs.
All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 7am on 2nd December 2022 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.
Morton are favourites to end the long run without beating Arbroath at 17/20, whilst the visitors to win comes in at 14/5, and the draw at 12/5.
George Oakley to get off to a flying start with the first goal is 6/1, whilst the draw at half time and Morton at full time is 14/5.
Referee- Mike Roncone
AR 1- Paul O’Neill
AR 2- Craig Macrae