Inverness host Morton at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium, in a massive game in the push towards the Championship play-offs positions. ICTFC advanced to the Irn-Bru Cup final last Saturday, with goals from George Oakley, Joe Chalmers and Jake Mulraney in a dominant first-half display. Two goals from Paul Heatley made for an interesting second-half, but the Caley jags hung on to reach the final.
Referee: Steven Kirkland Assistances: Graeme Leslie and Ross Macleod
The Manager: John Robertson
“It’s a massive game, there’s no doubt about that. Morton dug out a great victory against Dumbarton in mid-week. Dumbarton played very well, caused them many problems, there wasn’t much in the game, but this is what Morton have done recently, and that’s why they’ve stole a march on everyone else.”
“They got a last-minute winner against Dunfermline, obviously they’ve also got a late winner against Dumbarton so that’s the massive difference right now, if you can turn one point into three. If they didn’t get those two victories, then they’d be within touching distance.”
“We know we need to go and put on a good performance, to try and win the match. If we win the match, I’m sure Queen of the South and Dunfermline will be delighted as it hauls Morton back in. With the games starting to dwindle, there’s 13 league matches left, everyone of them is vital and we need to take something from Saturday, that’s for sure.”
“The matches are now the proverbial 6 pointers, it’s double jeopardy. If you win, then you’re right in there and if you lose you’re further away. We can’t afford to go 11 points behind with a game in hand at this stage, five points behind is fine, 8 points behind isn’t a disaster but we can’t afford to lose the game, we know that, and the players know that.”
Morton currently occupy the final play-off position and sit eight points above the Caley Jags having played a game more. Jim Duffy’s men are in superb form, winning five of their last six matches, beating Dunfermline, Dundee Utd and Dumbarton in the process. Gary Harkins is clubs top scorer with 6 league goals to his name, with Gary Oliver close behind him on 4.
Morton have the tightest defence in the Championship, having only conceded 23 goals in 24 matches.
Nathan Austin, Carl Tremarco and Aaron Doran are available and come back into the squad.
Zak Elbouzedi had the following to say before the game: “It’s a very important game for our season now, we’re eight points behind them after they beat Dumbarton. It’s really important to get three points because if they pull 11 points clear with 10 or 11 games to go, then it’ll be really hard to pull that back, I think three points is a must.”
John Baird has joined Morton on an emergency loan until the end of the season.
John Robertson said the following about Baird’s move: “He’s been frustrated about not playing recently and has had the opportunity to move back down to the Glasgow area, we wish him well in that respect. We’re still looking at a couple of players, particularly on emergency loan to bolster the squad because we’re certainly going to need that.”
Head-to-head: ICTFC wins: 12 Draws: 2 Morton Wins: 3
Last Meeting: Morton 1-0 ICTFC (23/12/2017)
Gary Harkins’ first half penalty was enough to seal victory for Morton, as David Raven was sent off after just 22 minutes on the clock.
Raven was sent off as he hauled down Jai Quitongo in the box, conceding the penalty which Harkins converted.
Inverness CT FC: Morton:
W Crusaders (H) 3-2 W Dumbarton (A) 1-0
L Dundee (H) 0-1 D QoS (A) 1-1
L Falkirk (A) 1-3 W Dumbarton (H) 3-0
D Dundee (A) 2-2 W Dunfermline (H) 2-1
W QoS (H) 3-1 W Dundee Utd (A) 3-0
W Falkirk (H) 4-1 W Dunfermline (A) 2-1
ICTFC (V Crusaders): Ridgers, Mckay, Warren, Donaldson, Calder, Chalmers, Vigurs, Polworth, Mulraney (Elbouzedi 79), Bell (Seedorf 65), Oakley
Morton (V Dumbarton): Brennan, Doyle, Gasparotto (Harkins 53), O’Ware, Lamie, Ross, Murdoch, Tidser, Russell, Oliver, McHugh (Tiffoney 66)