Photo: Lesley Fleming Photography
After two consecutive away trips, Saturday will see the visit of Greenock Morton to Stark's Park for the first time since the infamous spring of 2017. The Cappielow side will be looking to build on a mixed start to the season with two wins and a loss but should they pick up three points this weekend it would see them leapfrog Rovers in the league.
In our absence from the Championship, the Ton have firmly cemented themselves as mid-table specialists in a manner similar to Grant Murray's Rovers side: they finished fifth once and had two seventh place finishes. During this time, they saw Jim Duffy leave the club before Ray McKinnon's infamously brief stint with the club (we understand your feelings to Mr McKinnon folks). Former Rangers and Charlton forward Jonatan Johansson had a season at the helm but left the club hours before a match against Dundee United after a dispute with the board over a clause in Charlie Telfer's contract (the manager wanting to feature the player and the board stating they didn't want to invoke the extension).
Davie Hopkin has taken charge of the club and had the club in contention for promotion playoffs when the season was brought to a premature end. The Morton support will be hoping that he can replicate his success at Livingston where he built a team which consistently punched above it's weight before being promoted to the top flight.
Of their squad, there's only one player to have played previously with Raith: Craig McGuffie had a short spell on loan in the ill-fated 2018/19 season making 13 appearances and scoring 3 goals. Aside from this, Rovers fans will be familiar with the likes of Gary Oliver, Chris Millar and Jim McAllister.
The meeting should be an indicator for both clubs as to where their ambitions might lie for the season ahead: looking at the other clubs in the division it's clear Morton won't have the same firepower as Hearts or Dundee. However, they do look to have more depth than Queen of the South and have more experience in their squad (for this level) than Arbroath. They showed a particular determination last weekend when they fought back to beat ten man Ayr United with three goals in a five minute spell towards the end of the match.
To make matters more difficult for Rovers the injuries have continued to pile up. Manny Duku and Kieran MacDonald look set to miss the match and both Iain Davidson and Kyle Benedictus are doubts. Paul Smith will be comfortable knowing that he can look to Frankie Musonda and Fernandy Mendy to step but it is a frustratingly familiar situation.
Going into the match, Raith have a solid enough record winning six out of their last ten games against Morton. Four of these came during McKinnon's tenure at the Rovers including three games where they scored last minute winners. However, Morton picked up three wins from four during the Locke/Hughes era.
We contacted Morton fan Louise Rodgers to get her thoughts in the run up to the game to get her view.
What's your first memory of Cappielow?
My first memory of Cappielow was probably my first ever game, I was 5 years old and it was Rowan Alexanders testimonial against Falkirk, I remember hating every single minute of it and didn't want to go back!
Morton have won two and lost one game: How do you feel about the start to the season and what are your expectations?
I think we have had a really good start, 2 wins out of 3 games and a narrow defeat against Dundee you cant really complain about that, hoping to have 3 wins from 4 after Saturday! Before the season started I wasn't feeling confident, I predicted 7th/8th but i reckon we could be 5th or even sneak into the playoffs.
Morton have had brought in eight players including two loanees: do you feel that the squad has improved since last season?
We lost our 2 top scorers Bob McHugh and Nicky Cadden last season so it was always going to be hard without them, they were 2 massive players for us. Ive been happy with most of our signings, especially Josh McPake and Markus Fjortoft who have been outstanding for us so far, i still feel we need an out and out goalscorer and a goalkeeper but overall im quite pleased with the options we have in the squad.
Rovers signed Reghan Tumility this summer from the Ton: do you think Morton will miss him or has he been replaced?
I think we will miss Reghan this season, he spent the first half of the season with Dumbarton last season, and when he came back in January it was no surprise to see our form and defence improve, he also chipped in with a couple of goals aswell. We havent replaced him yet as we have been playing with a back 3 so far, I was disapointed he didnt stay with us but i wish him all the best at Raith!
Nicky Cadden was a key for Morton last season. Do you feel it was possible for the club to replace him?
Shankland and Nisbet aside, Cadden was the best player in the league in my eyes, and its always going to be a challenge to replace a player of his calibre, he was probably the best winger I have seen at Morton he was so direct, had a lot of assists and goals, its hard to tell at this stage if hes been replaced but with us signing Josh McPake he definitely has the potential to replace him.
What are your best and worst memories in games against Raith?
There really isnt that many good memories I have of games against Raith, I enjoyed the midweek 1-0 win which Lee Kilday scored in 2017. The one that stands out for me though is the game where we won the league there to go up to the old 1st division (even though we lost) it was just a massive relief to every Morton fan knowing we were finally going up. Bad memories? Every time we lose there but the one that sticks in my mind was when we lost 5-0 and Brian Graham scored a double in that game, was just after he left us as well, or the 3-2 game back in 2016, we scored to make it 2-2 late on in the game then Ryan Hardie scored in the last minute to win the game, sickening!