Dens Park game has come at right time, says Mark

MORTON defensive general Mark McLaughlin believes this Saturday's William Hill Scottish Cup fifth-round trip to Dundee will provide an acid test of the Ton's First Division title hopes.

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Mark McLaughlin is looking forward to facing Dundee on Saturday
Mark McLaughlin is looking forward to facing Dundee on Saturday

Allan Moore's men will head to Dens Park to face a Dark Blues side who were essentially assembled for a Division One title bid only to be handed the opportunity to step up to the top tier after the demise of the old Rangers.

As such man-mountain McLaughlin reckons that success in Tayside would provide a huge boost to the Cappielow club's own promotion charge with the Ton currently five points clear of second placed Partick Thistle.

Marko said: "I think this cup-tie has come at the right time for us. Although we have been winning consistently in the league and have opened up a five-point gap, we have not been playing as well as we would have liked of late.

"So it is nice to be looking at the cup-tie with Dundee and having a fresh challenge in front of us. It will also give us a gauge of where we are right now.

"Obviously there team was assembled for a First Division campaign only for the Rangers situation to have them pole vault into the SPL.

"But they had assembled a side of experienced, good quality First Division pros and they have also added the likes of Brian Easton in recent week, who I know well from my time at Hamilton, so we are going to no exactly where we are as a side come tea time on Saturday.

"But while we accept that Dundee are favourites we have plenty of confidence in our ability to get a result there. I think we have played 10 games away from home in the First Division and are yet to be beaten. So that does give us plenty of belief."

Dundee have been operating with four strikers in recent weeks and the 37-year-old knows that his centre-back partnership with Kevin Rutkiewicz will be tested on Tayside this weekend.

McLaughlin said: "Apparently of late Dundee have been really going for it and playing a 4-2-4 formation with the likes of Colin Nish, Stevie Milne, Mark Stewart and John Baird all in offensive positions. So that is going to make for a very busy afternoon for myself and big Kev.

"That said we have formed a decent partner-ship and have kept two clean sheets in our last three games and as a unit the back line, with Martin Hardie sweeping up just in front, is playing pretty solid.

"But there is no doubt that Dens Park will present the ultimate test of that."

There was no hiding the Tons favourite's relish for the dust up with the Dee.

McLaughlin said: "I have always loved playing at Dens Park and it is a ground that always has a great atmosphere.

"We know there will be a big home support out but we will take a good few from Greenock with us and we are not going up there just to make the numbers up."

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