Derek Gaston would love nothing more than to walk off the Gayfield turf at 9.30pm on Friday night knowing that both Arbroath and Morton have avoided the relegation play-off.
The Arbroath keeper has an understandable affinity with Morton having played 216 times for them in seven years in Greenock before he made the switch to Arbroath in 2019.
However, for Gaston’s dream scenario to come to pass Arbroath and Morton would have to play out a draw while Inverness beat Ayr to send David Hopkin’s men into the play-offs.
In an ideal world it would be Ayr that finished 9th and not Arbroath or Morton,” said Gaston. “I don’t really want to see either team in the play-offs.”
Morton currently occupy 9th spot with an inferior goal difference to Ayr – with both clubs tied on 28 points.
Arbroath are a point ahead in 7th and could even finish 6th ahead of Queen of the South with a win.
They could, however, also drop into the play-offs and for 90 minutes Gaston will cast all friendships to the side.
“In an ideal world it would be Ayr that finished 9th and not Arbroath or Morton,” said Gaston. “I don’t really want to see either team in the play-offs.
“I was at Morton for a long time and played over 200 games for them in seven years.
“I made a lot of friends at Morton and while a lot of them have left I still always look out for their score.
“As soon as the game kicks off there will be only one team in my mind – Arbroath. If that’s at the expense of Morton then so be it.
“It has to be that way. Both clubs are down there fighting to survive and my loyalties lie with Arbroath.”
Gaston has been a stand-out performer for Arbroath this term and prior to Saturday’s 4-3 loss at Dunfermline only three sides in the Championship – Hearts, Inverness and Dunfermline – had conceded fewer goals.
Goals were hard to come by in Arbroath games earlier in the season but that has changed in recent weeks.
Their last three games have seen the net bulge 15 times at either end, suggesting the Ton clash may not be quite as tight an affair as many expect.
Arbroath battled back from 2-0 down to draw with promotion-chasing Raith Rovers earlier this month and came back again from losing two early goals at Dunfermline on Saturday before losing 4-3.
“The one thing we’ve shown recently is the ability to bounce back if we lose a goal,” said Gaston. “Our heads don’t drop. We believe in ourselves and our team-mates and that’s so important at this stage of the season.”
Gaston will be deputised by former Dundee, Celtic and Scotland keeper Rab Douglas tomorrow who will become the seventh oldest player in the world if he is called into action.
Bobby Linn and Gavin Swankie have both recovered from injuries and could find a set on the bench while manager Dick Campbell is tipping his sharp-shooting striker Jack Hamilton to make a big impact.
Hamilton has netted 18 times for three different clubs this season – Livingston, East Fife and Arbroath – and has scored in each of his last four games for the Angus side.
Hamilton has ‘genuine potential’
“Jack has been a great signing for us,” said Campbell. “He has proven he knows where the goal is and that’s exactly what we needed in January.
“His goals have made a big difference to us and he will go back to Livingston next season hoping to try and make it into their plans.
“If it doesn’t work out for him there I’d love to have him back ere on loan. He’s not the finished article yet – he could be more vocal on the pitch and use his strength more effectively – but he’s got genuine potential to go far in the game.”