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Match Preview - Partick vs Morton (16th March)


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Partick Thistle v Morton – Match Preview 

by Russell Gordon  

With Morton’s adventures in the Scottish Cup over for another year after Monday night’s gallant performance against Premiership heavyweights Hearts proved to be in vain, it’s back to the league for Dougie Imrie’s men, and an important match against our good friends Partick at Firhill. 

With our hosts on a poor run of form, having now gone eight matches without a victory after Tuesday night’s defeat to big-spending Raith Rovers, Imrie’s side will themselves look to get back on the saddle by recording their first win of the season against our friends from Glasgow. 

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Squad News 

Monday’s change in formation against Hearts worked relatively well under the circumstances, but it could be argued that a less ambitious approach was required against more formidable opposition than Morton are usually exposed to. 

Imrie could again revert to his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, with two of Michael Garrity, Lewis McGrattan or Jack Bearne coming into the team, assuming Jai Quitongo will again be out, as his nightmare season again saw him forced out of the cup quarter final. 

While long-term casualty Iain Wilson will certainly miss out, the match will also likely come too soon for George Oakley, and such is the English striker’s importance to Morton, Imrie will be wary of rushing him back for fear of risking a further set-back. 

Ryan Mullen, although still sporting heavy strapping on Monday night, certainly looked more like himself against the Jambos, having visibly struggled, particularly with his kicking against Dundee United. 

Should he revert back to his preferred formation, I’d expect Kirk Broadfoot to take his place on the bench, possibly alongside Grant Gillespie. 

Current Connections  

The only former Morton player in the Partick squad is club captain Brian Graham, who started his career at Cappielow, struggling to establish himself in the first team as a young player before leaving in 2011 to embark on a somewhat nomadic career, and finally making himself at home at Firhill. 

Young striker Ricco Diack’s dad Iain, had a somewhat uneventful spell at Morton in 2004-05, failing to find the net in one start and three substitute appearances. 

In the Morton squad, Robbie Muirhead is about as popular with the Partick fans as Graham is with the Morton support. Muirhead had a brief loan spell at Firhill in the second half of the 2015-16 season, scoring twice in eight appearances. 

Robbie Crawford spent the 2021-22 season in Glasgow before making the move to Morton following his surprise release at the end of that season, while Jai Quitongo also had a short spell at Firhill, leaving Morton after his contract expired in 2018, but moving onto Iranians Machine Sazi after only a few months. 

Tale of the Tape  

It doesn’t make for good reading. Morton’s early season frailties were exposed in a Cappielow horror show in early September. Having taken an early lead through a terrific Robbie Muirhead free kick, the loss of Robbie Crawford after 20 minutes proved the turning point in a game that most of us would rather forget. 

Steven Lawless restored parity before half time, and things fell to pieces for Morton with 20 minutes remaining as Brian Graham took great delight in netting twice in a minute against his favourite club. There was still time for Harry Milne to receive his marching orders, but even with only ten men, Tomi Adeloye put the icing on Partick’s cake by adding a fourth to make for a thoroughly miserable afternoon for the hosts. 

It wasn’t much fun at Firhill in November, either. With Morton enduring a horrible run at the time, they fell behind to an early Kerr McInroy strike. Though things looked bleak at that point, Morton grew into the game and Grant Gillespie equalised from the spot after 32 minutes. 

Things were to again fall apart for Morton as the game reached its latter stages, though. Only Morton could see an opposing player red-carded but not see the benefit of them being reduced to ten men, as Brian Graham was given his marching orders for a despicable gesture towards the Morton support, who had merely shown concern for his wellbeing following an uncharacteristically quiet performance, for which he had been substituted. 

Of course, as was Morton’s luck at the time, Blair Alston notched a fortuitous winner for the Glasgow side, as Graham stormed out the tunnel to carry on his completely unprovoked tirade at the innocent Morton fans. Fortunately, nobody was harmed. 

With things looking up in January, Morton were forced to settle for a draw. After Robbie Crawford’s early goal was ruled offside, the hosts took the lead after half an hour thanks to an own goal from Jack McMillan. 

Again though, it was a late show from Partick, with Ricco Diack coming off the bench to score an admittedly fine equaliser for Partick to ensure a share of the spoils. 

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Opposition Analysis  

As I noted earlier, Partick aren’t enjoying their finest run of the season- though unfortunately, neither are Morton. They would have been disappointed not to at least collect a point from big-spending Raith Rovers on Tuesday night after dominating much of the game, but a first half Euan Murray header sent the points back to deepest, darkest Kirkcaldy with the moneybags Fifers. 

While goals haven’t been too difficult to come by in recent weeks, despite Tuesday’s blank, they’ve been leaking goals at an alarming rate. Having failed to win since their excellent Scottish Cup win in Dingwall, they’ve been knocked out the cup by Premiership strugglers Livingston, shipping a 2-0 lead to lose 2-3 after extra time, and conceded four goals to Ayr, three goals to Inverness and Dunfermline, a couple to Queen’s Park and one to Airdrie, Dundee United and big-spending Raith Rovers, only managing to collect draws against Airdrie, Inverness, Dundee United and Queens. 

The goalkeeper position has proved problematic, with Jamie Sneddon out for at least the medium term. Veteran former Stranraer custodian David Mitchell has the jersey just now, after Ross Stewart had a horrid couple of games, conceding seven in two games against Dunfermline and Ayr before losing his spot. 

However, with a three-pronged attack of Graham, Lawless and Aidan Fitzpatrick, it’s perhaps a relief that Morton’s recent injury woes haven’t really extended to the back line. 

With Partick having scored more goals, but not much between the clubs in terms of goal difference, a victory by two or more goals would take Morton above Partick in the table into third. 

What’s Happening Elsewhere? 

The weekend’s action kicks off with leaders Dundee United’s Friday night visit to Dunfermline for the BBC Scotland match. With United over the hill and far away from Morton at this point, there would be no complaints her if they were to keep the Pars at arm’s length from the ‘Ton. 

Morton’s nearest challengers for the final play-off place, Airdrie host bottom-of-the-table Arbroath, who even after their fantastic comeback win over big-spending Raith Rovers didn’t find themselves any better off following Inverness’s victory at Cappielow. By all accounts, the Red Lichties’ display at Tannadice last weekend was absolutely appalling, so don’t hold your breath for any favours, there. 

Inverness will be looking to climb out of the relegation play-off place by beating Ayr United in the Highlands, which would leave Scott Brown’s men staring down the barrel, while big-spending Raith Rovers have their second trip of the week to Glasgow to face Queen’s Park at Hampden. A draw between Thistle and Ayr and a win for the profligate Kirkcaldy side would do just nicely. 

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Betting Guide  

All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 7pm on 14th March 2024 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.  

Partick are clear favourites to end their barren run of results at 23/20, while Morton are priced at a generous 19/10, with the draw at 5/2. 

Robbie Muirhead is 7/1 to score the opening goal of the game, while the draw at half time and Morton at full time is 6/1. 

Match Officials  

Referee- Dan McFarlane takes charge of his first Morton game since we beat big-spending Raith Rovers 1-0 at Cappielow in the third last game of last season. 

AR 1- Frank Connor 

AR 2- Robin Taylor 

 

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'Brian Graham was given his marching orders for a despicable gesture towards the Morton support, who had merely shown concern for his wellbeing following an uncharacteristically quiet performance, for which he had been substituted'.

Hahaha!

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