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Scottish Cup preview: Dundee v Morton

Dundee manager Barry Smith

Dundee manager Barry Smith

  • by CRAIG FOWLER
 

When the Scottish Cup fifth round draw was made in November, Morton were third in the Irn-Bru First Division – a respectable standing after a laboured start to the season but still at arms length from leaders Dunfermline and Partick Thistle.

Since then Allan Moore’s men have won six of their nine league games, drawing two, to go top of the table.

They are now favourites to replace today’s opponents, Dundee, in the SPL and they’ve reached that positon by doing what Dundee haven’t – squeezing precious points out of poor performances.

Last Saturday, Raith Rovers came to Cappielow, outplayed their opponents in every area, yet left with nothing after a 1-0 defeat.

Morton are the only league side in British football who are undefeated away from home, a record that extends to all competitions. Embarrassment was avoided when replays were required in rounds three and four of the cup as Albion Rovers and non-league Turiff United were eventually bettered in Greenock and Morton will make a clear statement about their SPL credentials if that streak is still alive after today’s tie at Dens Park.

Dundee go into the match in reasonable form in the context of their season, having drawn two of their last three before a 1-0 defeat against Hearts on Wednesday.

While they have struggled in the top tier, they remain a cut above First Division sides, proved by a comfortable 2-0 win away to Livingston in the previous round.

After his ill-prepared squad were hoisted into the SPL three weeks before the big kick-off, Dees manager Barry Smith, left, has also been handicapped by an extended injury list that is finally showing signs of clearing up. Stephen O’Donnell’s knee injury will keep him out for the season but others are coming back to fitness.

And the return of Gary Harkins from Kilmarnock provides undoubted top-flight quality that the Dark Blues have sorely lacked.

Despite the Morton side being the second highest scorers in the First Division, Moore added Colin McMenamin to his attacking options and the striker is hoping for a first ’Ton start at a familiar ground. He spent two seasons at Dens Park before a 2010 move to Ross County and could enhance his reputation as a prolific lower league goalscorer with a strike today.

 

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