Duffy: Betfred Cup tie at Berwick is acid test

Jim Duffy insists he hasn’t read much into his side’s promising pre-season and says tomorrow’s return to competitive action with a Betfred Cup tie away at Berwick Rangers will be a better gauge for where his team are.

Morton have racked up the goals in their summer friendlies, netting five in a bounce game against Partick Thistle, three at Stenhousemuir, and a half dozen in last Saturday’s 6-1 win at Turriff United.

Although Duffy views those outings as valuable preparation ahead of the campaign, he says tomorrow’s tricky Group F fixture at Shielfield, and the competitive edge it brings, will provide a clearer picture of their progress.

He 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.”

The Cappielow gaffer has looked to add more creativity and flair to his squad this term, but he says it is also vital that they retain the work ethic and resilience that has become their calling card in recent seasons.

He added: “We’ve got pretty much the nucleus of the team we had last year and brought in three new signings, with Jai Quitongo obviously fit again. Jai played less than a third of the season last year.

“So we’re looking forward to trying new things, but by the same token, we don’t want to lose that attitude, that determination, that organisation and that togetherness that we had right through the season.

“I think we have to keep that, but if we can add a little bit more creativity to the team then that hopefully gives us a better balance to get positive results.”


Image: Gary Bradley

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