MORTON versus St Mirren
Tuesday 1 November 2016
Cappielow Park, Greenock
As McTear’s specialist graphic designer Paul Brannan’s fantastic artwork boldly states, after 17 years of waiting, it’s time to settle the score.
Tonight Morton and St Mirren square off at Cappielow in the second Renfrewshire derby of the season, which is being staged in midweek under the floodlights after our Betfred Cup semi-final against Aberdeen forced the fixture to be rescheduled.
The Sinclair Street side are without a win against their arch-rivals since Saturday 10 April 1999, when a sensational Kevin Thomas hat-trick fired 10-man Ton to a memorable 5-1 win at Love Street.
While 17 years have come and gone since that last derby success, most of the intervening period has been spent in different divisions and our barren run stands at 12 matches, with five of those staged between this season and last.
After 15 years of separation, the clubs renewed league hostilities last term – but despite dominating two of the four meetings and finishing above the Saints in the table, the Ton drew two and lost two.
This term they were seven minutes from ending that long-running hoodoo until John Sutton popped with a heartbreaking late equaliser to rule out Thomas O’Ware’s headed opener and snatch a point.
At present, the Saints are struggling at the bottom of the table without a Championship win to their name whilst the Ton are in strong form, having won five of their last seven matches and unbeaten at home.
The signs would suggest there is as good a chance as any for the score to be settled tonight, but as the old cliché goes, the form book goes out the window when it comes to a local derby.
Jim Duffy told gmfc.net: “You always look forward to the derbies. You get a few more people through the gates and bit more atmosphere. These are the kinds of games you should enjoy being involved in.
“The players will be up for the game and we’ll see how we perform tonight. St Mirren could be looking at the derby as the chance to use it as a springboard to gain confidence.
“That’s the case with any game of football, but particularly with a derby. If you can win in a derby then it means you get that lift and that belief, and the atmosphere amongst the supporters can change.
“But I can’t concern myself with how it might work for St Mirren; it’s about how it works for us. We want to keep our performances to the levels they’ve been at over recent weeks and keep that consistency and keep our standards up.
“The derby means a lot to a lot of people and it’s important that players realise it. At the end of the day, managers will always say it’s only three points at stake, and that’s true, but to supporters there’s that passion to it.
“For the players it’s about maintaining the same level of concentration no matter the opposition. All you can try and do is focus on the game and win the one in front of you.
“What has gone on in the past has gone – it’s not about dates, and times and records. If you start thinking it will mean something extra special or ‘we really need to try and get this this win’ all that does is make it more difficult for you.
“You’ve got enough on your plate just trying to win the game without worrying what it might mean beyond that. There’s enough about a derby without taking on extra responsibility.
“What’s important to me, and what’s important to the players is to perform the standard we’re capable of performing to. If we do that we’ll see if that’s good enough on the night.”
Long-term absentee Conor Pepper remains sidelined with the after effects of the knee problem that has plagued him since the Hibs game at Easter Road back on 24 February.
On the positive front, experienced central defender Gavin Gunning is expected to be available for selection again after missing Saturday’s 2-1 win over Ayr United due to a continuing hamstring problem, as is club captain Lee Kilday.
Goalkeeper Derek Gaston became a father for the second time on Friday. However, the new arrival was premature and the baby is expected to be in the neonatal unit for two to three months.
Development squad goalkeeper Jamie McGowan and forwards Jon Scullion and Thomas Orr all came through the Saints youth ranks while Mark Russell and Scott Tiffoney started out at St Mirren Boys’ Club.
Paisley defender Jason Naismith made just three starts and four substitute appearances during a six-month loan stint here at Cappielow in season 2012/13.
Fri 20 Nov 2015: St Mirren 1-1 Morton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 2 Jan 2016: Morton 0-1 St Mirren (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 16 Apr 2016: St Mirren 3-1 Morton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 6 Aug 2016: St Mirren 1-1 Morton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Last Time Out
Morton came within seven minutes of ending an agonising 17-year wait back in August before a late John Sutton equaliser forced them to settle for a share of the spoils away at arch-rivals St Mirren.
Thomas O’Ware’s first-half header looked set to be enough to earn the local bragging rights once again as the Greenock men dominated the contest and twice hit the woodwork.
But they gradually dropped deeper to protect their lead as time ticked away and were eventually punished when sub striker Sutton, brought on with 18 minutes left, got on the end of a Lewis Morgan centre to salvage a draw.
Referee: Euan Anderson
Assistant one: Graham Chambers
Assistant two: David McKniff
Entry is pay at the gate and admission 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
Artwork: Paul Brannan