With the Covid-19 forfeit wins awarded to Motherwell and Hamilton for games against Kilmarnock and St Mirren suspended by the SPFL due to an ongoing appeal, both teams had the chance to haul themselves up the Premiership table.
Heading into his first home match at the helm, Hughes was forced into two changes after a 2-0 defeat to Celtic during midweek. Striker Ross Stewart and winger Michael Gardyne picked up injuries at Parkhead, so were replaced by Oli Shaw and Jermaine Hylton.
Right from kick-off Ross County attacked with intent. Ross Draper fired a shot at goal, but it was easily collected by Jak Alnwick. Iain Vigurs floated in a lovely corner, which met the head of Callum Morris, Saints’ keeper diving at full stretch to pull off a wonderful save. Just seconds later another header, this time from Alex Iacovitti, cannoned the way of the St Mirren goal, forcing another magnificent save from Alnwick.
Ross County were dominating the first half when already booked Josh Reid found himself in a tussle with Kyle McCallister. The referee blew his whistle on the 36th minute and deemed that young Reid had committed a foul. A second yellow card was dished out and the Staggies were down to 10 men.
St Mirren played to the advantage early in the second half, and pushed their defensive line high. This opened up room for Marcus Fraser to attack. He struck a volley from the edge of the box, however, it dragged just wide.
Tempers flared for Ross County, and things went from bad to worse. Ross Draper was taken down with no foul given, to which he reacted by pushing over the St Mirren defender. Players rushed to the scene as emotions spilled over, and the referee broke it up and proceeded to show Ross Draper his second yellow card, leaving Ross County with nine men against 11.
Ross County piled men into their own box and defended with their heart on their sleeve, doing everything they could to protect the point. But St Mirren soon found their goal when Jordan Tillson failed to clear the ball on the edge of the box.
It fell to former Ross County captain Marcus Fraser who lashed it home past Ross Laidlaw, Jim Goodwin’s team knowing a crucial three points could be on their way. The Buddies grabbed their second soon after.
The ball was floated to the back post, where an unmarked Kristian Dennis was waiting. He simply tapped it home and made it 2-0 to Goodwin’s side, grabbing his first goal in Saints colours as the Paisley side move three points outside the top six. Here are three things we learned.
Bad luck continues for County
Ross County just can’t seem to get themselves out of this slump. Still without a league win since September, the Staggies are in a worryingly poor place at the foot of the Scottish Premiership. New gaffer Hughes has a big job on his hands and needs to do all he can to help Ross County get points on the board quickly.
Relentless St Mirren back to winning ways
It was a performance built on hard work for St Mirren. They never stopped running, and made sure that the three points were brought home to Paisley. Even when the game was 2-0 and won, they didn’t stop attacking the depleted County ranks. Perhaps the talk of a top six finish wasn’t so unrealistic after all.
Depleted County squad could add further struggle
Not being able to fill their bench due to injuries today, Ross County will certainly struggle to field a strong team next week with regular starters Reid and Draper suspended following red cards. This adds to the unavailable list for the Staggies, giving them an even tougher task in what is arguably a must win game over St Johnstone.
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