Morton v Hamilton Academical – Match Preview
by Russell Gordon
It feels like we’ve been saying it for weeks now, but the visit of relegation threatened Hamilton Accies to Cappielow Park supported by Dalrada Technology really does have the feel of an evening in which Morton will be drinking in the last chance saloon if they wish to keep their hopes of sneaking into the play-offs alive.
After too many damaging results in the last six weeks or so, even a win is only likely to make a top four finish an arithmetical possibility for a bit longer after failure to record a victory at Somerset Park on Saturday; but our guests have far more pressing issues as they look to avoid the play-offs at the other end of the table, whilst also looking over their shoulders at bottom dogs Cove Rangers, after the Aberdeen side claimed a rare point at New Douglas Park at the weekend.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
Long-term absentee Lewis Strapp looks to have played his final game for Morton, after announcing last week that he will be moving onto pastures new in the summer.
On a positive note, Jai Quitongo looked a bit more like himself after coming off the bench at Somerset Park, as ten man Morton looked to source a winner from what really was the proverbial six-pointer.
George Oakley of course, will be missing after his ordering off for two quite appalling challenges that could both have seen straight reds in isolation.
Cameron Blues will also likely miss out after his knock against Inverness last week.
January signing Oakley is of course a former Accies ace, famed for his Marco van Basten-esque strike at Pittodrie in his Hamilton days, whilst club captain Grant Gillespie spent nine successful years at New Douglas Park. That nine-year spell ran concurrently with Ali Crawford’s own time in Lanarkshire. Efe Ambrose trained with the Accies earlier in the season before eventually signing for Morton.
Jai Quitongo started his career in Hamilton’s youth team, a club where his dad is a local legend, very much like Morton boss Dougie Imrie, who is revered by the Accies faithful. Andy Millen can count Hamilton among his many former employers.
In the visitors’ camp, SPFL Trust Trophy hero Reghan Tumilty had a two year spell in Inverclyde, marred by managerial changes and a loan move to Dumbarton when bizarrely, he was the only right back on Morton’s books. His unsuccessful spell at Cappielow perhaps says more about David Hopkin than it does about Tumilty.
Tale of the Tape
It’s a win apiece and a draw to show for both teams’ efforts in the head-to-heads this season. Morton opened their season with a trip to South Lanarkshire and fell behind early, Andy Ryan heading the hosts into the lead from a poorly defended corner early in the game.
The Ton equalised from the spot before the break- Grant Gillepie converting after Accies defender Shaun Want appeared to foul Jaze Kabia just outside the box. Want was ordered off for a second bookable offence, but whilst Morton were fortunate with the award of the penalty, there was a sense of frustration with a point dropped having played the whole second half against ten men.
There were no such issues when Hamilton visited Cappielow in October. Admittedly the visitors were perhaps going through their most troubled period of the season, but they were swept aside by a Morton side who were in absolutely scintillating form. Jack Baird started proceedings with a back post header from a Kabia corner, before Kabia himself got in on the act, latching onto a long pass from Grant Gillespie that cut through the Hamilton defence like a hot knife through melting butter. Gillespie added a third half way through the first half, sweeping home a fantastic strike on the end of a terrific move to net what this observer would describe as Morton’s goal of the season so far.
There was nothing pretty from a Hamilton point of view about the fourth as Robbie Muirhead latched onto a poor attempted back pass from Fergus Owens to score as easy a goal as he’ll ever register. Muirhead didn’t have too many problems converting the fifth and final goal either on 54 minutes, knocking in from six yards out as Morton walked through a long-since defeated Hamilton side.
Whilst the Cowshed cried for ten, in order to exorcise some ghosts of bygone days, there was no further scoring on a day as Morton chalked up their first home win over Hamilton in a remarkable 23 years.
Whilst Morton were the beneficiaries of a dodgy penalty decision on the season’s first day, they say these things even themselves out over a season, and Hamilton were to benefit themselves from one of the most disgraceful awards you're ever likely to see (until we went to Celtic Park the following week, of course!), as Grant Gillespie was penalised for clearing the ball, and the referee admitted to Dougie Imrie after the match that he had forgotten which way each side was shooting. Andy Winter converted the resultant 19th minute spot kick and, try as they might, Morton couldn’t get an equaliser in a game played in terrible wind and rain in Hamilton.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
You just never know what Hamilton team you’re going to get this season- and results certainly suggest that. During that 5-0 mauling at Cappielow in October, I was struggling to think of a worse team I’d seen that Championship level since Brechin’s gang of 2017-18 made a mockery of the division by not even attempting to compete.
But since ending a nine-game run without victory in the league against Morton in January, they knocked Premiership Ross County out the Scottish Cup, beat Partick Thistle at Firhill and Inverness away and at home in consecutive league fixtures.
Rankin has added well to his squad, with Tumilty and Hearts loanee Conor Smith being standouts.
It was Hearts that were to knock the Accies’ out of the Scottish Cup, winning 2-0 at New Douglas Park despite a spirited performance from the hosts. That wasn’t to be the end of Hamilton’s interest in cup competitions for the season though. Having earlier disposed of Rangers B and a severely depleted Inverness in the SPFL Trust Trophy, they struggled past their tenants, Clyde in the quarter finals and then made the final by beating Queen of the South 2-1 at New Douglas Park.
The Falkirk Stadium had the rare honour of hosting a match between two Championship clubs, as Hamilton prevailed 1-0 against tournament specialists, and Morton’s conquerors, Raith Rovers, courtesy of Tumilty’s goal on the half hour, but thanks in no small part to goalkeeper Ryan Fulton’s incredible second half performance.
That, however was followed up by a 0-7 mauling at Dens Park, as Dundee smelled blood against a team that had perhaps taken their eye off the ball and on the pints in the week leading up to visiting the title favourites. Like night follows days though, Hamilton went to Stark’s Park and again took the scalp of Raith, their 2-1 win preventing the Fifers from overtaking Morton, for now at least. And to reaffirm the point about their inconsistency, Saturday’s draw with a Cove team who look a lost cause at this point defies belief after such a positive run.
As was the case prior to our previous match with Hamilton, we’ve not asked any Accies fans to give us their thoughts. Some posts on social media have upset their board of directors in recent times, and whilst we wish the Hamilton fans well in their battle with the board, we don’t want comments made on this platform to result in any of their fans being banned from attending their matches.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 7am on 11th April 2023 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.
Morton are favourites with the bookies at 8/13, with Hamilton coming in at 15/4 and the draw at 11/4.
Given how rare clean sheets have been recently, a home with both teams to score is 5/6. It has to happen sometime, so Ali Crawford to score anytime is 11/4.
Referee- Matthew McDermid
AR 1- Gary Hilland
AR 2- Alastair Taylor