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Match Preview - Morton vs Queens Park (30th March)


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Morton v Queen’s Park – Match Preview 

by Russell Gordon 

Morton draw the curtain on a month of misery by welcoming Queen’s Park to Cappielow Park supported by Dalrada Technology in the hope of finally ending a run of five defeats in a row against Callum Davidson’s resurgent Spiders. 

With the Glasgow side only a point behind Morton, albeit having played a game more, Dougie Imrie will see this as the perfect time to get back to winning ways against a team who have seen an upturn in their fortunes while Morton’s have declined. 

Match tickets are available at the below link: 

Fanbase | Select Ticket (fanbaseclub.com) 

DSC_2658.jpg

Photo - GBR Photographs.

Squad News 

The return of George Oakley to the starting XI last weekend was a welcome one for all of us, but it appeared to those watching on the Morton’s talismanic hitman wasn’t fully fit, impinging on his performance in the 0-1 defeat by the Fifers. 

Jai Quitongo also returned to the bench and got minutes late on as Morton chased down an equaliser, winning the penalty that Robbie Muirhead failed to convert, and barring any further setbacks, should be included in the squad. 

Imrie did point out that Iain Wilson, who has been greatly missed over the last month, has returned to training, but I suspect his return is still a good bit off. What will be of great concern to the Morton boss though will be the injuries to Lewis Strapp and Tyler French, with Strapp hobbling off early in the second half and French forced off late on. 

Should the full backs fail to make it, Imrie’s defensive options will be limited to the absolute bare bones, with only Darragh O’Connor, Jack Baird, Kirk Broadfoot and Calum Waters available. 

Imrie has intimated that he’s not been happy with the contributions of some however- stating that after knocking his door down to state their case for inclusion, but with options at a premium, what changes are made in forward positions will likely be made by necessity, rather than choice. 

Current Connections 

Grant Gillespie and Jai Quitongo both spent a couple of successful seasons at Queen’s Park, winning the League Two title in the locked down 2020-21 season, before playing their parts in a second consecutive promotion as the Spiders finished fourth and sneaked up through the play-offs, relegating Dunfermline in the semi-final, before winning a dramatic final against Airdrie to take the Spiders into Scotland’s second tier for the first time since league reconstruction in 1975 saw the leagues extended from only two tiers. 

Ryan Mullen made only one appearance for Queens in that title winning season, on loan from Celtic. 

There are no former Morton players in the Queen’s Park squad, although two former Morton managers have been involved in the club this term. David Hopkin was working in an advisory role around the time of erstwhile boss Robin Veldman’s departure and prior to Callum Davidson’s appointment. Fans of their Championship rivals may feel a tinge of disappointment that the Spiders opted for the far more accomplished Davidson rather than the former Morton boss, however. 

Hopkin’s temporary replacement, all round good guy Anton McElhone, is now in charge of the Academy at Hampden. 

Tale of the Tape  

Morton have had the better of this season’s encounters, but there’s no hiding from it, it’s made for difficult viewing. 

The first meeting took place at a rain-sodden Hampden in October when the flooding was so bad that the vast majority of the Morton support, and even Jack Bearne, couldn’t even get out of Greenock to make the short journey to the National Stadium, but despite other clubs having matches called off later in the season because of travel difficulties, bottom-of-the-table Morton were forced to play the match and emerged with a credible 0-0 draw from a turgid affair. Very much a point gained in the circumstances. 

With Morton’s form turning, the ‘Ton recorded their third consecutive league win as Queens, who had recently disposed of the services of Head Coach Veldman amidst a horrid run of results, were put to the sword thanks to an early Robbie Muirhead goal. 

Morton were made to fight for their victory though, with George Oakley sent off for a tackle on the halfway line that merited no more than a booking on 40 minutes, before referee Grant Irvine awarded the visitors a ridiculously soft penalty in first half injury time. Thankfully, Ryan Mullen was down quickly enough to smother Ruari Paton’s tame spot-kick. 

The Spiders huffed and puffed in the second half without creating anything of substance as Morton’s rearguard effort secured three vital points in difficult circumstances. 

Last month’s visit to Hampden was a similar damp squib to the previous visit, as the teams played out an insipid goalless draw, thanks in no small part to an uncharacteristically fine performance from Queens’ custodian Callum Ferrie, his late save from George Oakley’s point-blank effort being the most impressive of his stops on the day. 

Queen’s Park’s last victory over Morton was a 2-0 Challenge Cup success at Hampden in September 2016, and they’ve not beaten Morton in the league since April 1962. 

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Opposition Analysis  

There’s a clear correlation between Queens’ improved form in recent months and the arrival of new manager Callum Davidson. 

After a start to the league campaign that proved to be very much a false dawn, those in charge at Hampden (or Lesser Hampden/The City Stadium, delete as appropriate) were forced into decisive action as the appointment of Robin Veldman, a Dutch youth coach with no knowledge of lower league Scottish football, and the introduction of a model that relied on kids to compete against experienced pros in a division notorious for its rough-and-tumble nature looked to be sending Queens heading back to League One with a whimper. 

The first half of the season only saw victories over fellow strugglers Arbroath and Inverness, but since Davidson’s arrival, things have seen an improvement, with the Spiders currently enjoying a five-match unbeaten run, and one defeat in nine. 

While the signing of former Scotland centre-back Danny Wilson attracted the headlines, the arrivals of midfielder Sean Welsh and striker Cillian Sheridan from Inverness have also been successful acquisitions. While the departure of Welsh was bemoaned up north, there were plenty Inverness fans who would have driven the Irish striker down the A9, but three goals since his arrival have helped the Spiders climb the table to a position that now sees them targeting the promotion play-offs, rather than worrying about what’s behind them. 

What’s Happening Elsewhere? 

The BBC Scotland cameras take a trip to the seaside for the live Friday night action as Ayr United host newly crowned SPFL Trust Trophy winners Airdrie at Somerset Park. While a home win would see Morton going into their match in seventh place, an Airdrie win certainly isn’t a favourable outcome either. Draw please. 

We’ll be looking for a favour from bottom-of-the-pile Arbroath against Dunfermline, who I suspect will collect maximum points, making a Morton win all the more important. Partick host Inverness, and with their victory over Morton a few weeks ago cementing their play-off place, a home win to keep Morton further from the bottom end of the table would suit all of a Morton persuasion. 

The division’s match of the day, and indeed match of the season, sees league leaders Dundee United host a big-spending Raith Rovers side who must be smelling blood as Jim Goodwin’s stuttering Terrors limps from one poor result to another, a run of form not befitting potential champions. While a home win would see United keep the title in their own hands, I suspect a victory for the moneybags-Fifers may see the axe fall on the beleaguered Tannadice chief- too late in the eyes of many of the United faithful. 

After Hamilton spoiled the party last weekend, we’re likely to see a new and not-very-welcome addition to the Championship this weekend as Falkirk need only a draw at Montrose to win the title and promotion from League One at the fifth, yes fifth, attempt. While poking hot needles in the eyes is a more appealing pastime for the learned observer, the match is a 5.30 kick off on BBC ALBA on Saturday night. Not for me. 

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Betting Guide  

All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 7pm on 28th March 2024 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling.  

Morton are odds on favourites at 10/11, with Queen’s Park priced at 5/2 and the draw at 5/2. 

George Oakley to score the first goal is 43/10 and Morton to win to nil is 9/4. 

Match Officials  

Referee- Chris Graham takes charge of his first Morton match of the season. He last officiated Morton on the occasion of our devastating 3-3 draw at Dens Park last season that saw the eventual champions salvage a late draw that proved a mortal blow to the ‘Ton’s play-off hopes. 

AR 1- Paul O’Neill 

AR 2- Calum Doyle 

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