Scottish Championship - Saturday 25/03/17 - KO 3.00pm - Cappielow Park
Odds (Ladbrokes): Morton 7/5; Draw 9/4; Dunfermline 19/10
Tomorrow's opponents have set a standard that Dunfermline will hope to emulate themselves next season, challenging for promotion in a second season back in the Championship, after a season of consolidation following promotion. Morton won League 1 in season 2014/15 and have exceeded expectations by climbing to third place this season, and with 2 games in hand on second place Falkirk, who they defeated last weekend, and a game in hand over leaders Hibs, who they play on Wednesday next week. Dunfermline will be looking to bounce back from the dismal 1-0 home defeat to Ayr United, a result which combined with wins for St Mirren and Raith and a draw for Dumbarton meant that the group of clubs at the lower end of the League table were pulled closer together.
Our opponents -
Last five outings:
11 March - Championship - Won 1-0 v Falkirk (A)
11 March - Championship - Won 1-0 v Queen of the South (H)
25 February - Championship - Drew 1-1 v Dundee United (A)
18 February - Championship - Drew 2-2 v Falkirk (H)
12 February - Scottish Cup - Lost 2-1 v Rangers (A)
With the best home record in the Championship this season, and currently joint top of the recent form table, Morton are strong contenders for not only for promotion through the play-offs but also the title itself, with a crucial game against Hibs following the Pars' visit to Greenock tomorrow. Their season began with no wins in the opening 5 League games, until a 2-1 win over Dunfermline on 17 September. The loss of star striker Jai Quitongo, to an injury sustained in the 2-1 loss to the Pars at East End Park on 10 December, has not derailed Morton's progress. That defeat is one of only rwo losses in the League in the past 20 games.
If Morton avoid losing tomorrow's game, they will complete a full 12 months undefeated at home, with their last defeat at Cappielow coming on 26 March 2016.
Morton have won 13 consecutive home games.
Morton have scored in 24 of their 27 League games so far this season.
In the dugout
A Morton legend as a player, Jim Duffy was a talented central defender who won the Scottish Players' Player of the Year award in 1985 when playing for a Morton team who were relegated from the Premier Division. Injury curtailed his career progress and he entered management with Falkirk at the age of 29. He has since managed Dundee (twice), Hibs, Brechin and Clyde, and was a temporary manager at Norwich, in addition to coaching jobs at Chelsea and Portsmouth. Duffy has a strong case for winning Manager of the Year this season, transforming his team into promotion contenders and having reached the semi finals of the League Cup and the fifth round of the Scottish Cup . This was despite enduring heavy criticism from Morton supporters earlier in the season, before leading his team to their current run of form, and remaining undefeated at home.
Pars & Morton facts & stats
Head to head record - last 10 meetings:
Pars wins: 2
Morton wins: 7
Pars Review match reports from the games between the teams this season:
17 September 2016 - Morton 2, Pars 1
10 December 2016 - Pars 2, Morton 1
Two Morton players have previously played for Dunfermline: Ross Forbes was at East End Park from January 2014 until the end of season 2014/15. He spent the second half of that season on loan at Morton before signing for them in July 2015. Lawrence Shankland scored 7 goals for the Pars in a 14 game loan spell from Aberdeen in 2014.
From the current Pars squad, Paul McMullan was at Morton on loan from Celtic from February to June last year, while David Hutton played 3 games for Morton in season 2012/13.
Here is the current Championship table:
Last five outings:
18 March - Championship - Lost 1-0 v Ayr United (H)
11 March - Championship - Drew 0-0 v St Mirren (A)
7 March - Championship - Drew 1-1 v Queen of the South (H)
4 March - Championship - Won 5-1 v Dumbarton (H)
25 February - Championship - Drew 2-2 v Hibs (A)
Allan Johnston was forced to change his starting line-up last week due to injuries to Andy Geggan and Paul McMullan. Both players are now back in training, and McMullan's call-up to the Scotland Under 21 squad will not prevent him featuring in tomorrow's game, if he is fit. Two other players are definitely unavailable - Ben Richards-Everton is continuing his recovery from long term injury and Lewis Martin is still a week away from full fitness.
The team were poor against Ayr last week, despite Allan Johnston now doing his usual revisionism as the week goes on, talking up a performance that he initially criticised a few days earlier. The last time there was such disappointment after a game was following the dire penalty shoot-out loss at Hamilton, after which Dunfermline produced a great display against Hibs at Easter Road. Let's hope for a repeat of that tomorrow.
If Geggan and McMullan are fit, they have to return to the starting 11. I would also rest John Herron and give Rhys McCabe a start.
Preferred starting 11, with squad numbers:
Tomorrow: Game Day image, then later in the evening match report/opinion with photos and Pars player ratings.