MORTON face their biggest match in several years tonight as their fight to stay in the Championship goes right to the finish.

The final fixture of the league season sees them travel up to Arbroath needing a result to save themselves from the ordeal of a two-legged relegation play-off.

They go into the game in the dreaded ninth position, level on points with Ayr but with an inferior goal difference.

Both sides are one adrift of Arbroath and one of the trio will end the evening staring at the spectre of a two-legged shootout against a League One side.

While the Red Lichties and Ton slug it out against each other, United make the long trip to Inverness as they try to stay out of the drop zone.

The situation is fairly straightforward for Ton - if David Hopkin’s side take anything from Caley, then they are going to need to win at Gayfield.

They do not have any control over the events elsewhere and may well have to cautiously assume the worst from the other match, with Inverness at and sixes and sevens in their defeat at Hearts last Saturday, a result which ruled them out of the promotion race.

Caley’s fifth place finish is already assured and they have nothing competitive to play for, while interim manager Neil McCann will have to oversee his last match in charge from the stand after being sent off at Tynecastle.

Ayr have hardly set the heather alight lately but unlike their hosts everything is on the line and it would not be a surprise to see them collect something, given the stark contrast in circumstances.

All Morton can do is set out to claim the win that would leave them assured of staying up.

 

In all honesty, it looks a big ask of them after a season which has felt like one big struggle and where they have only managed two wins on the road.

This is a squad not short of spirit and honest endeavour but the brutal truth is that it is also a group that has proved to be short of the required quality, particularly where it counts at the top end of the pitch.

The league table does not lie and Morton find themselves in peril because of their pitiful tally of 22 goals scored all season, comfortably the worst record in the whole division. We can pick the bones out of the reasons behind that going all the way back to last summer, but frankly that discussion is a moot point now.

McGinn prepared for Morton's final day shootout against Arbroath

Right here and now Gus MacPherson has to play the hand he has been dealt, get the big calls right and hope that someone can emerge as an individual hero to save the day.

He’d hoped to be going into the final game in a stronger position and with the pressure piled on the other clubs, but a costly Cappielow draw with already-relegated Alloa on Saturday put paid to that.

It was an afternoon which summed up Morton’s season — they worked hard, huffed and puffed but were unable to find a telling touch in front of goal.

When Kalvin Orsi stood on the ball and fell over in the first minute after being sent through on goal it was a portent of what was to come, and in the end they relied on a fine finish from centre back Markus Fjortoft to bail them out.

After his equaliser there was still plenty of time left to lay siege to the visitors’ goal but the home side were unconvincing and the grandstand finish never materialised.

Arbroath might be part-time like The Wasps, but they have players of much better calibre and Ton will probably have to deliver their best performance of the season to get the result they require.

While the Greenock men struggle to find the back of the net, Dick Campbell’s side have been scoring freely of late, netting seven times in their last two games.

Jack Hamilton is an obvious threat in attack and was the match-winner the last time these two met, while another player who needs no introduction is Greenock’s own Nicky Low, who has made a telling contribution from midfield since joining the club a few weeks ago.

Arbroath are strong at home and dismantled Ayr 4-0 in their last game there, so if Morton are to give themselves a chance they will have to do what they have done for most of the season, defend stoutly.

A bigger problem might be adding the other all-important ingredient at the opposite end of the pitch.

MacPherson has a few decisions to make on team selection — does he persist with the industrious Orsi up front or turn to the more technically gifted Gary Oliver, or change the set-up?

Could Reece Lyon, below, add a bit of dynamism that has been missing in the centre of midfield?

Reece Lyon

Reece Lyon

These are difficult choices but the manager will have to get them spot on and galvanise his players to produce.

Whether they have enough in their locker is arguable but one thing is certain, it is going to be a nervous old night for everyone watching online.