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Match Preview - Morton vs Raith Rovers (22nd April)


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Morton v Raith Rovers – Match Preview

by Russell Gordon

With Inverness snatching a late win at Hamilton in midweek ahead of the visit of title favourites Dundee, and Ayr hosting Queen’s Park in the TV game on Friday night, the mathematicians will be needed to come to the fore as Raith Rovers visit Cappielow Park supported by Dalrada Technology with Morton hanging onto their hopes of making the Premiership play-offs by a thread.

With Dundee’s Kwame Thomas popping up right on cue to pocket a point for the home side last week, Morton are looking at the table and hoping for snookers as they hope to remain in the frame for promotion.

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Squad News

Lewis Strapp will again be on the sidelines, whilst having listened to Dougie Imrie’s post-match interview, we could perhaps expect some changes, with Alex King in particular feeling the wrath of the manager having conceded the free kick that led to Dundee’s late leveller.

Jai Quitongo missed out last weekend and could again sit out, but the return of Cammy Blues on Saturday was a welcome one. As always, there will be question marks as to who of McGrattan, Ali Crawford and Miller makes the starting eleven. Whilst it may prove an unpopular opinion, Crawford’s late cameo at Dens was one of his more encouraging performances in a Morton shirt, although that might point towards the St. Johnstone loanee appearing from the bench.

Current Connections

Morton captain Grant Gillespie spent a season with the Fifers in 2018-19, scoring twice in 29 appearances, whilst Assistant Manager Andy Millen can of course count the Rovers amongst his extensive list of former employers.

There’s nobody in the Raith squad who have ever had the honour of representing Morton, and the closest link we’ve got is Ross Millen, who is the son of Andy.

Tale of the Tape

It’s honours even in the league with a win apiece and a festive draw at Stark’s Park, and penalty shoot-out victory for Raith in the SPFL Trust Trophy.

Morton visited the Kingdom in August and came away with their first defeat of the season as goals from Liam Dick and Aidan Connolly gave the hosts a commanding lead, before a late Cammy Blues header made for an interesting last ten minutes, but was to prove to no avail.

When Raith visited Greenock in October, Morton were to leave it late to emerge victorious,  Grant Gillespie dispatching an injury time penalty after Jai Quitongo was cynically hauled down when bearing in on goal by Rovers’ Kieran Ngwenya. Rovers’ boss Ian Murray disagreed with the referee’s decision and his post-match outburst was to prove almost as entertaining as the late drama.

Morton followed up that win with two visits to Kirkcaldy- firstly drawing 1-1 in the SPFL Trust Trophy before that penalty shoot-out exit. An Alex King howitzer just after the break was cancelled out by Lewis Vaughan, whilst misses from King and Liam Grimshaw saw Morton exit the tournament 2-4 after the penalty competition.

As Christmas approached, it was Morton who were handing out the gifts as Connolly doubled the hosts lead after a Brian Schwake own goal in appalling conditions had opened the scoring for the hosts. Parity was restored before the break through Jack Baird and Robbie Muirhead, but try as they might, the ‘Ton couldn’t finish the job in the second period.

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Opposition Analysis

Raith are the only club in the division with nothing to play for- stuck in no-man’s land without any prospect of making the promotion play-offs, but miles clear of the relegation ones.

However, a run of four games without a victory, three of them defeats, doesn’t bode well for the Fifers against a Morton side for whom nothing but maximum points will do.

Having lost the Trust Trophy Final to Hamilton Accies at the end of last month, they followed that up by beating title challengers Queen’s Park, but have since fallen off a cliff, with consecutive defeats to their cup final conquerors, Inverness and Dundee in recent weeks, before being held at home by Arbroath.

With rumours of investment coming in from those currently propping up Kelty Hearts, Raith give the impression of a club for whom the season’s end can’t come soon enough.

I spoke to Raith fan and A View From The Terrace panellist Shaughan McGuigan (@ShaughanM) who wasn’t terribly enthused about his visit to Cappielow this weekend.

“Normally when previewing an encounter between these teams, there’s something of interest to cling to, to shine a light on and explore a little more thoroughly.

Maybe the game is important, maybe a player is on a hot streak of form, or, and this is my personal favourite, there’s something or someone I can point and laugh at.

However, to say I’m struggling on this occasion would be something of an understatement. Indeed, the only time I became passionate about this encounter was when I realised it was the third last game of the campaign when I had in my head that it was the penultimate one. Suffice to say the end of the season can’t come soon enough.

That very much wasn’t my line of thinking just a couple of weeks ago. A goal up with around half an hour to go against a rancid Hamilton team, I was losing myself and googling the play-off dates to see what ones I might need to leave work early to make the away leg. Half an hour later, I was walking up Pratt Street in a huff, and wondering if all these dead rubbers could be called “in-season” friendlies.

All that’s left to discuss from those of a Rovers persuasion is which of the out of contract players we’d like to keep for the next campaign- the footballing equivalent of Snog, Marry, Avoid, with the added element that the players are playing the same game in their own kitchens, weighing up which offer from a mediocre Championship club they should accept, or worse, even worse, sign for Falkirk.

Of course, Morton can still, theoretically at least, get into the play-offs, although those hopes look forlorn at best. Not because I don’t think you’ll have enough to get all three points against a side that are on the beach to such a degree they’ll potentially take to the pitch in flip flops on Saturday.

No, the main issue is that our last two games are against Partick and Ayr, sides you’d hope to usurp for that fourth spot, so I regret to inform you they’ll be getting the same feet up experience from ourselves are you’ll experience this weekend.

Still, I do enjoy visiting a grounds with a big crane in the background, so I’ll look forward to frequenting again next season.”

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Betting Guide

All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 7am on 21st April 2023 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.

Morton are the even money favourites, with Raith priced at 5/2 and the draw at 11/5.

Robbie Muirhead to score the final goal of the game is 6/1, whilst the draw at half time and Morton at full time comes in at 4/1.

Match Officials

Referee- Dan McFarlane

AR 1- Dougie Potter

AR 2- Ian Hart

 

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