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Match Preview -Airdrieonians vs Morton (23rd September)


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Airdrieonians v Morton – Match Preview  

by Russell Gordon 

Morton look to continue their charge up the table as they head to Monklands for their first visit to New Broomfield in almost nine years, to face an Airdrie side who, whilst they have had the ‘Ton’s number so far this term, seem to have hit a sticky patch just as our own favourites are enjoying their most productive period of the season.  

With the clubs now level on seventeen points, and Morton occupying fifth place in the table and the Diamonds in seventh, three points could go a long way to determining whether we’ll be concerning ourselves with the promotion or relegation play-offs in the coming weeks and months.  

DSC_0894.jpg

Photo - GBR Photographs.

Squad News  

Dougie Imrie’s side are, perhaps not unexpectedly, carrying some battle scars from last week’s punishing schedule.  

George Oakley will sit out on Saturday, and next week’s visit to Inverness after the appeal against his unjust red card against Queen’s Park was astonishingly turned down by the Hampden beaks.  

Likewise, Kirk Broadfoot will also be unavailable, having crossed the threshold of six bookings in the victory over Inverness last Tuesday, but with seven days grace granted before a suspension kicks in, he sits out the Airdrie match having been available against Queen’s Park.  

Added to that, there will be concerns over the availability of Iain Wilson, outstanding in recent weeks, who was forced off injured early in the defeat of the Glasgow side. He could join long-term casualty Calum Waters and Jai Quitongo on the sidelines.  

On a more positive note, I’ll correct myself having stated last week that Robbie Muirhead would miss out on the trip to Airdrie, having accumulated six league bookings. It turns out that I’m fallible and that he’s currently sitting on five, so assuming he’s fit, Muirhead will be available to face the Waysiders 

Current Connections  

All the current connections can be found in the home dressing room. Reserve goalkeeper David Hutton enjoyed a brief spell in Greenock as Derek Gaston’s deputy in 2012-13 season, while midfielder Charlie Telfer spent the 2018-19 season at Cappielow, helping himself to a crucial goal at Falkirk as the season reach its conclusion to condemn what would be his next employers to a place in League One, and doing his bit to keep them there four years later as part of the Airdrie team who annihilated the hapless Bairns 7-2 on aggregate over two legs.  

Former Morton starlet Lewis McGregor took what turned out to be only a temporary step down to League One with Airdrie in January, and came back to haunt Morton with the only goal on his return to Cappielow in September.  

Hibernian loanee Josh O’Connor’s dad Garry endured an undistinguished half season with Morton in 2014 that he’ll likely look back on as fondly as those of us who witnessed it will.  

Tale of the Tape  

While the aforementioned Lewis McGregor-inspired defeat was one of many a disappointing afternoon during one of the ‘Ton’s more testing periods of the season, the 0-0 SPFL Trust Trophy Quarter Final draw which culminated in a penalty shoot-out defeat was arguably the turning point in Morton’s season, as a far more encouraging Morton performance saw them fall narrowly to Saturday’s hosts at Cappielow.  

After an even first half, Morton dominated long spells of the second period and only profligate finishing cost them a place in the last four, in one of the better goalless encounters that we’ve seen Morton involved in down the years.  

In our last campaign in the same division, Morton beat Airdrie 2-1 at Cappielow thanks to goals from Andy Barrowman and Robbie Crawford (not that one!) and won 1-0 at New Broomfield thanks to a Jamie McCluskey strike before 0-1 (at home) and 1-2 (away) defeats failed to derail the ‘Ton’s title charge. We could also throw in a 2-0 cup replay win in Airdrie after a 0-0 Cappielow draw for good measure, but since the reward was a trip to Spartans in the next round, we’ll gloss over that one!  

It would also be rude of me not to allude to the Championship play-off final success over Airdrie in 2021, when after Robbie Muirhead’s late header gave Morton a 1-0 success on the road, they finished the job thanks to Muirhead’s spectacular opener, a Gary Oliver goal and Muirhead’s cherry on the cake. 

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Opposition Analysis 

After such a long time out of Scotland’s second tier, Airdrie were perhaps a side that few observers knew what to expect from. They had enjoyed a solid season in League One, and whilst the blitzed Falkirk in the semi-final, they found a Hamilton side who didn’t exactly set the Championship alight a much tougher nut to crack, only disposing of them on penalties having salvaged an equaliser in the 90th minute of the second leg.  

However, after a solid start to the season, they’ll be looking to get back on track after things haven’t gone quite so well recently, with defeat to Ayr on Saturday proving to be their third in a row and their sixth in eight since winning at Cappielow.  

I spoke to Airdrie fan Emma Quigley (@emmaq1983), whose thoughts on Airdrie’s ups and downs may well resonate with those in blue and white at different stages of the campaign.  

We’ve played Morton twice already and while both games have resulted in wins for the Diamonds, each encounter has been a real tight battle down at Cappielow, so it will be nice to welcome your fans along to New Broomfield on Saturday.  

It’s fair to say it’s been a bumpy introduction to the Championship for us, but I don’t think any Airdrie fans expected any different. We had a bright start to the campaign, but results have been harder to come by lately. Since the Challenge Cup win on penalties, we made it through the Scottish Cup tie down at Stranraer (1-0) before three straight league defeats to Partick and Dunfermline both by 2-1 and at Ayr by a single goal- by contrast, Morton have enjoyed three wins on the spin.  

Any frustrations amongst the Diamonds’ fans are that we’ve been competitive in each game, and probably deserved to take something from at least two of them, but a combination of our own errors and a lack of quality in front of goal has been hurting us.  

We’re a young team with a young manager- we’re learning every week. We’ve worked our way out of dips in form before, albeit in League One, but we’ve kept a lot of that squad and to their credit I’ve never seen their heads go down- they keep battling.  

Keeping my positive hat on, we certainly haven’t look out our depth- if you look at the bottom half of the table, every team has suffered these bumpy runs of results. In recent weeks, we’ve also suffered from a few injuries to key players, which has seen Rhys McCabe shuffle his pack in that time.  

Saturday predictions? We’re generally better at home, the playing surface suits us and how we like to play. Hopefully we start to get it right in front of goal. But we are meeting a Morton side with a bit more wind in its sails.  

I still think we’re more than capable of a result and you’ll not be surprised to hear me go for a 2-1 or a 1-0 to the Diamonds.”  

What’s Happening Elsewhere?  

The league’s top two are in Friday night action, with Dundee United visiting Queen’s Park for the BBC Scotland game and big-spending Raith Rovers hosting Ayr United in games that we’ll be happy to see both the league’s pacesetters take maximum points.  

On Saturday, an Arbroath side that climbed off the canvass with a surprise win at Inverness last weekend host fourth placed Dunfermline. Incredibly, a win for the Red Lichties, coupled with a Morton win at New Broomfield would see Morton come within a point of a promotion play-off place!  

In the other fixture, Partick host Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Firhill, with Duncan Ferguson’s Thistle looking to ensure a run of consecutive defeats doesn’t extend to three after falling to Morton and Arbroath against a Partick side who have won four of their last five league games.  

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Betting Guide   

All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 9pm on 21st December 2023 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.  

Airdrie go into the match as favourites at 23/20, whilst Morton are priced at 19/10 with the draw at 5/2. e 

Morton to win to nil is 9/2, whilst Robbie Muirhead to score the final goal of the game is 7/1.  

Match Officials   

Referee- Willie Collum officiates his first Morton game of the season. He most recently took charge of our 1-5 defeat by Partick at Firhill on 1st October last year.  

AR 1- Steven Wilson  

AR 2- Will Pare 

 

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