MORTON versus Ayr United
Saturday 22 April 2017
Cappielow Park, Greenock
Morton look to get their season back on the right track following their recent dip in form by nailing down a Premiership play-off place when they welcome Ayr United to Cappielow today.
The Ton have stalled of late, suffering four defeats and two draws, albeit against champions Hibs, in their last half dozen Ladbrokes Championship outings.
They lost 2-0 away to struggling Raith Rovers last weekend, and they face another side battling for their life at the bottom in the shape of Ian McCall’s Honest Men.
While maximum points could see the visitors go level on points with Dumbarton and St Mirren depending on their respective results, the Ton have the carrot of securing a place in the top four dangling in front of them.
A victory would book their place in the end-of-season promotion play-offs as well as boosting their hopes of finishing higher than fourth, with Dundee United and Falkirk sat just two and three points ahead respectively.
Jim Duffy will be sat in the stand for the match after he was handed an immediate two-match touchline ban by the Scottish FA following an incident at Easter Road.
He told gmfc.net: “It will be strange for me, there’s no doubt about that. It’s unique to me – I’ve never experienced it before. I have sat in the stand for friendlies in pre-season, but generally speaking I like to be close to the action.
“I’m a very vocal coach on the side. But at the end of the day, Craig [McPherson] is there, which is important, and the players know the jobs that have been asked of them and the responsibility.
“So I don’t think it should play too significant a role in how the day unfolds. Really, it’s up to the players to go and accept the responsibility of the challenge it.
“As I said, they will be guided by Craig who I have terrific faith in so I’ve not got any great difficulties other than the fact I enjoy the adrenaline rush of being on the side of the pitch, the game and the intensity of the game.
“It’s one of those games where the difficulty isn’t just how we play; the difficulty is also in how difficult the opponents can make it for you.
“I think that has been forgotten in recent weeks, that the opposition have a part to play in making it difficult for us. Don’t get me wrong, a couple of boys have dropped their level of performance and lost a wee bit of confidence.
“But at the end of the day all you can do is try and keep working hard, and the only way you can turn it around is by encouraging players to keep trying to do the right things. If they do that I’m confident they can get a positive result.”
Jon Scullion rolled his ankle in training this week and he is the only fresh doubt for this afternoon’s match against the Honest Men, with both Jai Quitongo and Conor Pepper still sidelined with long-term knee problems.
Ayr manager Ian McCall was gaffer here in Greenock at the turn of the millennium, taking charge during a turbulent period from January 2000 to May 2000 and finishing eighth in the First Division.
Sat 21 Mar 2015: Morton 2-1 Ayr United (League One)
Sat 10 Sep 2016: Ayr United 2-1 Morton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 29 Oct 2016: Morton 2-1 Ayr United (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 28 Jan 2017: Ayr United 1-4 Morton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Last Time Out
The memorable victory – the Honest Men’s heaviest at home this season – saw the Ton stretch their winning run to four consecutive matches whilst moving them to within three points of Dundee United in second place.
Referee: Steven Kirkland
Assistant one: Alasdair Ross
Assistant two: Drew Kirkland
Entry is pay at the gate and admission prices are:
Adult – £18
Concession – £15
Child aged 12 to 16 – £5
Child under 12 accompanied by an adult – Free
There will be a minute’s applause prior kick-off in memory of both community coach Kris Juszczak and lifelong supporter Jim MacVicar.
Image: David Bell