Dundee United versus MORTON
Saturday 25 February 2017
Tannadice Park, Dundee
Morton travel to Tannadice today to face Dundee United in their second successive top-four clash following last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with third-placed Falkirk.
In an enthralling Cappielow encounter, the Ton took the lead through Thomas O’Ware then fell behind before Ross Forbes rescued a share of the spoils with a second-half goal.
The point meant that Jim Duffy’s men remained in fourth, level on points with the Bairns, but moved one closer to the Tangerines in second due to the fact they were in Irn-Bru Cup action, booking their place in the final with a 3-2 win over Queen of the South.
A victory this afternoon would see the Greenock side leapfrog Ray McKinnon’s men and potentially replace them in the runners-up berth depending on the Bairns’ result at home to Dumbarton.
That, though, would require a side from the Tail of the Bank to buck a long-standing record that stretches way back to September 1978, when goals from Jim Rooney and Robert Russell earned Morton their last win away to today’s opponents.
Jim Duffy told gmfc.net: “I think like most of the teams we’ve come up against this year, we’ve competed well against Dundee United. And that’s just what we want to try and do again.
“It’s obviously a very difficult place to go. Their home form has been exceptional this year so we need to go up there and make sure we give a good account of ourselves.
“The first thing we want to do is make it a difficult day for the opponents. That’s the first thing you want to do in any game, and then see if that’s enough to try and get you some points.
“We played third place last week, second place this week and if the game hadn’t been off next week we’d have been playing first place. Dundee United are a huge club and therefore it’s a big game in that sense too.
“Everybody believes they are a club that should be in a higher division because of the history of the club, and rightly so, and there will be several thousand people there and that in itself is a good thing to want to be involved in.
“But it’s a situation where they are where they are and we’re there competing with them, and that’s what we’ve got to try and do. We deserve to be in that environment, and I think it’s important the players should understand that.
“The more these type of big games you play in, the more you become accustomed to it and the more comfortable you become. You also understand the demands: the concentration levels [required] and the quality of the opposition.
“You should become better at dealing with those situations. It’s not to say you can guarantee performing all the time, but you understand what’s required and the players have gradually got better at that over the last couple of seasons.”
Long-term absentees Conor Pepper, Jai Quitongo, Gary Oliver are all out, while Jamie Lindsay (calf) spent the week recuperating with Celtic and misses out.
Although Michael Doyle is available for selection after recovering from an ankle injury, a final decision will be made on him ahead of kick-off today.
Striker Kudus Oyenuga spent two seasons at Tannadice between 2013 and 2015, making one first-team appearance for Dundee United before going out on loan to Boreham Wood and Cowdenbeath.
Tue 23 Sep 2003: Dundee United 3-1 Morton (League Cup, second round)
Tue 20 Sep 2016: Morton 2-1 Dundee United (League Cup, quarter-finals)
Sat 24 Sep 2016: Dundee United 2-1 Morton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 19 Nov 2016: Morton 0-0 Dundee United (Ladbrokes Championship)
Last Time Out
Despite the stalemate this was a fascinating and at times pulsating 90 minutes in which the teams cancelled each other out for the most part before sponsors’ man of the match Derek Gaston produced a hat-trick of fine saves to claim a valuable point.
The share of the spoils saw the Ton extend their unbeaten run to seven league matches and preserve a home record that has seen them avoid defeat on Sinclair Street since losing 1-0 to Raith Rovers way back on Saturday 26 March.
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Assistant one: Alastair Mather
Assistant two: Chris Phillips
Entry is pay at the gate and admission prices are:
Adult – £20
Concession – £10
Image: David Bell