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Match Preview - Arbroath vs Morton (17th March)


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Match Preview – Arbroath vs Morton (17th March)

by Dean McKinnon

The Ton will eye a return to the Championship’s top quartet tomorrow evening as they face off against an Arbroath side desperate to avoid the drop into League One. Last week’s ill-tempered stalemate with Partick saw Dougie Imrie’s men tumble into fifth place, however The Ton’s record against the Championship’s basement boys suggests that any victory at Gayfield will be hard fought to say the least.

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Squad News

Aside from long term absentee Lewis Strapp, and Jai Quitongo who has proven a big miss in previous weeks, the manager should boast a fully available squad for the trip to Angus. Skipper Grant Gillespie continues to feature from the bench following his injury layoff, contributing against Queens Park and Partick in recent weeks.

Current Connections

Both former Morton players in the Arbroath ranks received league winners medals during their time at the Tail o’ the Bank. Derek Gaston played a major part in The Ton besting the third tier in 2014/15. Bobby Linn was signed by Jim McInally in January 2007, scoring twice in sixteen appearances as McInally finally delivered a Second Division title.  

Former Livingston youth Carlo Pignatiello was one of the many players sent up north on loan by the Premiership side. The versatile full-back made three appearances for Arbroath in the 2020/21 season.

Tale of the Tape

I’ll be honest, it makes for grim reading. Morton haven’t tasted victory over Dick Campbell’s men since January 2020 in a fixture notorious for its lack of goals. Arbroath out-muscled Morton with an exemplary away performance on Matchday 7, leaving Cappielow with all three points following a 2-1 win. Lewis McGrattan’s fine solo effort earned a point for The Ton as the sides drew 1-1 at Gayfield on Matchday 17. The Red Lichties repeated their Cappielow exploits on Matchday 21, with another 2-1 away victory.

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Opposition Analysis

The hosts have struggled to replicate the form that saw them push Kilmarnock all the way in last season’s title race. Dick Campbell’s side find themselves afoot of the second tier, with only four wins to their name all season. The part-timers are the least prolific scorers in the league, hitting the net only 24 times. Arbroath have drawn their last three matches against Cove, Partick and Hamilton respectively, however as we enter the final quarter, their focus must be turning draws into wins if they are to ensure Championship survival.

Ahead of Friday night’s clash, I spoke to sports journalist and former Arbroath TV commentator Ewan Smith (@EwanSmithPR), who was buoyed by the hosts’ record against The Ton - “‘We've already donated seven points to your survival pot this season. It's someone else's round.’ Those were the exact words of a Morton fan, not too far from this page, when discussing Arbroath’s survival fight. It’s eleven games since Arbroath tasted defeat against Morton, much to the annoyance of the majority of this site’s loyal readership. Incredibly, it was on game 12 that Morton ended their unbeaten sequence against Arbroath - a run of results between 1997 and 2019. Is that an omen? I certainly hope not.

Let’s be honest, Arbroath really could do with an additional three points again on Friday. If they play like they did in the second half at Cappielow in the 2-1 win in January, Arbroath will absolutely deserve it. Lichties were dominant that day in a game that could and should have kick started their survival fight. But while Arbroath haven’t lost away from home since mid-November, their form at Gayfield hasn’t been anywhere near that level. In fact, they have only won once at their former fortress this term. That’s the kind of form that has put them in real danger of the drop.

Things have improved with the arrival of Arbroath’s eight new January recruits. They look like more of a cohesive unit, have more bite in midfield and more threat in attack. They also have genuine options from the bench. The fact that defensive mainstay Ricky Little will be available after his red card at Hamilton was rescinded is also a major boost. Arbroath have a near fully-fit squad to choose from with only Keaghan Jacobs out. And while Dick Campbell will be confined to the stands after being sent-off for his touchline protests at Hamilton, he’ll only be a few yards further back from the action.

Make no mistake, Campbell will have Arbroath up for this one. A win will lift Arbroath off the bottom and much depends on the form of Michael McKenna. Arbroath have won three of their last four meetings with Morton and McKenna has scored in all of those wins. He loves playing the Ton, as do Arbroath, and despite the protestations of this site’s owner, I’m hopeful of another ‘donation’ to the Arbroath survival fund.

Another round of three points surely won’t hurt Morton that much?”

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Betting Guide

All odds are provided by McBookie. Odds are correct as of 7am on 15th March 2023 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.

There isn’t a great deal between the teams in the eyes of the bookmakers. The hosts are 8/5 to claim their third victory of the season over the Greenockians, with the visitors 13/8 to topple the Lichties. The draw is priced at 21/10.

Given Robbie Crawford’s propensity for picking up bookings, there may be value in backing him to be the first player carded, priced at 8/1. Centre back Darragh O’Connor is 7/4 to be carded at any point during the contest, which may also prove a wise investment.

Match Officials

Referee - David Munro

AR1 - Drew Kirkland

AR2 - John Stewart

Fourth Official - Ross Hardie

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