By Peter Mackay
Ross County travel to Paisley on Saturday to face an ever flourishing St Mirren side led by Jim Goodwin. John Hughes’ men desperately need to build on what was an incredible victory over Celtic, thanks to Jordan White’s thumping header, which ended Neil Lennon’s tenure as Celtic boss.
St Mirren have had a remarkable upturn in form since the beginning of the season, and are now in pole position to secure sixth spot. Despite being without a victory in their last five games, they have drawn four of those matches. The last time the Saints picked up three points was at the hands of Kilmarnock, when they defeated them two nil.
In their last match, the Buddies played out a 0-0 draw with a struggling Motherwell side. It was a display of two strong defences. St Mirren have been operating in a back three system which has been a fairly stable formation for the Paisley side. Former County captain Marcus Fraser has played on the right of three man defence, while both Richard Tait and Ilkay Durmus have looked particularly dangerous in the wing back roles.
St Mirren currently sit in sixth place, with 36 points to their name – ten more than the Staggies. With a goal difference of just minus six, it’s clear to see their morals are built on strong defensive displays, which comes as no shock with Jim Goodwin at the helm.
This will be the third time County face St Mirren this season, in games which have always proved to be a tight contest.
In the first meeting between the pair this season, Ross County pulled back a 1-1 draw courtesy of a Micheal Gardyne goal after Joe Shaugnessy was given a red card for a reckless challenge on Ross Stewart.
In what was Yogi’s second game in charge of the Staggies, the Highland side fell to a two nil defeat after two red cards for Josh Reid and Ross Draper, which came despite being the better side in the opening half.
Danger Man – Jon Obika
A Ross County defence which shut out a multi million pound Celtic attack must remain on guard to keep Jon Obika quiet. The Saints front man, who is a close friend of County star Jermain Hylton, has netted five times this season. Despite not being in the most prolific of form, his striking quality could be real danger if he isn’t dealt with properly. County can expect him to receive some quality service into the box, with wing backs Ilkay Durmas and Richard Tait both deployed freedom to deliver into the danger area.
One to Watch – Carl Tremarco
When the former Inverness captain signed for the Staggies in the summer, it was a transfer which raised many eyebrows among the Staggies faithful. Under Kettlewell, Tremarco never established himself as a regular due to the form of Josh Reid. However, since John Hughes took over in Dingwall, “Carlo” hasn’t looked back, and has been one of County’s best performers, and has easily dealt with the threat of Martin Boyle, Ryan Christie and Ryan Hedges, among many others.
Tremarco will be key in nullifying the threat of Richard Tait, whilst he could also prove a handy attacking asset if he is allowed space to deliver into the opposition penalty box. Carl Tremarco is rolling back the years in Dingwall, and is now established in the left full back role. Aging like a fine wine.
A win is imperative to both sides’ season, with Ross County looking to pull away from the relegation places, while St Mirren are eager to get back to winning ways to secure their place in the top six of the premiership.
Ross County must stick to their beliefs and tactics which John Hughes so regularly deploys. If the levels of performance are sustained from Sunday, Ross County should undoubtedly be aiming for a victory in Paisley.