As a Ross County supporter hoping to keep the “European Dream” alive for as long as possible I could not have scripted today any better. First, fourth place St. Johnstone were thumped to the tune of 4-0 (and that scoreline could be VERY important) by champions Celtic. Then, third place Inverness Caledonian Thistle lost 2-1 to last place (in the SPL’s “Championship” group) Dundee United. The relevant portion of the SPL table now looks like this:
County are now three points behind St. Johnstone and a possible European spot and four points behind Inverness and a guaranteed place in Europe. You’ll also note that, County still have two more matches to play (the first being tomorrow against Motherwell) and therefore they could end the season with 56 points. More importantly, should County win tomorrow they could go into their final match- against Inverness Caledonian Thistle- already in 4th place on the basis of goal differential with 53 points, meaning that a win would overtake Caley and that St. Johnstone would have to beat Motherwell to equal County on points AND beat them by enough to bump County back down to fourth on the basis of goal differential. What that means in real numbers is that County would end the season with 56 points and a goal differential of at least +2 (they are currently even and two wins would mean at least +2). St. Johnstone would therefore have to win to equal County with 56 points and then surpass them on goal differential in order to secure 3rd place. In order to do that they would need a minimum goal differential of +3, meaning that they would have to beat Motherwell by 4 goals and I don’t think there’s much chance of that happening.
I am in no way suggesting that County are a lock for third place, rather, that they could not find themselves in a better spot to make it happen. In short, they control their own destiny. If they win their two matches it will take some really bad luck to keep them out of third place and Europe. In theory they can still make it into Europe with a draw and a win for 54 points but that would mean beating Caley by 6 goals in the Highland Derby, at home, on the final day of the season.
Wait, I’d actually be okay with that!