Morton v Arbroath – Match Preview
by Russell Gordon
Having come away from last weekend’s Viaplay Cup tie Ibrox with a credible performance under their belts and a healthy cheque for their troubles, Morton return to league duty with the visit of Championship bottom dogs Arbroath to Cappielow Park supported by Darlrada Technology, looking to get back to winning ways, with the frustrating defeat in Kirkcaldy fresh on their minds.
Dick Campbell’s side of course, have problems of their own, rooted to the bottom of the table with no points, having played one more game than most of the division. Tickets for Saturday’s match can be purchased at the link below.
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Photo - GBR Photographs.
Having been forced to sit out of last weekend’s Ibrox reverse through suspension, Steven Boyd should return to the fold for the visit of the Red Lichties. It was encouraging to see the return to the substitutes’ bench of Jack Baird in Govan, but I suspect he is still a few weeks from full fitness and Dougie Imrie will continue with the central defensive pairing of Darragh O’Connor and Kirk Broadfoot. Jai Quitongo sat out of the cup tie and could again miss out, along with Grant Gillespie who picked up a knock in the build up to Rangers’ winning goal.
On a positive note, Iain Wilson should make his first appearance on his return to Morton on loan from Queen of the South, having been denied permission to play in last weekend’s match.
With Bobby Linn having finally departed Arbroath after ten years to join Lochee United, the only player on either side with any connection to their opponents is Arbroath number one Derek Gaston. The affable stopper spent seven seasons on the Tail o’ the Bank, claiming a League One title in 2015, and has entered his fifth season in Angus, showing no signs of his form waning as he approaches the ripe old age of 38, in spite of Arbroath’s poor start to the season.
Tale of the Tape
As I previewed the season’s opening league fixture against Ayr United, my first point was that Morton “owed” the Honest Men one. Thankfully, that monkey was removed from our back as we came from behind to record a resounding 3-1 victory. If there’s another team that this applies to in the division, it’s most certainly Saturday’s visitors. Morton have failed to win any of the last twelve games against Arbroath- drawing seven and losing five in that horror run.
Whilst the two 1-2 defeats at Cappielow last season were frustrating, the most recent meeting of the clubs, in front of the BBC Scotland cameras at Gayfield in March, was a really sore one. Having dominated for long spells, Morton only had a first half George Oakley goal to show for their endeavours, when Morton keeper Brian Schwake failed to deal with a Colin Hamilton header across his goal to allow Sean Adarkwa to level.
It looked however, that Morton would finally take full points when Michael McKenna blocked Robbie Muirhead’s free kick and Morton won a late penalty. However, Ali Crawford’s tame penalty was saved by Gaston, who then proceeded to make a ridiculous stop from Crawford’s rebound to cost Morton what proved in the grand scheme of things to be two massive points.
Records are there to be broken though, and it’s about time Morton put this one to bed.
Photo - GBR Photographs.
Things aren’t looking too clever at Gayfield. A poor Viaplay Cup campaign saw Arbroath knocked out, finishing a distant third behind St. Mirren and local rivals Forfar, and having to rely on a penalty shoot out to beat Lowland League minnows, Cowdenbeath. They would have taken consolation in the resounding derby victory over Montrose, but that didn’t provide them a platform to start the league campaign with any spring in their step.
A chastening 0-4 home defeat by title favourites Dundee United saw Arbroath badly exposed as Louis Moult ran amok on an evening that Dick Campbell and his troops won’t want much reminding of. That was followed up by consecutive defeats by Queen’s Park at Lesser Hampden and Gayfield, the latter a game brought forward from October due to both clubs’ failure to reach the knockout stages of the Viaplay Cup.
Ewan Smith (@ewansmithpr) is our regular expert on all things Arbroath, and is always quick to remind us of the Red Lichties stellar record against their more illustrious hosts:
“They say thirteen is unlucky, but will it be unlucky for Arbroath?
In their last twelve meetings with Morton, they’ve not lost once, and they’ve deservedly taken maximum points up the road on each of their last two visits to Cappielow.
On both occasions their matchwinner was Michael McKenna, and there were fears he may not be in the Arbroath side this time around.
McKenna sustained what appeared to be rib damage in Arbroath’s defeat to Queen’s Park last weekend, but scans have come back positive, and McKenna could make a swift return to the team for the trip to Greenock.
One player Arbroath will be without though is Colin Hamilton, who has been out since March with a serious hamstring injury. He, along with McKenna, have been the cornerstone of a squad that has extended its stay in the Championship to a fifth season.
After last season’s late survival act last time around, Arbroath haven’t started well. Out of the Viaplay Cup in the group stage and with three straight defeats in the league, it’s the kind of form that will have Morton believing that now is the time to smash their Arbroath hoodoo.
But one thing you can never do is write Arbroath off- their squad actually looks better this year. Nine new players have arrived with a much-bolstered frontline.
The loss of Bobby Linn, who has retired from the senior game, will be a hard void to fill, but there is more attacking threat about Arbroath.
They will still need an addition or two defensively, sooner rather than later with ex-Morton keeper Derek Gaston only six clean sheets away from matching the club’s all-time shut-out record.
If the likes of Jermaine Hylton- who starred for Motherwell and Ross County- can get firing, and ex-MK Dons star Jay Bird can get in a mong the goals then Morton could have another disappointing afternoon.
That said, a point would still be a good return for Arbroath and I’m taking a 2-2 draw and thirteenth time unlucky for Morton.”
Photo - GBR Photographs.
What’s Happening Elsewhere?
There’s a full Saturday card of fixtures, with no games picked up for TV this weekend. Perhaps the pick of the fixtures is the Fife derby at East End Park, as newly promoted Dunfermline take on their cousins from Kirkcaldy. The Pars will be hoping there’s no snipers in the stands in case Raith striker Lewis Vaughan finds himself within a couple of yards of a Dunfermline defender.
There’s another derby in Glasgow as early pacesetters Queen’s Park visit a Partick side who look to be suffering a hangover from last season’s endeavours, which is a real shame for them. Airdrie host another of the slow starters in Inverness, who they’ve already beaten in the League Cup group stages, and Dundee United travel to Somerset Park to face Ayr United.
All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 7am on 25th August 2023 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.
Morton are clear favourites going into the game, priced at 4/6 to finally end their Arbroath hoodoo, with Arbroath at 13/5 and the draw at 5/2.
A Robbie Muirhead double comes in at 5/1, whilst Morton to win both halves is 7/2.
Referee- Iain Snedden
AR 1- Daniel McFarlane
AR 2- Robin Taylor