Morton v Inverness Caledonian Thistle – Match Preview
by Russell Gordon
There’s no way of hiding from it now- we’re in the business end of the season, with only seven games left for Morton to force themselves into the play-offs and hopefully achieve the ultimate goal of a place in next season’s Premiership.
Their visitors on Saturday however, are on a high- Inverness Caledonian Thistle will be coming to Cappielow Park supported by Dalrada Technology off the back of an impressive win against our fellow play-off contenders Partick, and looking forward to a Scottish Cup semi final at the end of the month against League One minnows, Falkirk.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
It’s probably no bad thing that Morton enjoyed a week off, with opponents Hamilton otherwise engaged in beating Raith Rovers in the SPFL Trust Trophy Final.
Darragh O’Connor’s recent return to the fold has been a welcome one, and hopefully the extra break has allowed Grant Gillespie a bit more time to return to full fitness. Although perhaps the most important miss in recent weeks has been Jai Quitongo, whose eventual return will be widely anticipated be the support.
Dougie Imrie will have a job picking the players up after the disappointment of a week past Friday’s draw with Arbroath- particularly those of Ali Crawford and Brian Schwake, both of whom suffered personal disappointment on the night, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that Morton were actually terrific on the night, and were it not for their profligacy in front of goal, they would’ve won comfortably.
There aren’t too many links between the clubs, with the only one in the Highlanders’ squad, being centre back Wallace Duffy, who arrived at Morton on loan from St. Johnstone in 2020 before his loan was terminated without even having made an appearance for the club, with Inverness making him the offer of a permanent move which suited both the player and his then-parent club better than a loan move.
At Cappielow, manager Dougie Imrie had a two year spell as a player in the Highland capital, making 70 appearances and scoring 11 goals between 2008 and 2010.
Since signing from Inverness in the January window though, after a difficult second spell at the Caledonian Stadium, George Oakley has found a level of form that eluded him in that time. After scoring a solitary goal in Thistle colours this season, six goals in eight so far for the ‘Ton has been an excellent return from a man who is turning into the goalscorer that Morton fans have pined for since as far back perhaps as Peter MacDonald’s departure.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
Tale of the Tape
In recent years, home advantage has been a bit of a poisoned chalice in this fixture, with the away side tending to pick up maximum points more often than not. But this season, Morton have most certainly had the upper hand.
A late Grant Gillespie penalty on the road in August gave Morton a deserved, but somewhat surprise victory against what was perhaps their more fancied opponents at that stage of the season.
On Inverness’s previous visit to Cappielow, the home-team-hoodoo was blown out the water as Morton produced a scintillating performance in front of the BBC Scotland cameras, as goals from Robbie Muirhead, Grant Gillespie, Cammy Blues (as well as a David Carson own goal) sent an injury ravaged Inverness back up the A9 with a 4-0 doing to mull over. It would take a sick man to have enjoyed Billy Dodds’ interview on the night as he slaughtered his goalkeeper Mark Ridgers, having substituted him at the break with Morton leading 3-0. A great watch.
Inverness did however gain a point when Morton returned to the Highlands, although any Morton fans in attendance would admit to their frustration in not picking up maximum points for third time against Saturday’s opponents. An early Calvin Miller goal was cancelled out by Billy McKay just before the hour, before Robbie Muirhead looked to have won it for the visitors ten minutes from time. However, mix up in defence from a set piece resulted in Ethan Cairns levelling for the hosts late on to frustrate Dougie Imrie and the travelling support.
The Inverness team coming to Cappielow on Saturday are in a much better place than the one that visited in October. Dodds has alluded to the return of his big hitters leading to an improved run of results in recent times, particularly in the Scottish Cup.
It can’t be ignored that they are fortunate still to be in the Scottish Cup, having benefitted from an administrative error on Queen’s Park’s part after the league leaders comfortably beat them in Round Four, but resounding victories over Premiership sides Livingston and Kilmarnock have indicated a determination in their squad to take advantage of their good luck, and they will head into the semi final as favourites to book another Hampden date, and make a significant dent in their massive losses by beating another side who have had cup fortune that we could only dream of.
League form has also improved in recent weeks- the aforementioned victory over Partick was well received in these parts, but with games running out, Caley Thistle will be looking for maximum points to put a dent in our own play-off hopes but also cling onto their own slim chances for another week or so.
Two damaging defeats by Hamilton in the space of three days in February looked like killing off any prospects of a play-off place, but whilst the Scottish Cup run has garnered the headlines, a draw at Dens and a win at Somerset Park brought Dodds’s men back to the fringes of the promotion race. Defeat at leaders Queen’s Park wasn’t unexpected, but with everyone struggling for consistency, they’ll hope last week’s result can prove a springboard.
With no news coming from the SFA regarding an appeal against Sean Welsh’s red card against Partick last week, the visitors could be without their captain for the visit to Cappielow, but we’ve already seen red cards overturned ahead of clubs visiting Morton in recent weeks, so don’t hold your breath that Welsh will miss out.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 7am on 31st March 2023 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.
Morton are seen as favourites at 20/21 for the match, with Thistle coming in at 5/2 and the draw at 12/5.
George Oakley to put his former employers to the sword with a double is a tempting 7/1, whist Morton to be leading at half time and to win at full time is 9/4.
Referee- David Dickinson
AR 1- Graeme Leslie
AR 2- Scott Anderson