This is the first match preview on the site, but with a day off work, gloomy weather outside and the first league match of the season imminent, it is worth examining what we might see on Saturday.
Greenock Morton’s starting line-up is more easy to guess than Ross County’s. Morton won against Stranraer and Alloa 8-0 and 3-0 respectively, with the same starting XI and the same substitutes in both matches.
Ross County’s first XI is more difficult to predict. Derek Adams recently stated in the press that he thinks the same 7 or 8 players will start in most matches in the season, but there will be competition for the other places.
However, given Derek Adams’s tendency to stick to a successful formula from the previous game, and based on the argument that Ross County’s second half formation against Queen’s Park was successful (with a number of caveats), one can have a stab at County’s line-up.
How both teams might start and how they might match up against each other
Some general comments on this County team:
- County finished their last match with a 4-2-3-1. Although a number of players appear out of position, the set-up looked a lot more fluid than the 4-4-2 diamond and flat 4-4-2 formations used previously.
- It might well be the best way to accomodate Brittain in the team, with crosses coming in after he cuts on to his stronger right foot.
- Craig is definitely not suited as a right-sided attacking midfieler, but if asked to do so will be encouraged to play more as a centre-forward when County are attacking, but will return to the right-wing when the team has to defend.
- This puts a lot of attacking bias on County’s left-hand side. That relies upon Fitzpatrick put in some dangerous crosses from high up the pitch, like in the second half of the Queen’s Park match.
- Duncan and Kettlewell are too similar in the centre of the park, but might work effectively in pressing against Tidser and Bachirou. This site would prefer to see a more creative midfielder beside one of Duncan and Kettlewell eg. Duncan and Lawson together.
There are a number of clear dangers in the Morton team for Ross County to beware:
- Jackson and MacDonald are both potent strikers with pedigree in the SPL with St Johnstone. They are well deputised by Weatherson and Archie Campbell, who was such a threat against County for Cowdenbeath last season.
- County will be well aware of how good Paul Di Giacomo can be when he is high in confidence. With 5 goals in 2 games in recent cup matches, he certainly appears to be confident again. Expect Giaco to attack the far post from wide-right when O’Brien is in possession on the other side, othewise he will be finding probing for space between Munro at centre-back and whichever left-back County play. If County’s full-backs get forward, as they typically do, County’s defensive midfielders will have a lot of space to cover.
- Tidser and Bachirou are now an established central midfield pairing and have the potential to dove-tail their roles quite well. Tidser has a dangerous left foot, while Bachirou’s intensity makes up for a lack of numbers in midfield when the wingers are high up the pitch.
However, the Morton team does have its weaknesses:
- A flat 4-4-2 means space for Gardyne to exploit in front of the Morton centre-backs.
- Morton’s attacking threat can be reduced significantly by throttling the possession in central midfield. Pressing Tidser and Bachirou intensely when they are in possession will cause mistakes.
- Morton’s full-backs are dependable but not spectacular. They will be unlikely to overlap the wingers. If County can leave the Morton full-backs as the free players when Morton have the ball, with the rest of the Morton team marked, possession can be quickly over-turned.
It is entirely possible that Ross County will start with an entirely different team than the one suggested above, given the size of their squad.
However, that team will be well equipped on the whole to deal with Greenock Morton’s own strengths and weaknesses. The result will be a close call.