MORTON versus Falkirk
Saturday 21 January 2017
Cappielow Park, Greenock
Third and fourth in the Championship face off at Cappielow tomorrow as Morton and Falkirk meet in the fourth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
The Ton booked their place with a resounding and professional 6-0 win away at West of Scotland Super Premier Division outfit Beith Juniors, while the Bairns are entering this stage based on their league placing last term.
In terms of head-to-head meetings, the clubs could not be separated in their two previous encounters this term, drawing 1-1 here at Cappielow and the Falkirk Stadium.
On both occasions, Jim Duffy’s men looked on course for all three points before conceding injury-time goals to allow their opponents to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat.
As tomorrow’s clash is a Scottish Cup tie another draw would require a replay, which would be staged on Tuesday 31 January, but both sides will be looking to win the tie over the course of what should be another fascinating 90 minutes at Cappielow.
Jim Duffy told gmfc.net: “I enjoy the Scottish Cup. You’re only going to have so many opportunities to put your team in the spotlight, and this competition definitely does that, like the League Cup did for us.
“You get that bit of extra coverage and extra profile and I think the players enjoy that. It is always a wee bit different in terms of the atmosphere, in terms of it being a wee bit more tense than it would be in a league game.
“You play each other four times in the league, but in the cup, regardless of whether we know each other because we play so often, there is a wee bit more of an edge to the game.
“You may only get one hit at it and you want to make sure you’re in the next round draw, and really that’s what it’s all about, so sometimes the games are cagey.
“I think the league results against Falkirk just show you how evenly matched the teams are. It’s very difficult to call it and I anticipate an extremely tight match tomorrow.
“We’ve got to try to be as determined as we have been in the league matches. Hopefully we can do that, and if we can then there’s every chance we can be in the next round.”
Long-term absentees Conor Pepper and Jai Quitongo remain sidelined as does Kudus Oyenuga (hamstring), while latest recruit Lawrence Shankland is cup-tied after turning out, and scoring twice, in St Mirren’s 5-1 win against Spartans in the last round.
Jamie McDonagh, though, is available again following a two-match suspension that saw him miss out against Dumbarton and Raith Rovers.
However, the Northern Irishman has kept his eye in with a 90-minute run-out in a bounce game against Motherwell followed by 70 minutes up front in Tuesday night’s friendly win against Ardrossan Winton Rovers.
Falkirk’s Canadian central defender Luca Gasparotto spent last season on loan at the Ton from parent club Rangers and was a standout performer in his 23 starts and two substitute appearances.
Current Ton assistant manager Craig McPherson played for the Bairns between 2002 and 2006, finishing his career there and enjoying a stint as academy director before returning home to Cappielow as Jim Duffy’s number two.
Sat 20 Feb 2016: Morton 0-1 Falkirk (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sun 1 May 2016: Falkirk 1-0 Morton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 13 Aug 2016: Morton 1-1 Falkirk (Ladbrokes Championship)
Sat 5 Nov 2016: Falkirk 1-1 Morton (Ladbrokes Championship)
Last Time Out
Morton were denied a fantastic three points away at Falkirk with what was virtually the last touch of the ball as Lee Miller headed home a heart-breaking leveller in the third minute of stoppage time.
Substitute defender Lee Kilday looked to have earned his side a valuable away victory when he diverted Ross Forbes’ wicked free-kick between the posts with five minutes remaining but hitman Miller headed in right at the death to snatch a share of the spoils.
Although the circumstances surrounding the outcome meant that a point left a gut-wrenching feeling, on reflection picking up a point away at the Bairns should not be sniffed at particularly on the balance of play in the second half.
Referee: Greg Aitken
Assistant one: Alasdair Ross
Assistant two: Gordon Crawford
Entry is pay at the gate and admission prices are:
Adult – £15
Concession – £10
Child aged 12 to 16 – £5
Child under 12 accompanied by an adult – Free