Morton v Stranraer – Match Preview
by Russell Gordon
Competitive action returns to Cappielow Park supported by Dalrada Technology with the visit of League Two Stranraer, as Morton look to build upon Saturday’s comfortable 3-1 victory over Kelty Hearts at New Central Park in Group D of the Viaplay Cup.
With Stranraer’s weekend conquerors Ross County likely to be battling it out for top spot with Morton in the group and the only guaranteed place in the competition’s last sixteen, three points would be a welcome return with the Staggies idle ahead of Morton’s weekend trip to Dingwall.
Photo - GBR Photographs
Assistant boss Andy Millen reported a clean bill of health ahead of the match, although with Morton at home against what is in theory the weakest team in the group, I’d expect a few changes, with new signing Jack Bearne from Liverpool a possible starter. Jai Quitongo and Lewis McGrattan will also look for starting berths after their second half cameos turned around what was at half time a difficult situation into a very comfortable victory.
However, with McGrattan, Steven Boyd, Grant Gillespie, George Oakley and Jack Baird all picking up yellow cards in Fife, Imrie may look to keep some of them out of the firing line ahead of what he’ll expect to be a far more testing afternoon at Victoria Park at the weekend.
The only current connections between the clubs are in the visitors’ camp. Strikers Ben Armour and Thomas Orr had similar experiences on the periphery of the Morton first team squad in the infancy of their careers before moving down the divisions having made around a handful of appearances each in Morton colours.
Stranraer Assistant Manager Peter Weatherson however, had a far more celebrated career in the famous blue and white hoops, netting 122 goals in 387 appearances over a decade, having moved from Queen of the South for £30,000 in 2003, bagging a Second Division Champions medal in 2007, and bookending his time on the tail o’ the bank with a testimonial against St. Johnstone in July 2013, before opening his account for new club Annan with a late free kick winner against his former employers to oust them from the Challenge Cup as a season of woe got off to a horrific start before getting worse.
Photo - GBR Photographs
Tale of the Tape
Meetings between the clubs haven’t been commonplace in recent years, although they were drawn together in the group stages of the Premier Sports Cup in 2021. However, with the world only just dragging its way out of the grips of the COVID pandemic, Morton’s squad were hit by an outbreak which rendered them unable to field a team and forced to concede a 0-3 defeat in what would have been their first game of the tournament, effectively eliminating them from the competition before a ball was kicked.
The last meeting of the two teams was a far more memorable experience, however. On the penultimate day of the 2014-15 season Morton weren’t the only visitors to Stair Park, as the League One Trophy also came to town, in the expectation of being presented to the hosts in the event of a home win.
Jim Duffy’s side however, had other ideas, and after a Derek Gaston wonder save with the match scoreless, Declan McManus netted a first half penalty before doubling the ‘Ton’s advantage before the break to leave Stranraer’s title hopes in tatters, much to the delight of the large traveling support. A late Ricki Lamie red card dampened Morton’s spirits, but the three points put them in the box seat going into the final match of the season, as Morton went on to beat Peterhead 3-1 and claim promotion to the Championship where they have remained since.
Stranraer were to miss out on promotion in the play-offs, losing to Forfar in the semi finals before eventually falling to League Two in controversial circumstances in 2020 as the season was curtailed by the COVID pandemic.
Admittedly, they were certs to go before the season was halted, and perhaps their lowly status didn’t attract quite so much attention, but they did at least conduct themselves better than Hearts or Partick, who suffered similar fates in the divisions above.
Stranraer didn’t enjoy the most successful of campaigns last time around, finishing seventh in the division, five points from the play-off places at the top end of the table and six from relegated Albion Rovers.
Manager Scott Agnew has been busy over the summer- as well as the signing of ex-Morton striker Armour from Forfar, he has added goalkeeper Martin McDonald from Hurlford, full back Cammy Williamson from Annan, East Kilbride midfielder Ben Hughes, Cumnock winger James Dolan and Kyle Fleming from Albion Rovers.
Pre-season has been a mixed bag, with a 1-1 home draw with Welsh Premier League side Connah’s Quay Nomads, followed up by a similar result at Hurlford United, a 0-2 reverse against Ayr United at Dam Park, as Somerset’s pitch is relayed and a comprehensive 4-1 victory over West of Scotland First Division side Kilwinning Rangers.
Saturday’s 1-5 home battering from Ross County perhaps wasn’t unexpected, but it sets the standard that Morton will be hoping to attain in a match that, for progression, and the rewards that entails are to be achieved.
Photo - GBR Photographs
All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 7am on 18th July 2023 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.
Morton are the clear favourites at 1/4, with the visitors coming in at 9/1 and the draw at 9/2.
Steven Boyd is a tempting 6/1 to continue his goalscoring form with the first of the evening, and a Robbie Muirhead double is 10/3.
Referee- Steven McLean
AR 1- Elliot Husband Powton
AR 2- Liam Duncan