Games against Hamilton Accies are always highly anticipated, and come with a degree of expectation in the County camp. But none come much bigger than the game on Wednesday. 12th placed Hamilton Academical host 11th placed Ross County. You can probably guarantee it’s going to be a scrappy, hard fought match, with both teams throwing everything they at the game can to grab a win.
Bottom of the table Hamilton Academical will host the Staggies, in what is undoubtedly the biggest game of the season, so far, for the Highland side. With both Hamilton and Motherwell having two games in hand over John Hughes’ men, a win versus the Accies would see County extend their lead over the men in red and white to four points. A victory for RCFC would also give them an opportunity to leapfrog Motherwell into tenth place, if the Steelmen fail to pick up any points when Dundee United visit Fir Park.
The last time we faced Hamilton was a day to forget for Ross County. Hamilton travelled to Dingwall and came away with a 2-0 victory. Ross Callachan opened the scoring that afternoon, while a tidy finish from Scott Martin put the game to bed. This pitiful performance just six days before Christmas ultimately ended the reign of Stuart Kettlewell as the clubs manager, coming after a run of over ten games without picking up a victory.
However, in just game week two of the campaign, the two sides met at New Douglas Park, with a very different script being played out. It wasn’t the prettiest of games to watch on what was a scorching hot day, but Billy McKay netted his 35th goal in a Staggies shirt to secure a hard fought 1-0 victory to make it two wins on the spin.
Danger Man: Ross Callachan
Former Hearts man Ross Callachan has been in excellent form for Hamilton this season. He is their top scorer, netting six in 20 games. He also has two assists to his name. Ross County fans already know the danger he poses, with his late runs from midfield causing problems last time the sides met. Brian Rice has most recently deployed him a more advanced role, playing him just behind two strikers. Callachan has scored five out of his six goals from within the box, so could be a real threat to the county back line.
We can’t fall victim to what happened against Rangers and Motherwell, and leave him unattended if the central defenders are preoccupied with marking the ‘target man’. Marios Ogboe will likely try to take advantage of this with his physical presence, as did Tony Watt and Alfredo Morelos for Motherwell and Rangers respectively. Hamilton have the quality to take advantage of our leaky back line, so it may have to be a showing of no nonsense defending.
One to Watch: Jordan White
Former Inverness talisman Jordan White could be set to make his first appearance in the navy blue. John Hughes spoke this week in the press about the capture of White. “We played a practice match on Saturday, and he’s showing everything that I’m looking for. He gives us that focal point now that big Ross (Stewart) is away, so that brings Billy McKay and Shaw right into the frame to go and play their natural game, to play off him.” Hughes speaks very positively about the target man.
A strike partnership consisting of Oli and Shaw and Jordan White could be a formidable one, with the latter handling the physical side of the Hamilton defence, while Shaw uses his blistering pace and classy finishing to hopefully try and complement the efforts of White.
It’s back to that old cliche for Ross County. This is a six pointer. Hamilton picked up just one point available from the last nine, so will be desperate to make sure they eradicate the poor form that sees them sitting bottom.
Hopefully the Staggies can emulate the performance levels of the matches against Hibs and Abderdeen, in order to ensure that three points are picked up. It would be good to see an attacking team fielded, as Hamilton have operated with a back five in recent weeks. This could definitely be exploited with pace in similar ways to how Aberdeen’s back three was.
Let the basement battle commence!