Johansson: Players will rise to occasion

Manager Jonatan Johansson expects to see an inspired Morton side when they take on Falkirk in the Ladbrokes Chamionship tomorrow evening.

The stage is set for a memorable second tier fixture when the BBC Scotland cameras screen live coverage of the league clash tomorrow night.

Greenock gaffer Johansson believes his side will not only be energised by a game under the floodlights and shown on televisions across the country but also the opportunity to build on Tuesday’s victory against Queen of the South.

Speaking with, Johansson said: “Tuesday night was a fantastic win for us, we’d spoke before it to the players on how defining it was and they knew what needed to be done.

“Queen of the South are quite similar to us this season, they’d had a tricky run of games and obviously lost to Alloa on Saturday so they were coming down here with every intention on getting their season back up and running.

“Our players dealt with everything that was required of them and with the chances we had created I felt that we were deserved winners.”

The Ton boss made a number of changes to his squad on Tuesday night and admits that the heavy schedule his side has faced over the last week has had some impact on his team selections.

One of the changes on Tuesday saw 18-year-old Reece Lyon make his third senior start for the club and Johansson has also praised the youngster’s performance.

He said: “We changed things up on Tuesday night, some of the changes which I had pre planned looking ahead to Friday’s game.

“When you have a busy spell of games in such a short space of time like we have you need to be careful with the player’s and monitor their conditions very closely.

“Reece [Lyon] obviously started on Tuesday night and he had a great game, I’m sure everyone can see that he is a real prospect and a big asset to the club moving forward.

“It was unfortunate for him the last time we played Queen of the South, he picked up an injury after scoring a great goal and he was out for a while.

“He came back for the game against Partick Thistle in December and after that he continued to make progress and definitely took his chance on Tuesday night.

“The rest is now up to him, he will need to build on Tuesday’s performance and continue on the pathway of becoming a regular starter in the team.”

Tomorrow’s league encounter see’s the third time this season in which Morton have played Falkirk and Johansson believes his players will rise to the occasion that the televised game brings.

He added: “Friday’s game is great for everyone involved, it’s great for the players, it’s great for the supporters and it’s great for the league.

“The interest in the Championship is huge this season, there has been so many great games played and I’m pleased that the BBC are supporting it.

“There’s a different kind of atmosphere when you play under the floodlights and especially when it’s a televised game, every player loves playing in front of the cameras and it’s important that we don’t get carried away in the moment.

“Our last televised game was against Ross County at Cappielow at the beginning of the year so we’re no stranger to having good memories.

“Falkirk are playing really well at the moment, they’re undefeated in their last six games and they’re one of the in form teams in the league right now.

“I feel that we have improved as a squad since our first two meetings, we have much more competition in the team now and a lot of pace and energy moving forward.

“The first game against them at Cappielow was my first win as manager so it was a very memorable day and I thought we played really well.

“We then played them just before Christmas and it wasn’t a great day for football with neither team creating any real chances.

“Since then they’ve brought in twelve players during the January window and they’ve become a much more physical, aggressive and confident side.

“Obviously they will be pretty fresh with not having a game on Tuesday but that’s not an excuse for us, we know what we have to do and we know the performance levels we have to be at it to rise to the occasion.”

Tuesday night’s clean sheet against Queen of the South means it has been four hundred and one minutes since Morton have conceded a goal at Cappielow, the last being Aaron Doran’s 47th minute goal for Inverness in December, and Johansson has commented on the significant stat as he believes this is something his player’s can take confidence from.

He said: “One of the main things I wanted to do since I started here was to make Cappielow a fortress and make us hard to beat at home.

“Teams are coming here now and they’re having to work really hard if they’re wanting to come away with anything and credit has to go to the players for defending so well.

“It’s great that we’ve kept four clean sheets in a row at home and we’re now starting to balance out the solid defending with promising attacking play.”

Long serving player Michael Tidser recently made his 250th appearance for the club, coming on as a sub against Inverness last Saturday, and the Ton boss has taken the time to congratulate the midfielder on his achievement.

He concluded: “I’d like to congratulate Michael on making a landmark 250 appearances for the football club.

“Michael is a great professional on and off the park and has tremendous ability on the ball, he’s been a big player for this club for many years.

“He had a difficult January and would be the first to admit that himself, but he’s worked extremely hard over the past few weeks and I was delighted to have him back in the starting line-up on Tuesday”.

image: Gary Bradley