Alright, I’ve got a large Arnold Palmer Coolata™ and an “everything” bagel, let’s do this!
On Saturday Ross County hosted their first Scottish Premiership match of the 2015-2016 at Victoria Park in Dingwall before 3479 spectators- a decent crowd given other events going on the same weekend in the Highlands. The home side did not disappoint it’s supporters, winning the match comfortably (more about that in a moment), but that is not to say that their weren’t a few bumps along the way.
The first bump came early when County goalkeeper Scott Fox took down Hamilton’s Christian Nade in the penalty area within the first few minutes of the match. The foul was more down to a miscommunication with defender Scott Boyd than any ineptitude on Fox’s part, but in the end it didn’t matter because Fox saved the resulting penalty kick by Hamilton’s Ali Crawford.
The first goal came minutes later when the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, Craig Curran, side-volleyed the ball into the goal after it bounced around in the mixer following a Ross County corner kick and the Hamilton defenders failed to clear it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Curran may not have the technical or physical gifts of some of his teammates, but if there’s a harder working player to ever pull on a County I couldn’t name him. Curran’s first goal is at the 5:00 mark of the video below.
Curran’s non-stop motor got him on the score sheet again shortly before halftime when, in the 41st minute, he took a cross from Marcus Fraser (and what a run he made to get into position to make the cross!) and tapped it past former County goalkeeper Mick McGovern. Not a bad back heel from Jackson Irvine either to keep Fraser’s run going! The second goal follows the first in the highlights package above.
Curran, obviously, made the Premiership’s Team of the Week where he was joined by the rest of the trio that created his second goal: teammates Jackson Irvine and Marcus Fraser.
The strange thing about this match is that an impartial observer might well say that, despite the two goals, Hamilton were the better side in the first half and County, despite not scoring in the second half, were the better side in the final four minutes. But hey, that’s football. On balance County were the better side and deserved the three points.
Oh, right, that other “bump” in the road to victory. Goalkeeper Scott Fox was substituted out of the match in the 69th minute with cramping in his calves. I find this puzzling given that the temperatures were mild and, well, its not like goalkeepers spend the match running up and down the pitch without a water bottle at their disposal! But that’s what happened and it gave on-loan Austrian goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann his first taste of Scottish football and by all accounts he handled himself well- good news in case he’s needed again down the road.
Now, back to that “comfort” comment from earlier. If Ross County are going to a) avoid becoming involved in a relegation battle and b) push to make it into the top six, this is the kind of performance- and result- that they are going to need against clubs that, in all likelihood are going to be involved in a relegation battle this season. Early goals, clean sheets, and turning Victoria Park into a place that other clubs- above or below County in the table- don’t want to see on the upcoming fixtures list.
County are back in action tomorrow night when they face St. Johnstone F.C., a club they will likely be competing with for a spot in the aforementioned top six.