As with most weekends so far this season, this morning began on a train heading south.
It was freezing. If moans about the temperature haven’t already been a theme, they probably will be from this point forward.
Due to works on the line it was a longer trip than usual. Via Edinburgh and then around 30 minutes from Glasgow to Greenock.
There was a family on the train talking excitedly about their trip to the Christmas Market in Edinburgh. They were looking forward to ice skating, entertainment and nice food. Given the debate about declining attendances, I wonder how hard a choice it is between an afternoon which almost guarantees fun and an afternoon spend standing in the freezing cold, watching something which could easily disappoint.
I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s this time of year when the debate around summer football surfaces. With shopping to do and all sorts of other activities to compete with, perhaps it’s no surprise that people choose not to go to the football. Then again, football in the warmer months would compete with summer holidays and golf. I doubt there’s an easy solution. Either way, I’m sure people will always want to go to the big games.
Today was certainly one of those games. For many, this was the game of the weekend. Morton v Dundee United, third v second and two of the form teams in the country.
For Dundee United it was a big game as they finally appear to be putting together a challenge for the league title.
Morton were so close to promotion a few years ago, and they are back challenging at the right end of the table. It’s a long shot, but if they keep performing well they may secure a playoff spot and a chance at promotion.
I had seen Morton on three separate occasions earlier in the season. In fact, I had yet to see them lose. A good omen for the Ton perhaps?
Jim Duffy has done a great job, despite a less than enthusiastic response from many Morton fans when he was appointed. I wouldn’t go as far as Chick Young, who touts him as a potential Scotland manager, but he definitely deserves credit for the good job he has done.
They have impressed me on each occasion and they have a talented team. The player I have probably mentioned most on here, Jai Quitongo, is a good example. He is fast, unpredictable and would justify any moves the SFA could make to ensure he chooses to play for Scotland in the future.
I arrived at Greenock West station. That might not sound particularly unusual, but in a town with nine train stations there was plenty of choice. I wonder if there is a town in Scotland with as many stations? If there is, an important note… Make sure that if you are meeting someone they know exactly which station you will be arriving at!
Cappielow is one of those grounds which can be described as having ‘character’. The terracing at either end of the pitch harks back to a different era in the game, and the stands are built to hold a decent number of fans.
As much as I like terracing at football grounds, the uncovered effort at Cappielow was surely designed with the summer months in mind.
The weather today was certainly not ideal for standing in the elements. Credit is due to the few at either end of the pitch that were willing to endure it. They were absolutely drenched. I have no idea whether it was stubbornness, or something else, that prevented people from moving to one of the stands at the side of the pitch as the weather worsened.
I took a seat in the stand at the dugout side of the stadium, with a view obscured by several poles which presumably play an important part in holding the roof up.
Across from where I sat there is a large stand with a mixture of seats and standing areas. It is an unusual stand and there won’t be many like it in Scottish football.
While all of that may sound negative, it’s different from the new style of almost identical stadia, and it is hard not to like.
The noise travels well and at various points in the game there were roars from either side of the pitch. The atmosphere (at times) was as good as I’ve heard so far this season, which is surprising given it was a fairly drab game played in dreadful conditions.
It was Dundee United that started the brighter. In the first half they had more possession and had some nice periods of passing. However they created no real chances to challenge Derek Gaston. Morton had less of the ball, but showed they had some players capable of posing a threat to an at times shaky away defence.
That was that for the first half. Not a lot happened.
The second half was better. Morton started the half strongly and they had periods of sustained pressure, but again they failed to create any real chances.
It was Gaston in the home goal that had the biggest impact on the game. He made several crucial saves to keep his side in the game, particularly in the last 30 minutes when they were up against it.
He saved at point blank range from Scott Fraser, which was probably the chance of the match.
The second half ebbed and flowed, with both sides appearing to believe they could win the match. The Morton fans got right behind their team, and with their shouts getting louder and louder it was clear that they believed their side could win.
It could have gone either way, but the draw was probably the fairest result. The home side once again showed that they are more than worthy of their lofty league position.
If they continue to perform with the intensity they showed today then at the end of the season they just might find they have earned themselves a spot in the promotion playoffs.
Morton 0 Dundee United 0