Preview: St Mirren v Morton


When the fixtures were announced earlier in the summer fans of St Mirren and Morton were handed an early season bonus of a league opening day derby match at the Paisley 2021 Stadium.
After a gap of sixteen seasons the sides both found themselves in the same league last season where St Mirren extended their unbeaten run in competitive matches against their local rivals that goes all the way back to 10th April 1999 when Saints were soundly beaten 5-1. Since that game it has been well documented that St Mirren are undefeated in the last eleven outings including two wins and two draws last season.
Jim Duffy has done an excellent job since taking over the managerial reins at Cappielow in May 2014, winning the 2014/15 League One title in his first season in charge and seeing his side more than hold their own in the Championship last season with a fifth place finish, a point and a place above St Mirren. The Morton manager has had to contend with a fair amount of changes to his squad over the summer as he lost players such as Bobby Barr, Joe McKee, Peter MacDonald and top goalscorer Denny Johnstone who returned south of the border after his loan spell in Greenock.
But Duffy has brought in some notable additions such as former St Johnstone defender Michael Doyle, Gary Oliver who was with Queen of the South last season and a loan deal to bring in Jamie Lindsay from Celtic. It is primarily a young side but it has some experience in the spine with goalkeeper Derek Gaston, Ross Forbes in midfield, and the very creative Michael Tidser also in midfield. There are some St Mirren connections in the Morton squad with Jon Scullion who came through Saints Academy before signing for Morton two years ago and Jai Quitongo, the son of former Buddies favourite Jose.
The men from Greenock have had an excellent start to the season. After a disappointing goalless draw away to Albion Rovers to get their Betfred Cup campaign under way they made up for that with a 1-0 win against Clyde and an impressive 2-0 victory away to Kilmarnock before seeing off Berwick Rangers also by 2-0 to win the group and progress to the round of 16 of the tournament where they will meet Hamilton Academical.
Despite taking nine points from a possible twelve after last week’s 3-0 win against Edinburgh City, St Mirren still fell short by a goal of joining Morton in the round of 16. But Alex Rae will be pleased overall with his side’s Betfred Cup campaign with three wins as it lays the ground for moving into the league season on a positive note. Another positive for St Mirren so far this season has been the performances of Lewis Morgan and it was no surprise that the club looked to secure his services for a while longer with the winger signing a new deal yesterday that will see him play with St Mirren till at least the summer of 2018.
St Mirren and Morton last faced each other towards the end of last season with Saints running out 3-1 winners. An early goal from Lawrence Shankland was countered on the hour mark by Denny Johnstone but Calum Gallagher’s goal two minutes later put Saints back in control with the game being settled on the 90th minute thanks to Stephen Mallan.
It should be quite an encounter tomorrow afternoon in Paisley as both sides come into the fixture on good form as well as having opening day optimism. The stands should be well filled up as both sets of fans look for the bragging rights with Morton looking to break their streak without a win and Saints just as determined to keep the streak going.