Morton vs Cove Rangers - Match Preview
by Dean McKinnon
Dougie Imrie’s side head into Saturday’s tie against Cove Rangers with three successive home wins in sight, as The Toonsers visit Cappielow Park supported by Dalrada Technology for only the second time in their club’s history. Following a tough run of away games, the Sinclair Street side have resurrected their fortunes and can once again start looking upwards in the Championship.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
The hosts will be hoping that there is a place in the matchday squad for club captain Grant Gillespie, who has now missed two matches in succession. He was ably deputised by Liam Grimshaw on Friday night, who once again showed his versatility, stepping out of right back and into central midfield. Leading goalscorer Robbie Muirhead will be hoping to play his part in the fixture and find the net for the first time against Cove this term. Calvin Miller appeared to pull up in the warmup against Dundee on Friday night, being replaced by Lewis McGrattan in the starting line-up. Jai Quitongo carried a knock for a large spell of the second half last week, being withdrawn in the closing stages of the contest.
To say that connections between the two clubs are few and far between is an understatement. Full back Adam Livingstone, who joined The Ton on loan from Motherwell, represented Cove Rangers eleven times in their League One campaign last season.
Cove gaffer Paul Hartley, who recently returned for a second spell with the Aberdeen-based side, spent a short but distinguished loan spell on Sinclair Street in 1999/00, with a stunning free-kick at Love Street the cherry on top of his short spell in blue and white. Scott Paterson passed through the revolving door that was the Cappielow dressing room in the midst of the administration saga of 2001.
Tale of the Tape
Morton have claimed six points so far against their Highland counterparts this term. Cove travelled to the Tail o’ the Bank on Matchday Two as both sides sought their first league win of the season. Despite a spirited defensive performance from the visitors, Jai Quitongo capitalised on a loose pass from Shay Logan, with his instinctive spin and volley thirteen minutes from time securing all three points for Dougie Imrie’s side.
The Ton headed north to face Cove on Matchday 16 in the midst of a six match unbeaten run. In an encounter that the conditions robbed of any real quality, the visitors took the lead through Livingston loanee Jaze Kabia in the 41st minute. The hosts looked to have snatched a point in the closing stages, as a defensive mixup allowed Leighton McIntosh to tap in at the back post. Robbie Crawford proved the hero four minutes later, with his stunning strike from the edge of the box sparking joyous scenes in the away end.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
Cove are currently keeping their head above water in the battle for Championship survival, sitting in 8th place ahead of Hamilton and Arbroath. They were minutes from securing a vital home win on Saturday, with Leighton McIntosh giving his side the lead fifteen minutes from full time, but the Red Lichties rallied and gained a priceless point a minute from time.
Ahead of the match, I spoke to former Sportsound presenter and Cove Rangers Head of Media Richard Gordon, who admitted it has been far from plain sailing for his side since they last locked horns with The Ton - “It has been a turbulent time for Cove Rangers since the clubs last met! In our next fixture, the Partick Thistle goalkeeper Jamie Sneddon headed in a 95th minute equaliser, and that seemed to set the scene for what was about to unfold over the next few weeks.
2022 ended with a win over Hamilton, but the New Year began with a hammering in Inverness, a result which spelled the end for Jim McIntyre as Cove manager. Paul Hartley came in and set about making sweeping changes to the squad. In all, nine players left - some being recalled from loans from their parent clubs - and eight have arrived, and the challenge for the new boss has been trying to find a settled side.
The victory over Partick at Firhill brought hope, and the team has generally looked more balanced and organised. With just eleven matches remaining, it is clearly going to be an intense conclusion to the campaign, but we remain on course to achieve what was always the objective for this season, survival in the Championship.”
Photo - GBR Photographs.
All match odds are provided by McBookie. Odds are correct as of 7.30am on 23rd February 2023 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.
The hosts enter the contest as favourites, pegged at 8/11 to keep all three points in Greenock for the third time in succession. The draw is priced at 13/5, with Paul Hartley’s side 16/5 to claim their first points against The Ton this term.
Energetic midfielder Robbie Crawford and towering centre back Jack Baird and both 7/4 to be booked at anytime. Given the Ton’s defensive record, conceding only nine goals at Cappielow this season, 21/10 for The Ton to win to nil may be a worthwhile investment.
Referee - Steven Kirkland
AR1 - Dougie Potter
AR2 - Andrew McWilliam