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Match Preview - Airdrieonians vs Morton (6th April)


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Airdrieonians v Morton – Match Preview 

by Russell Gordon 

Having gotten back on the saddle last weekend with a comfortable victory over their little pets Queen’s Park at Cappielow Park supported by Dalrada Technology, Morton kick off a run of three games in six days with what to date is their biggest game of the league campaign, as they head to North Lanarkshire to face Airdrieonians, the club currently occupying the coveted fourth place in the table that Morton will aspire to reach at the season’s conclusion to guarantee a play-off place. 

With any relegation fears now realistically put to bed following the weekend’s results, Saturday’s match will likely determine whether or not Morton are playing for anything more than pride and prize money as the campaign hurtles towards its conclusion. 

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Squad News 

Things are beginning to look up again after a difficult time with injuries. George Oakley of course has had another week back in the team, and Jai Quitongo looked a lot more like himself in Saturday’s second half cameo. 

There is of course a concern over Lewis Strapp, who missed the victory over the Spiders having limped off against Dunfermline a fortnight ago, but hopefully we’ll see him return to the squad ahead of the match. Iain Wilson is likely still a bit away from a return. 

One player who’ll hope for a starting berth will be Jack Bearne, who was excellent in a rare start last weekend and should be looking to build on his fine performance if given the opportunity against Airdrie. 

I’d expect Kirk Broadfoot to continue in defence over Darragh O’Connor, but it is nice to have some options again. 

Current Connections 

There are no former Airdrie players in the Morton squad, but three in the Diamonds’ camp. 

Lewis McGregor joined then-League One Airdrie in last year’s January transfer window from Morton, helping them to promotion via the play-offs and netting a winner at Cappielow earlier in the season. 

Charlie Telfer is another former ‘Ton man who found his way to New Broomfield, having endured the 2018-19 campaign under Raymond McKinnon and Jonatan Johansson. He would only spend one season at Cappielow before re-joining McKinnon, now managing League One minnows Falkirk, who he had helped relegate with his strike in Morton’s 2-0 win late in that season, leaving Falkirk in League One for 5 (five) seasons before winning The World’s Tallest Dwarf competition this season, so congratulations to them. 

Telfer joined up at Airdrie at the start of last season, and like McGregor helped the Diamonds to promotion via the play-offs, helping them destroy former club Falkirk 7-2 on aggregate in the play-off semi-final, en route to the Championship, and leaving League One so weak that even Falkirk couldn’t make a mess of it fifth time around. 

Airdrie’s veteran reserve keeper David Hutton spent the 2012-13 season as Derek Gaston’s understudy at Cappielow, making only three appearances. 

Tale of the Tape 

This is the fifth meeting of the teams, and it’s fair to say there’s not been much between them in any of the previous four. 

Airdrie took the spoils from their first two trips to Cappielow this season, with Lewis McGregor enjoying his return to Greenock by notching the winner against a depleted Morton in the season’s first league meeting that left Dougie Imrie’s side rooted to the foot of the table.  

Seven weeks later, the Diamonds would return to Cappielow on SPFL Trust Trophy duty, and were to weather quite a storm as a Morton side whose injury worries were gradually beginning to clear put in a fine performance, particularly in the second half, but did everything but find the net before bowing out of the competition after Josh Rae stopped Lewis McGrattan’s spot kick to send Airdrie through in a shoot-out. 

Morton’s visit to Monklands just before Christmas was a dull affair as Morton, again depleted thanks to the suspension of George Oakley following his red card against Queen’s Park the previous week, held out for a goalless draw. While it wasn’t pretty, there were few in the Morton support who were terribly upset on an afternoon that the visitors very much gained a point rather than dropped two. 

The most recent meeting of the sides six weeks ago was a much more eventful afternoon. A bad-tempered affair burst into life after only four minutes as Airdrie defender Aaron Taylor-Sinclair clattered into Robbie Crawford after only four minutes, leaving the Morton midfielder requiring treatment, with the Airdrie defender receiving only a yellow card from hapless referee Euan Anderson. 

When the actual football took centre stage, Morton took the lead thanks to a fine breakaway goal, as Oakley nodded home at the far post from a fine Jai Quitongo cross, and Michael Garrity added a second with a fantastic volley from what looked a suspiciously offside position on first viewing. 

With Morton comfortably in front, their season took a turn for the worse, as Taylor-Sinclair, lucky to be on the park in the view of this completely unbiased observer, landed a dull one on Oakley, ruling Morton’s talisman out for around a month, which coincided with a disappointing dip in form. 

A late goal from Airdrie assistant boss Callum Fordyce reduced the arrears, but Morton held on for the win, albeit at a cost. 

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Opposition Analysis  

Since that defeat at Cappielow, things have looked up for Airdrie, although it would be fair to say that like most of us, they’ve lacked consistency. 

They bounced back immediately from that defeat by inflicting a shock, but convincing defeat on Dundee United, and a less surprising one on a still toiling Dunfermline at East End Park. There have however been dropped points against Inverness and most recently Ayr in last weekend’s televised defeat at Somerset Park, with Airdrie surrendering a first half lead to fall to the Honest Men. They have of course enjoyed two recent victories over League One-bound Arbroath, and a fine SPFL Trust Trophy success over Welsh Champions The New Saints, delivering Rhys McCabe’s first trophy of his impressive Airdrie reign. 

With Airdrie going into the match two points clear of Morton following Tuesday’s Gayfield success, and both teams playing their games in hand on the rest in midweek, Saturday’s match will likely have a big impact on where each team finishes in the table. 

I asked Airdrie fan Emma Quigley (@emmaq1983) her thoughts going into the match: 

We’ve had a great run of form since Airdrie and Morton last met at Cappielow in what was another competitive game, despite our bad start. 

I don’t expect this game to be any different, and like most Championship matches, it’s extremely difficult to call. We don’t have the same defensive woes we had last time around, so I don’t expect a repeat of the first 5-10 minutes at Cappielow, which secured the points for Morton. 

We’ve had a heavy run of away fixtures in March with games in hand being played and one still outstanding, but we’ve picked up wins on the road at Dundee United, Dunfermline and Arbroath and drawn with Inverness and Queen’s Park- not forgetting lifting the SPFL Trust Trophy against The New Saints. The only real bump on the road was another loss to Ayr, this season’s bogey team. 

Injury wise, we still have midfielders Murray Aiken and Luke McStravick, and first choice keeper Josh Rae out long-term, but we saw the return of Lewis McGregor and Gabby McGill at Gayfield in midweek. We also rested a couple of key players, with the younger loanees doing well in tricky conditions. 

As for the result? As I said, I expect another tight affair with only a goal or two in it- our home from has been good, so I’m going for a 1-0 or 2-1 Diamonds victory.” 

What’s Happening Elsewhere? 

With no televised Friday night game, there’s a full Saturday afternoon card, with two of the other games having a particular impact on Morton. I’m afraid we’ll have to swallow a bit of pride and hope for Partick to collect three points against fifth placed Dunfermline, allowing Morton to climb into the play-offs with a win. 

Likewise, we’ll have to wish big-spending Raith Rovers against Ayr United in order that the Honest Men are kept at arm’s length. 

Dundee United, who came out of last weekend’s encounter with the moneybags Fifers in last week’s top-of-the-table clash unscathed despite the efforts of a thuggish element of Raith’s support, visit Hampden to face a Queen’s Park side who will still have lingering worries about facing a relegation play-off after their defeat at Cappielow last weekend. 

Queens’ concerns about the drop will be exacerbated if Inverness manage to register three points against bottom-of-the-pile Arbroath. A victory for the Highlanders would effectively relegate the Red Lichties, leaving a twelve-point gap with only four games remaining and a goal difference of at least 36 goals in Inverness’s favour. 

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Photo - GBR Photographs.

Betting Guide  

All odds are supplied by McBookie. All odds correct as of 7pm on 4th April 2024 and are subject to change. Please only bet within your means and visit BeGambleAware if you are struggling. 

Morton are surprisingly favourites going into the match at 11/8, with Airdrie priced at 7/4 and the draw at 9/4. 

Morton to score in both halves is 13/5, and Jai Quitongo to score anytime against his favourite other club is 9/4. 

Match Officials  

Referee- Don Robertson is in the middle of his second Morton match of the season, having ran the rule over the 1-2 League Cup Group Stage defeat by Ross County at Victoria Park back in July. 

AR 1- Steven Traynor 

AR 2- Ian Hart 

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