Well, that’s more like it!
County left it late at New Douglas Park in Hamilton, but in the end they picked up a valuable away win (County’s first since August), moved from sixth place back into fifth place for at least one more week and, more importantly (to me anyway!) they moved one week closer to the halfway point of the season still in the top half of the table. I think I speak for most- if not all- Ross County supporters when I say that if you’d told me County would be in the top six when the first half of the season ended I’d be pleased, no matter how they got there.
Things did not start well for County yesterday as it was the home side that took a first-half lead when their Kosovar-German midfielder Gramoz Kurtaj converted a Carlton Morris pass into an easy tap-in, beating Scott Fox (welcome back to the side!) in the 26th minute. Kurtaj threatened to add to his tally several times in the first half but the County defense- and Fox in goal- saw to it that it did not happen.
As has been the case several times, Jim McIntyre seemed to say the right things to his charges during halftime as they proceeded to score three unanswered goals against their hosts in the second half. County began to threaten the Hamilton goal almost immediately after play resumed and the first goal came from the indefatigable Craig Curran when he knocked in a rebound that had been cracked off the crossbar from Jackson Irvine in the 58th minute. From that point on it was all County and the only question was would the second, winning goal, come. It did, three minutes from time.
Only on the pitch for less than four minutes, Stewart Murdoch banged home County second goal and it would prove to be the match winner. Four minutes after that the visitors added some insurance when substitute Michael Gardyne, playing for the first time in a month, found goal man Liam Boyce who bagged his 10th in the league and his 14th goal overall this season. Boyce is the third leading scorer in the Premiership at this point. Think about that for a minute… There’s a chance he could approach 30 goals in all competitions even if he remains in only “decent” form during the second half of the season.
Finally a few player specific notes. As mentioned, it’s good to have first choice goalkeeper back between the sticks again (a tip of the cap Gary Woods who filled in for Fox and did well), it’s good to have Michael Gardyne back even if only for a brief cameo this week. It’s probably not as simple as this, but if Midge is on the pitch the chances of County getting a result skyrocket. He’s one of those unique players who doesn’t need to score- or even assist- to help his club. Simply knowing he’s out there and that he must be dealt with results in opposing defenses gravitating towards his area of the pitch and opening up lanes and spaces for the rest of the County attack to exploit. Finally, it was nice to see Raffa De Vita back in the team again after several dominating performances with the reserve team, he too brings an added dimension to the County attack.
Finally, though he was beaten on the day, good luck to current Accie and former Staggie Michael McGovern who will likely travel to EURO 2016 with Northern Ireland next year. He did well with County and has continued to progress since leaving.
I couldn’t find a full highlight package, but here are the goals!