ALL eyes will be on Cappielow on Saturday as the two main title contenders, Morton and Partick Thistle meet for the third time this season. Morton won both of the previous matches and a win on Saturday would put them 11 points clear at the top of the table, although the Jags would still have three games in hand. Thistle have not won away from home in the league since September, while Morton have won five of their last six home matches – the only aberration being a defeat to Dumbarton in January.
Since being promoted in 2007, Morton have won seven of their 11 home games against Thistle, with the Glasgow side picking up just three victories at Cappielow. The Jags did win in Greenock as recently as December 2011, with Kris Doolan netting a late winner in a 2-1 victory – but they have not beaten Morton home or away in the four matches since then. Indeed, Steven Craig is the only player who has scored for Thistle against Morton since then – the ex-Ross County striker found the net in both matches this season.
At the other end of the table, there is an equally crucial clash between Airdrie and Hamilton, with both teams battling to stay in the division. Airdrie have slumped to the bottom of the division, winning just one of their last thirteen matches. They have not won at home since the opening day of the season, a run of 11 matches without success at New Broomfield.
Accies, meanwhile, have lost their last two matches and as a result they find themselves in eighth position and only out of the play-off place on goal difference. Billy Reid’s side have scored seven goals without reply in their two league matches against Airdrie this season, but did lose 1-0 at home to the Diamonds in the Challenge Cup. Airdrie have won just one of their last 11 league matches against Hamilton – that win came back in January 2007 when future Accies striker Gary Twigg scored the only goal of the game.
Arbroath host Brechin with both sides looking to boost their chances of making the play-offs come May. Brechin haven’t played in over a month due to postponements, which has allowed Arbroath to move level on points with them in third place, albeit having played three games more. Paul Sheerin’s side have been very impressive at home, with 23 points from ten matches at Gayfield, which included a 3-1 win over Brechin earlier in the season. That was Jim Weir’s last game in charge of Brechin – since then his replacement Ray McKinnon has won eight of his 11 league games in charge, losing just once. That home win earlier in the season was a rare one for Arbroath – they have won just twice in their last eleven home league matches against Brechin.
Meanwhile, Ayr United welcome Albion Rovers to Somerset Park for a relegation six-pointer. Neither side comes into the match in good form – Ayr have won just one of their last nine league matches, while Rovers have lost five on the bounce. The Coatbridge side’s only win since October came against Ayr at Cliftonhill on Boxing Day. Ayr have dominated meetings between the sides at Somerset Park, winning 23 of their previous 37 league meetings at home and suffering just seven defeats.
The game of the day is Elgin City‘s visit to Montrose, with both sides level on points for the play-off place. Montrose have suffered a blip in form recently, failing to win any of their last five league matches, while Elgin have just ended a similar poor run – they beat Annan last weekend having previously gone seven without a win. Elgin have drawn seven of their 11 away games in the league so far this season, with their only wins coming against the bottom two. Montrose have been almost as prolific in securing draws at home – picking up a single point in five of their 12 matches at Links Park. The sides have met 25 times in the league at Montrose, and the home side have the upper hand with 14 wins to Elgin’s six.
Queen’s Park and Berwick are also in the hunt for the play-offs, and they meet at Hampden on Saturday for another crucial six-pointer. The Spiders have won just three of their 11 league matches at Hampden this season, while Berwick have lost seven of their 11 on the road, so something has to give. The last three matches between the sides at Hampden have finished as draws, but that result would be unlikely to suit either side in their push for a spot in the top four.
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