Berwick Rangers versus MORTON
Saturday 15 July 2017
Shielfield Park, Berwick
The 2017/18 campaign kicks off in earnest this afternoon with a Betfred Cup, Group F tie against Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park.
Jim Duffy’s men come into the contest in fine fettle having recorded back-to-back pre-season friendly wins against Stenhousemuir and Turriff, with new signings Robert Thomson and Bob McHugh amongst the goals.
Although the Ton have not visited Berwick since December 2004, when Chris Millar scored a stunning voilley in a 2-2 draw in a Second Division fixture, they have hosted the Wee Gers in recent years.
Coincidentally, one of those meetings was in Group H of last season’s League Cup, when goals from Jamie Lindsay and Jai Quitongo saw the Sinclair Street side claim top spot in the section.
An impressive series of results saw them go all the way to Hampden as they made it to the final four in the tournament before losing out to Aberdeen, and the Ton will be dreaming of a similar run one year on.
Jim Duffy told gmfc.net: “All the players will be looking forward to it. They’ve put a lot of hard work in in pre-season, and when the games come up, that’s what they’re desperate to get to grips with.
“Then you really see where you are. Every team in the country starts off with a huge degree of optimism, but you only really know how you look when you get a few games under your belt, and this is the first one on Saturday.
“There’s anticipation, and you should have anticipation for a new season coming up and a little bit of excitement, and to be looking forward to it – and I think that’s the case.
“The most important thing is that they go and perform. You can have all the thoughts you want, and you can do all the preparation, but ultimately, it’s about how you perform on the day.
“And away to Berwick is a tricky fixture. It’s a new team that Berwick have put together. John Coughlin has brought in about eight or nine players, so it’s hard to gauge how they’ll perform.
“But we can only focus on our own performance and go there and see where we are at this very early stage of the season. I’ve been pleased with the friendlies, but I don’t take too much notice of that.
“I’ve been round the block a few times, and had many a pre-season where you look like you’re all over the place and then you start the season very well.
“And vice versa – there are some pre-seasons where you look really good but start poorly. So as every manager in the country will say, [pre-season] is about getting fit and getting organised.
“It’s about putting the building bricks in, of course, but ultimately it’s about the intensity of the game, and you can’t replicate that in friendlies and bounce matches.
“You only really get that competitive edge once the cup competitions start, so we’ll see where we are after the game on Saturday.”
Defenders Lee Kilday and Thomas O’Ware, who will be sidelined for a minimum of three more weeks with a stress fracture to his ankle, are out, but midfielder Ross Forbes is expected to be available for selection
Teenage left-back Lewis Strapp missed last weekend’s 6-1 win at Turriff United due to a concussion suffered at Stenhousemuir, and he must sit out today’s match as he completes the required 14-day period of inacitivity.
Berwick left-back Kevin McKinlay spent a season and a half at Cappielow, making 40 appearances between February 2010 and April 2011.
Left-sided midfileder Gary Phillips was a youth player with the Ton and was on the club’s books between 2006 and 2008, in which he turned out for the reserves and made a couple of appearances in friendly matches.
Sat 30 July 2016: Morton 2-0 Berwick Rangers (Betfred Cup, Group H)
Tue 19 Aug 2014: Morton 5-2 Berwick Rangers (Petrofac Cup, second round)
Tue 02 Aug 2014: Morton 2-1 Berwick Rangers (League Cup, first round)
Sat 07 May 2005: Morton 4-2 Berwick Rangers (Scottish Second Division)
Last Time Out
Morton recorded a comfortable 2-0 victory against Berwick Rangers just over a year ago to sew up a spot amongst the top seeds in the second round of the Betfred Cup.
The three points meant that Jim Duffy’s side had finished as one of the four best section winners alongside Rangers, Partick Thistle and Alloa Athletic.
It was close to a perfect performance in Group H as the Greenock men piled up 11 points from a possible 12, due to a penalty shoot-out win at Albion Rovers, to top the section.
The Ton went four undefeated, kept four clean sheets, and scored five goals as they finished ahead of Premiership Kilmarnock, who they bested 2-0 at Rugby Park.
Another bonus had been the impact made by a batch of talented youth academy colts handed an opportunity over the course of the four fixtures.
Teenagers Lewis Strapp, Dylan Stevenson, Scott Tiffoney, and Jai Quitongo all started in the revamped League Cup, and to positive effect.
Tiffoney picked up the sponsors’ man of the match for his performance in the 1-0 win over Clyde, as did Quitongo for a goal-scoring first senior start away at Killie.
The striker’s reward for the fearless showing was to hold down his place in the starting XI against Berwick – and to continue to justify his inclusion by netting again.
Part of the reason that the young kids had been used so extensively in the early cup competitions was because Duffy is still working to strengthen his squad.
To that end, he added Celtic midfielder Jamie Lindsay on a season-long loan. He was given the No.10 jersey and went straight into the starting line-up..
He could not have scripted a more perfect way to start his time at the Ton than to score within two minutes of his debut in front of the Cappielow crowd.
Entry is pay at the gate and admission prices are:
Concessions (Over 65 and Under 16): £6
Entry at Section A and directed by stewards. In terms of disabled access, there is parking outside stadium and entry at Section B.
Berwick Rangers have a search policy before a person enters the stadium. Containers capable of holding liquid are not allowed within the stadium and anyone who is drunk will not be allowed entry and may be subject of criminal proceedings by Police Scotland.
Travel by Road: Shielfield Park, Berwick Upon Tweed, TD15 2EF (for sat nav). Parking outside Stadium. Entry at Section B and directed by stewards
A8/M8 – M74 towards Carlisle (junction 21) – M73 – Ballieston junction 3rd exit – A8/M8 – A720 Edinburgh City by-pass south – A1 – A698 – B6435 Etal Road (Shielfield Park signposted). Journey time 2hr 40min
There are no roadworks planned on the route as of 13 July. Please check trafficscotland.org for further information.
Travel by Rail: Greenock – Glasgow Central – Edinburgh Waverley – Berwick Upon Tweed. Journey time 3 hours, 9 minutes.
Car parking at stadium – £1, which includes a 50-50 draw. Coaches can drop off at the stadium and park in the town centre cark parks suitable for vehicle size.