It’s only the middle of August but Livi get underway in a third different competition tonight as they travel west to take on Championship rivals Greenock Morton in the first round of the Irn Bru Cup.
The Lions have reached at least the quarter finals in the last three seasons and, of course, lifted the trophy in 2015 with a 4-0 win over Alloa Athletic in the final, a result that paved the way for our ‘Great Escape’ from relegation that season.
Morton have reached the final once, losing 3-2 to Hamilton back in 1992, but have fallen at their first hurdle in three of the last four seasons – here’s hoping that run continues tonight!
So let’s take a look ahead to tonight’s match.
How have Jim Duffy’s side fared so far?
Despite finishing second in their Betfred Cup group, Morton missed out on a last-16 place as a best runner-up after finishing with eight points.
They got their campaign off to a winning start, returning from their cross-border trip to Berwick Rangers with a 1-0 victory. It wasn’t without fortune though as they had to rely on an own goal from defender Oliver Fleming to claim the three points.
Next up was a visit from League One side Queen’s Park, which looked set to end in disappointment as goals from Bryan Wharton and Thomas Orr had the Spiders 2-0 up with six minutes left but, after Bob McHugh pulled one back, Darren Barr equalised in stoppage time to take the match to a penalty shootout, which Morton won 4-2.
Their third match was always going to be the decisive match in the group as they travelled to Motherwell. It proved a harsh lesson for Jim Duffy’s men as the Steelmen ran out 4-0 winners with goals from Charles Dunne, Chris Cadden, Richard Tait and Louis Moult.
Motherwell won their next match to kill off Morton’s chances of advancing, rendering their final match with Edinburgh City meaningless. Nevertheless, they put on a show for their fans, running out 5-0 winners through doubles from McHugh and Robbie Thomson, plus one from Jai Quitongo.
Their League Cup disappointment hasn’t transferred across to the Championship, with Morton unbeaten after two games. After coming up against an inspired Scott Gallacher in goals during their 0-0 draw at Dumbarton on the opening day, the Greenock men gave their fans a day to remember on Saturday with a thumping 4-1 win over bitter rivals St Mirren at Cappielow.
Michael Tidser’s penalty gave Morton the lead on 26 minutes before Cammy Smith equalised five minutes from the interval. A second penalty award on 49 minutes saw Saints defender Jack Baird sent off, before Tidser swept home his second of the game to restore Morton’s lead before McHugh and Murdoch rounded off the scoring to give Morton their biggest derby win since 1999.
What happened last time we met?
The two sides met five times during the 2015-16 season and, unfortunately for the Lions, they failed to win any of them.
The first meeting saw Morton run out 4-2 winners at Almondvale. After Livi’s Ben Gordon was sent off, Morton stormed into a 4-0 lead through goals from Stefan McCluskey, Denny Johnstone, Bobby Barr and Pat Scullion before consolation strikes from Jordan White and Jordyn Sheerin.
The second meeting was far closer as an early Johnstone penalty proved the difference in a 1-0 Morton win at Cappielow. Thomas O’Ware’s goal then saw Morton win by the same scoreline at Almondvale to knock Livi out of the Scottish Cup.
After picking up their only point of the season against Jim Duffy’s side in a goalless Almondvale draw in early March, Livi suffered another narrow Cappielow defeat that left them marooned in the relegation play-off spot in April. Jordan White gave the Lions a half-time lead but another Johnstone penalty and a late winner from O’Ware saw Morton take the points.
Though Morton have largely dominated the recent meetings, the overall head-to-head is quite even. Tonight will be the 36th meeting of the two sides with the Lions edging it by 13 wins to 12. There have been ten draws.
What do the bookies think?
League sponsors Ladbrokes make Morton 6/5 favourites to reach the second round, with Livi available at 15/8. If you fancy another long night, a draw after 90 minutes can be backed at 23/10.
The last time Livi won at Cappielow was an emphatic 5-1 win under John McGlynn. If you’re feeling ambitious and think there could be a repeat of that scoreline tonight, that’s 150/1!
Who is the man in the middle?
Tonight’s referee will be Colin Steven, who we last saw when he took charge of our 1-0 win at Stenhousemuir in our first game as League One champions back in April. He will be assisted by Stephen Mitchell and Scott, with Gerry Evans serving as referee observer.
How much is it to get in?
Prices for tonight’s match are as follows:
Admission is pay-at-the gate with Livi fans accommodated in Sections F and G of the main stand. There is no need to buy tickets in advance.
The Livi Lions Supporters Club is running a bus to tonight’s match, picking up at the following times:
- Pumpherston (Cawburn Inn) – 5:05pm
- Mid Calder (The Black Bull) – 5:10pm
- Dedridge (Crofthead Farm) – 5:15pm
- Tony Macaroni Arena – 5:20pm
- Carmondean (The Saltire) – 5:30pm
- Bathgate (The Dreadnought) – 5:40pm
The return fare is £9 per traveller.
Hope to see you there!