Seventh plays fifth in tomorrow's Championship match at East End Park. Two wildly inconsistent teams with aspirations of a top 4 place meet, both needing a win to make a positive start to what will be a busy month of December.
Here is the current Championship table. Dundee United play leaders Ayr United at Tannadice this evening.
With just 1 win and 1 draw from 7 home League games this season - scoring just twice in those matches - things must change, and quickly, if this season is to be rescued from what could be a mediocre midtable slog, or an even more unwelcome look over our shoulders at the teams below. Apathy has replaced anger in the EEP stands, with enthusiasm draining with each negative home result. The Pars fans certainly did all they could to lift the team in the most recent home game, against Falkirk, but it ended in an all too familiar loss, with manager Allan Johnston repeating the same post-match comments that we have heard all too often, centering on lack of goals and failure to finish off teams when dominating possession.
Team, formation, etc
Out: Kallum Higginbotham (suspended), Andy Ryan, Aidan Connolly, Louis Longridge (injured); Mark Durnan (just returned to training after injury). Tom Beadling has trained this week but will clearly require reserve games before being considered for a first team start.
The defence will almost certainly remain unchanged but it's in midfield where there are decisions to be made. Missing 2 wingers - Higginbotham and Connolly - we may have to settle for Myles Hippolyte and Robbie Muirhead on the flanks. Both players have played the majority of their careers out wide but neither has convinced in that position - and nor have they done enough to play up front. Unless there is a change of shape tomorrow (4-3-3) we can expect to see Hippolyte and Muirhead starting on the right and left midfield.
Centre midfield has more options than any other area of the squad. I would retain the same central pairing that started at Ross County last week - Joe Thomson and Malaury Martin. James Craigen, James Vincent and - eventually, when fully fit - Tom Beadling are also contenders.
In attack (and let's hope that is the correct word to use), with Andy Ryan injured and Hippolyte and Muirhead more likely to be used as wingers, that leaves Faissal El Bakhtaoui and fit-again Aidan Keena to start. Keena was not fit enough to start last week's game but will almost certainly be in the team tomorrow. As I said last week, we are very light on decent options up front. Keena has shown promise in his limited game time, while Faissal played reasonably well at Ross County last weekend. They are probably our best pairing and will at least provide pace and movement.
Preferred Pars starting 11:
A loss, 2 wins, another loss then a draw - Morton's last 5 League results are indicative of their season as whole - good enough to stay within touching distance of the top 4, safe from any relegation worries but very inconsistent. Their most recent match, a 3-0 win over League 2 Peterhead in a Scottish Cup 3rd round replay on Tuesday, came after the teams drew 1-1 in Greenock last Saturday.
Morton manager Jonatan Johansson praised his team after the midweek win, achieved after a delay in travelling and a game played in horrendous weather: ''They showed character and put in a great team performance. Set pieces were important and we also defended well as a team.
''I liked Robert Thomson's physicality, in his first start of this season, and as a team, as a defensive unit, I am very proud. To come and get a clean sheet is very good."
Morton will be without Gary Oliver, out for 2 months with a broken collarbone. Midfielder Kyle Thomson left the club this week, having made just one appearance since his move to Greenock in the summer.