Ross County v Greenock Morton – Five Point Preview

This Saturday 21 January sees a re-visit of the opening match of the fixture, an uneventful 0-0 draw.

Here are five points to consider, going into the game:-

One: Selections

Ross County are likely to start with their typical 4-4-1-1 that has worked with success until now.

With Paul Lawson suspended for the following match at home to Livingston, there is the slightest possibility that Rocco Quinn could replace him. At the very least, we might see Quinn come on for fifteeen minutes in his place.

Steven Craig has looked quite sharp in recent weeks. He will be competing with McMenamin for a place up front. Craig might get half an hour on the pitch, as he did against Queen of the South last weekend.

Greenock Morton are likely to play a 4-4-2 formation, with a couple of potential variations.

A flat 4-4-2 would have Tidser and Bachirou competing directly against Lawson and Kettlewell in midfield, with two wide players.

A 4-4-2 diamond would have O’Brien at the tip of the midfield shape, potentially dragging County’s central midfield or defence out of position.

Two: Tidserou

The strongest unit in the Morton team is the midfield partnership of Michael Tidser and Fuoad Bachirou. Tidser is a tall, strong, midfield play-maker who has an eye for a defence-slicing pass as much as a long-range shot at goal. Bachirou is almost the perfect compliment: a tireless runner who is best at pressing opponents and playing tidy, simple passes in possession.

Although Morton might have played a 4-5-1 system at Cappielow in the last match between the two teams, that was in order to have a numerical advantage in midfield. This time, Allan Moore will be confident enough that Tidser and Bachirou will at least match the presence of Lawson and Kettlewell, so there will be a four man midfield on both teams.

Three: narrow midfield shape

Morton have recently been using a 4-4-2 diamond midfield, with Tidser and McGeouch on the outside of the diamond; Bachirou at the base and O’Brien at the tip.

Ross County will probably be hoping to come up against this set-up. County have shown how well they defend against teams that play centrally, for example Partick Thistle at home and away, as well as away to Livingston.

Four: Plan B

Ross County rarely finish a game in the same 4-4-1-1 shape that they start matches. The tactical adjustments are made either to accomodate fresh players coming off the bench, or to recover from a losing or drawing position. Likely changes are to a 4-4-2 diamond or a 4-2-1-3 formation, with Gardyne playing behind three forwards.

If Morton do start with a narrow midfield diamond, there will be a temptation to revert to a flat 4-4-2, with wingers stretching the play.

The players suited to the diamond can play a wide 4-4-2 as well. McGeouch is probably the exception to this: he is a right-sided central midfielder who will not look to run beyond County’s full-back in the same way as O’Brien would on the opposite flank.

Five: Return of Di Giac

If Morton were to play a wide 4-4-2, Di Giacomo is more suited to the wide midfield role than McGeouch. Indeed, Di Giacomo’s presence against County left-back Morrison could be one of the interesting features in the match (as it was in the first match of the league). Long diagonal balls for Di Giacomo to hold up could be the key to Morton gaining territory behind County’s midfield.

However, Di Giacomo has been on a dismal run of form since the beginning of the winter and his place in the team is not guaranteed.

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