MORTON versus Dumbarton
Saturday 7 January 2017
Cappielow Park, Greenock
Morton aim to get 2017 off to a winning start when they welcome Clydeside rivals Dumbarton to Cappielow as first foots in what is both clubs’ opening Ladbrokes Championship fixture of the New Year.
Jim Duffy’s men ended a memorable 2016 on a real high when Ricki Lamie rescued a derby draw with an injury-time equaliser against St Mirren on Hogmanay.
Stevie Aitken’s Sons also closed out the year in a positive way by recording a massively impressive 1-0 win over then-league leaders Dundee United – part of a resurgence that has seen them win two and draw one of their last three fixtures.
The Ton, though, are undefeated at home since March last year and will be looking to maintain that fine home record and preserve third place in the table.
Jim Duffy told gmfc.net: “In all the games in the second half of the season, we have to look to emulate what we achieved in the first half, which is going to be extremely difficult because every team will look to strengthen in January.
“Dumbarton have made a couple of changes. Ryan Stevenson and Joe Thomson are away and they have brought in [Christian] Nade, [Lewis] Vaughan, and Stuart Carswell.
“From our point of view, we’ve lost Jamie McDonagh through suspension and Gary Oliver is a doubt after taking a kick to the face last week. We also lost Gavin Gunning, which is a blow but there’s not too much we can do.
“It’s the nature of football. We’ve just got to keep working away and see what else we can bring in. We’re still going to have to strengthen to compete at the top end of the table.
“But we’re also going to have to continue to show the same determination and desire – and we’re definitely going to have to raise our game against Dumbarton because they are a very difficult team to play against.
“They are very well organised with good players who do their jobs, week in, week out – typified last week when they beat Dundee United, the league leaders, 1-0.
“So you can’t take anything for granted in this division. You’ve got to be up for the challenge and our players will have to be up for it against Dumbarton. If we’re at anything less than our best, we’re unlikely to get three points.”
Long-term injury victim Conor Pepper remains sidelined as does Jai Quitongo, who recently underwent a successful knee operation and vowed to come back fitter and stronger.
Andy McNeil, John Tennent, and Gavin Gunning and have now left the club permanently, while Ruaridh Langan and Alex McWaters are out on loan at junior sides.
However, Aidan Nesbitt has renewed his loan from parent club Celtic until the end of the season and is free to face Dumbarton. Similarly, winger Scott Tiffoney is now available for selection again after returning from his stint at Clyde.
Jamie McDonagh, meanwhile, has received a two-match suspension for his red card against St Mirren last weekend and misses both tomorrow and next week’s fixture against Raith Rovers, while Gary Oliver is a doubt after taking a kick to the face last week.
Midfielder Ross Forbes spent time on loan with the Sons as a teenager during the second half of the 2008/09 season, helping them lift the Third Division title, as did Celtic loanee Jamie Lindsay, who made 28 appearances in last term’s Championship.
Dumbarton boss Stevie Aitken enjoyed eight seasons as a player here at Cappielow, making 97 starts, 34 substitute appearances and scoring five goals.
Sat 13 Feb 2016: Morton 2-0 Dumbarton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 2 April 2016: Dumbarton 0-0 Morton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 20 August 2016: Morton 1-1 Dumbarton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 12 Nov 2016: Dumbarton 0-2 Morton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Last Time Out
Morton moved up to third in the Ladbrokes Championship with an impressive 2-0 win away at Dumbarton that stretched their unbeaten run to six league matches.
With Raith Rovers inactive, the Ton were presented with an opportunity to leapfrog the Kirkcaldy outfit in the table, and it was one that they grasped thanks to second-half goals from Mark Russell and Kudus Oyenuga.
Referee: John Beaton
Assistant one: Graeme Stewart
Assistant two: Willie Ferguson
Admission is pay at the gate and prices are:
Adult – £18
Concession – £15
Parent and child under 16 – £18
Child aged 12 to 16 – £5
Child under 12 accompanied by an adult – Free
Image: David Bell