Ross County secured an impressive opening victory against Motherwell as they beat the Steelmen 1-0 in Dingwall.
Stuart Kettlewell’s men had the better of the first 20 minutes and got a goal for their efforts. Declan Gallagher brought down Harry Paton in the box, Ross Stewart firing high into the net from 12 yards out. Liam Donnelly had the chance to level for Motherwell 20 minutes from time via the penalty spot but put his effort wide. Well debutant Callum Lang was sent off late on as Ross County held on for a big win.
County had the first big chance of the game as Lee Erwin watched his header get palmed away by the returning Trevor Carson, who was making his first competitive appearance since 2018.
He made an even better save just moments later, denying Stewart from point-blank range. The Staggies had the better of the opening 20 minutes and they had a huge chance 22 minutes in.
Gallagher dived into Paton, bringing him down in the box. Stewart stepped up and fired his side into the lead with a high effort, just reward for their early play. Three minutes later and Motherwell had a chance from nowhere. A brilliant through ball from David Turnbull found Long, but he could only convert his effort onto the upright.
Turnbull was making his first start since the 2018/19 season too just like Carson and he was showing signs of the player who nearly secured a £3.25 million move to Celtic last summer. A couple of threaded through balls had caused problems.
The game had dipped into a bit of a lull, Motherwell struggling to create any real chances as County looked happy to sit deep and eat up pressure. Robinson opted to try and spark some creativity at the start of the second half, allowing Turnbull to come into the middle and bringing on new forward Lang.
Not much was happening still but they were beginning to get more of the ball, Sherwin Seedorf looking lively off the bench. But County were more than happy to hope for the counter as Motherwell offered little penetration.
Lang should have had a debut goal, combining with fellow sub Seedorf, only managing to head straight at Ross Laidlaw from just a few yards out. Robinson’s men weren’t going to get many better chances than that.
Then referee Nick Walsh pointed to the spot. Coll Donaldson brought down Jordan White with a tug on his shirt, leaving Donnelly to convert the spot kick. He couldn’t do it though, dragging his shot past the post.
That just about summed up Motherwell’s attacking efforts up until that point as County breathed a sight of relief. Things got worse for Motherwell and their efforts to get back into the game, Lang receiving red on his debut for a late challenge on Michael Gardyne.
It ended 1-0 Ross County as they got a fantastic win against Motherwell over the line. Here are three things we learned.
Ross County make defensive amends
Last season, Kettlewell’s side had the worst defence in the Premiership. It’s only one game, but the County manager will be delighted with how his new backline handled last season’s third place side.
Three of the back four were making their debuts and managed to limit the visitors to just a few chances. Things got nervy at the end as Well piled on the pressure but County held on for a great three points on their opening night.
Motherwell struggle in attack
Robinson has an abundance of attacking options at his disposal but nobody was able to make a telling impact. Whilst having plenty of the ball, there were few times that Motherwell managed to split their opponents open. They had one shot on target from 15 attempts.
Seedorf was Motherwell’s best attacking threat, making things happen after his substitute appearance. Donnelly couldn’t convert their best chance from the spot as Robinson is left with some thinking to do ahead of the weekend’s visit of Dundee United.
Kettlewell handed local lad Josh Reid a big chance at left-back, giving the 18-year-old full-back his debut. He didn’t disappoint his boss with a stellar display up against Well’s Rangers loanee Jake Hastie in particular.
The Ross County journey of Dingwall's own, Josh Reid…
2010 | Joins the RCFC Academy, Aged 8
2018 | Joins on a full-time Modern Apprenticeship
2020 | Joins the Ross County 1st Team pic.twitter.com/U5f3Zg4dfi
— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) June 13, 2020
Reid didn’t let anything get past him on his flank and he covered well in the middle when needed. A strong debut from Reid and you’d like to think he would get more senior chances in the coming weeks.