MORTON versus Falkirk
Saturday 13 January 2018
Cappielow Park, Greenock
Matchday 22 of the 2017/18 Ladbrokes Championship campaign sees Morton welcome Paul Hartley and his Falkirk side to Cappielow this afternooon.
Both the Ton and Bairns’ recent league results have brought the unpredictable nature of Scottish football’s second tier into stark focus.
After recording an astonishing 6-1 home win over Dundee United last Saturday, Falkirk followed that up with a sound 4-1 loss to Inverness Caledonian Thistle just three days later.
Jim Duffy’s men, on the other hand, recorded back-to-back 1-1 draws with the side sat clear at the top of the table – St Mirren – and then the club marooned at the bottom – Brechin City.
These results all serve to support the oft-repeated mantra by bosses across the division that any side is capable of beating any other on their day in what can be a completely unpredictable league.
The Ton, though, managed a convincing 3-0 win away to the Bairns in their last meeting, on 25 November last year, and they will be hoping to replicate both that performance and the second-half display at Brechin.
Jim Duffy told gmfc.net: “Against St Mirren recently we finished really strongly and were a bit unfortunate not to get all three points.
“I was absolutely delighted with the response of the players after half-time. They really took the game to St Mirren and were very dominant for long spells.
“Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get that winning goal. That was also the case when we played Brechin City in the next match last Saturday.
“It was a different proposition going up to Glebe Park, where the pitch was really heavy and the park tight, but once again I was delighted with the overall performance of the team.
“In the first 20 minutes, we started a little slowly, but from pretty much then on in, we created chance after chance, and it was just one of those days.
“There was a combination of bad luck, poor finishing, good defending, good goalkeeping, and I felt we should have got a penalty, similar to St Mirren, for a Graeme Smith foul on Gary Oliver.
“We certainly deserved all three points and just couldn’t quite get the ball over the line. So, although we’ve had two draws, I’ve felt the performances have deserved an awful lot more.
“The attitude and desire of the players has been tremendous. The determination to get all three points was evident; we gave everything to get the win and were just a bit unfortunate.
“If we can emulate that in the days ahead, starting against Falkirk, then I think we can look forward to the second half of the season.
“We know Falkirk had a terrific result last weekend, a really outstanding result beating Dundee United 6-1 at home. They then lost 4-1 away to Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Tuesday, and I felt those results really typified this league.
“It’s a division where you can’t take anything for granted. Most people would have thought Dundee United would have gone down there and won convincingly.
“Those results show that every team is capable of getting a result on their day, so we know that we have to be ready for the challenge.
“From our point of view, I think we are playing well. We just need to capitalise on the pressure we’re putting teams under and be more clinical in front of goal and get the rewards for our efforts.
“Some people say you earn it through your work ethic and eventually get what you deserve. If that is the case, we’ll be due some points over the next few games.
“Because the players have put in a tremendous amount of work in recent matches and deserve a bit more than what they’ve got.”
Long-term absentees Lee Kilday, who has returned to basic training, and Jamie McGowan miss out, while Robert Thomson is rated doubtful due to a groin problem and Ross Forbes is still short of being ready for a return.
Gary Oliver suffered a gash to his foot that required butterfly stitches and suffered bruising on his instep in a collision with Brechin goalkeeper Graeme Smith last weekend, but he is expected to be available.
Jai Quitongo also sustained a knee injury at Glebe Park, but manager Jim Duffy says it has settled down and there is cause for optimism, but he will certainly miss today’s fixture.
Canadian central defender Luca Gasparotto has sandwiched a spell at Falkirk in between two stints at Cappielow, including a period on loan from tomorrow’s opponents.
Former midfielder Joe McKee signed for the Bairns following his release by Carlisle United before penning a two-year extension at the end of last term.
Current Ton top scorer Bob McHugh swapped the Forth Valley for Greenock last summer after two successful seasons at the Falkirk Stadium, where Player/Under-20s boss Darren Barr began his career
Current Cappielow assistant manager Craig McPherson played for the Bairns between 2002 and 2006, finishing his career there and enjoying a stint as academy director.
Manager Jim Duffy was given his managerial break at Brockville when he was handed the reins back in 1988 at just 29 years old.
In the opposite dugout is Paul Hartley, who enjoyed a month on loan with the Ton in season 1999/00, scoring one goal, in a Renfrewshire derby, in three starts.
Sat 18 Feb 2017: Morton 2-2 Falkirk (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 18 Mar 2017: Falkirk 0-1 Morton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 30 Sep 2017: Morton 0-1 Falkirk (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 25 Nov 2018: Falkirk 0-3 Morton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Last Time Out
Morton recorded their highest margin of victory on the road in 10 months thanks to a fantastic 3-0 win away at Falkirk back in November.
Goals from Gary Harkins and a Robert Thomson double saw Jim Duffy’s men win by three goals on their travels for the first time since overwhelming Ayr United 4-1 at Somerset Park on 28 January last year.
Bookmakers Coral had mistakenly listed the Ton as Barcelona B on their fixed odds coupon, and, based on this sound beating of the Bairns, they weren’t as far off the mark as the some punters might have thought.
It meant Morton had picked up four points from six in two difficult away games in the space of four days following a midweek draw at Dunfermline Athletic.
Referee: Andrew Dallas
Assistant one: Sean Carr
Assistant two: Drew Kirkland
Supporters are asked to purchase tickets in advance where possible in order to avoid excessive queues at the ticket office on a matchday, with briefs currently available for tomorrow’s fixture against Falkirk from the following outlets:
Smiths of Greenock – During opening hours, 9am – 5.30pm.
Sinclair Street ticket office – Home matchdays, from 11am to 3pm.
Match tickets can also be purchased in advance online at www.gmfctickets.co.uk or by calling the club on 01475 723571. These can collected at the ticket office on matchday or posted out, for which there is a £2 charge.
All three upcoming home fixtures can also be pre-loaded to fan cards on Interstadia’s dedicated club website, www.gmfctickets.co.uk.
Tickets purchased after 1pm on a matchday are priced at:
Adults – £20*
Concessions – £15
Children aged 12-16 – £5
Children under 12^ – Free
*£2 from each adult admission will be invested directly into our youth development programme.
^ Children under 12 who do not have a season card or fan card will be required to collect a match ticket from our ticket office on the day of the game and must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
However, fans who purchase tickets in advance – prior to 1pm on matchday – will enjoy a freeze upon last year’s pay-at-the-gate prices and these are:
Adults – £18
Concessions – £15
Children aged 12-16 – £5
Children under 12^ – Free
Club safety officer James McLaughlin has confirmed the situation involving Sinclair Street has now been resolved and will be closed as previously and the car park will re-open with the fee of £3. See here for details.
Image: Ross Cameron