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Match Preview - Morton vs Queens Park (16th December)


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Morton v Queen’s ParkMatch Preview 

by Russell Gordon 

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

After collecting only eight points all season before last weekend, Morton can remarkably more than double that total in the space of a week if they manage to garner a further three points from the visit of Queen’s Park to Cappielow Park supported by Dalrada Technology.  

Having looked under threat of being detached at the bottom of the table not so long ago, wins over fellow strugglers Arbroath and Inverness have propelled Dougie Imrie’s side up the table to seventh place, with the opportunity of overtaking Tuesday’s conquests into sixth, should results elsewhere go their way.  

Tickets for the match can be purchased below: 

Squad News  

With three games in a week, I’d expect Imrie to tinker with his starting eleven, a luxury that hasn’t been extended to him to him too often this term.  

One person who could well sit out is Grant Gillespie, who was withdrawn early in the second half with what looked to be a nasty knock. The return of Alan Power should negate that, but whether the experienced Irishman can be called upon for the full ninety minutes is up for debate.   

Jamie MacDonald and Jai Quitongo are both likely to miss out, and long-term casualty Calum Waters will of course be absent. We could expect to see a bit more of Lewis McGrattan and Jack Bearne against a team who, like Arbroath last week are there to be got at.  

Robbie Muirhead’s booking on Tuesday means that he has a suspension in the post, but that will be served against Airdrie next weekend, as there is a seven day lie-in period between the final booking and the serving of a ban under SFA rules, making the hitman available for the Spiders’ visit.  

Kirk Broadfoot will again be walking a suspension tightrope, and will have to be careful not to collect a booking and give Imrie an extra selection headache next week by unnecessarily sitting in the stand with his teammate.  

Current Connections  

There are no former Morton players in the Queens’ squad, although former ‘Ton centre back and “fans’ favourite” Thomas O’Ware is on the coaching staff at Hampden, while representing Kelty Hearts as a player.  

In the home ranks, captain Grant Gillespie and the injured Jai Quitongo both spend a couple of successful seasons on Glasgow's southside and the various other locations The Spiders called home between 2020-22, bagging a League Two title and promotion from League One to the Championship.  

Morton’s Assistant Manager Andy Millen of course finished a long and illustrious playing career with Queen’s Park at the ripe old age of 45 back in 2011.  

Tale of the Tape  

I hope to be writing about Morton’s positive league record against Queen’s Park for a while to come yet. The two sides met at the National Stadium in farcical conditions in October, with most of the Morton support, and even winger Jack Bearne stuck in Greenock amidst monsoon conditions. With the pitch just about playable, the officials decided the match would go ahead, and a turgid 0-0 draw was the outcome from an afternoon in which nobody should really have bothered, but it seems that different rules apply when Morton feel hard done to than with other clubs in the division.  

Last season was the first the clubs had shared a division since our Third Division title winning year of 2002-03, and the ‘Ton collected ten points from the twelve available against their more fancied big-spending opponents.  

Morton took the spoils in the first match, a midweek 2-1 success thanks to goals from Jaze Kabia and Robbie Muirhead in a match re-arranged following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The ‘Ton followed that up with a 3-2 victory in February in another re-arranged game thanks to a George Oakley double and a second half Jack Baird strike three weeks before another double from Oakley at Ochilview salvaged a point from a game that looked lost for long spell.  

In the penultimate game of the season, a Gillespie penalty and a beautiful Robbie Crawford winner set up a thrilling final day of the season on which Morton fell just short of making the play-offs, while Queen’s Park were denied the title in a thrilling top-of-the-table showdown against Dundee.  

The Spiders’ last league victory over Morton came all the way back in 1962, when Morton fell 1-3 in an old Division 2 game at Hampden. Long may that run continue.  

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Opposition Analysis   

After a title challenge on their Championship debut last season, which fell agonisingly short on the final day, second season syndrome appears to have kicked in for the Spiders. A promising start to the season, in which they collected maximum points from their first three games against slow-starters Inverness and a double header with Arbroath was to prove a false dawn for new boss Robin Veldman, who replaced Scottish-born former Republic of Ireland international Owen Coyle in a summer of upheaval which saw them come to a convenient arrangement with the SFA for the renal of their former home at Hampden.  

Since that blistering start, they’ve only collected four points from draws with Morton, Airdrie, Partick and Ayr, and exited the SPFL Trust Trophy to League One minnows Falkirk, and the Scottish Cup to one of their many former landlords, Partick.  

Marquee signing Ruari Paton has found the net at a fairly regular rate, but star man Dom Thomas hasn’t enjoyed as fruitful a time of it as last term, and two of their other high profile arrivals, Scottish youngsters Barry Hepburn from Bayern Munich and Stuart McKinstry from Leeds haven’t seen much game time for one reason or another. Hepburn’s stupid late red card in the televised draw at Airdrie summing up what has until now been a pretty miserable spell back home in Scotland for the 19 year old 

Things behind the scenes aren’t going terribly well either, with the committee and CEO Leeann Dempster coming under fire from a support that is revolting. One man who has fallen by the sword is Head Coach Veldman, who was relieved of his duties last weekend following a resounding 1-4 home hammering by Inverness, a third defeat in a row following their cup exit and a dramatic late home loss to ten-man, big-spending Raith Rovers, having led in the 89th minute.  

Who has replaced Veldman in the interim is mystery to all- we may well see our old pal Thomas parading the touchline if Kelty are good enough to give him an afternoon off his other job!  

What’s Happening Elsewhere?  

Scotland’s match of the day takes place between the Championship’s top two as title favourites Dundee United host a big-spending Raith Rovers side that notched yet another late winner against Arbroath on Wednesday, in a game that is on course for attracting the division’s highest crowd of the season at Tannadice.  

The Bill Barr derby takes place at Somerset between Ayr and Airdrie in a match that those of us looking at the table with the glass half full may want the Honest Men to at least take something from as we look to chase down the Diamonds. Those with more modest ambitions wouldn’t complain about the prospect of an Ayr defeat.  

In the short term at least, the outcome of Dunfermline v Partick won’t concern too many of a ‘Ton persuasion, but many will look with interest for the result from the Caledonian Stadium, as our two victims from the last week, Inverness and Arbroath strive to best one another after Raith’s 95th minute winner condemned the Smokies to a sixth consecutive league defeat, leaving them rooted to the table’s foot.  

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Betting Guide   

All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 7am on 15th December 2023 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.  

Morton’s recent upturn in fortunes sees the hosts listed as 23/20 favourites, with Queen’s Park priced at 2/1 and the draw at 12/5.  

Morton to repeat the feats of the previous two games and score in both halves is 21/10 and Morton to win with both teams to score, like both of last year’s Cappielow encounters, is priced at 31/10.  

Match Officials   

Referee- Grant Irvine takes charge of his second Morton game of the season, having been in the middle of our 1-3 defeat by Dunfermline at East End Park in September.  

AR 1- Frank Connor  

AR 2- Ross Anderson 

 

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