After their League Cup journey that had them put Celtic out the tournament ended on Wednesday against Livingston, County gaffer Kettlewell was under a growing amount of pressure, as he made several changes to his side. Oli Shaw, Keith Watson and Jordan Tillson came into the XI for Harry Paton, Stephen Kelly and Regan Charles-Cook.
Ross County had the biggest chunk of possession in the opening 15 minutes, along with the first chance of the game. An arrowed through ball from Callum Morris was chested down by Michael Gardyne, he was one on one, but dragged his shot wide. Hamilton looked to answer back when Nathan Thomas put a shot just past the post.
On the 20th minute mark Ross County broke at speed after a clearance from Alex Iacovitti. Gardyne slipped in Billy McKay, who tested the keeper Ryan Fulton, but did not do enough to put the home side ahead.
After some sloppy defending from Ross County, the ball broke in the box for an unmarked Ross Callachan, who tucked away a neat finish past Ross Laidlaw on the 23rd minute mark to give Brian Rice’s side the lead.
Shaw had a pass played through to him by Staggies skipper Iain Vigurs early on in the first half, but the former Hibs man could only find the side netting. Just five minutes later Watson played a pinpoint cross to the back post, it met the head of Ross Stewart who was unmarked, but he headed straight into Fulton’s hands.
A long punt forward by Brian Easton skewed off the head of County defender Morris, The ball falling nicely in the path of Accies number eight Scott Martin. He beat Iacovitti in the footrace, and calmly slotted home beyond Ross Laidlaw, making it 2-0.
Panic for County wasn’t over yet as Hamilton continued to pile on the pressure. David Moyo easily beat Watson by flicking the ball over his head. He fired a strike at goal but it was parried away by County number one Ross Laidlaw.
With a lack of urgency from Ross County in the final stages, the whistle was blown by the referee, Hamilton coming out 2-0 victors as Kettlewell was given the difficult news.
Here are three things we learned.
Effective Hamilton play
Accies played with real fight in this game, knowing the three points was crucial. County had the more attractive use of possession, but that didn’t bother Hamilton.
They battled hard and defended well, taking their chances when they came. If they can keep their performances to such a well organised standard, they could see themselves pushing up the table.
Ross County need to find scoring form
With only three league goals in the past 10 league matches, it’s safe to say that Ross County need goals to stay up. Ross Stewart is still yet to score from open play in the league which has been a problem for the Staggies, the striker not having much to work with.
It could be time for the Staggies to splash the cash in January to get themselves back on track, and out of the relegation zone.
Time up for Kettlewell
Without a league win since September, the Highland side have been in a poor run of form. The lucky 300 supporters who were inside the ground made their feelings known at the end of the match, with a large number of boos echoing around the ground.
There is no doubt that pressure was mounting on Kettlewell, and at the end of the game he bravely made it known that he has been relieved of his duties ahead of their next game against Celtic.