By David Buick
The Honest Men are the only side to beat Premiership opposition in fourth round competition after every other side top tier side progressed. That could change, however, as Hibs are still to take on Championship rivals Dundee United.
It’s a good result for Mark Kerr’s side whilst the Staggies have been left with some thinking to do. Here are three things we learned.
Ayr compete well with Premiership opposition
Ayr United for the second season in a row are pushing for promotion from the Championship and on today’s showing they will feel more than confident that they can make the jump to the Premiership.
Ross County were last season’s Championship winners and currently sit eighth in the Premiership. Ayr will feel that they more than matched the Dingwall side. Ayr, in the first half especially, looked calm and assured in possession and scored a good goal.
In the second half admittedly County had more of the ball and put the pressure on, but the Ayr backline showed their quality and remained resolute. If the Honest men can maintain this high level of performance for the rest of the season, they will fancy themselves to have a good crack at the promotion playoffs.
Ayr coaching staff win second half tactical battle
This game had a very interesting dynamic as Ross County had two managers in the dugout in Steve Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell whilst Ayr had none with their gaffer Kerr in central midfield for the Honest Men. However it was Kerr and his coaching outfit that managed to win the tactical battle in the second half.
Brian Graham and Billy McKay were introduced for the Staggies as the Highlanders went with three strikers to try and get themselves back in the game. Ayr countered this by introducing Sam Roscoe and moving to five at the back with just Aaron Drinan in attack and it proved to be a smart move from the Ayr coaching staff.
Not only were the Ayr defence solid in maintaining their clean sheet, Drinan used his pace and strength well to effectively play the lone striker role, operating as a very useful out ball for the Honest Men.
Donaldson looks to be a good acquisition for County
One positive for Ross County would have to be the performance of new signing Coll Donaldson at the back.
Arriving from Highland rivals Inverness during the week, Donaldson came straight into the starting line-up alongside captain Liam Fontaine. Donaldson look assured in possession, on a number of occasions moving out of defence into midfield with the ball. As well as being comfortable on the ball, Donaldson also looked very dominant in the Ayr working well to deal with high balls from Ayr.
The Ross County management team will be hoping for more of the same from their new man between now and the end of the season.