When Tommy Wright’s Kilmarnock side travel north to face Ross County, it will be the biggest game of the season. I have lost count of how many times I’ve delivered that statement this season, but this time round, it couldn’t be more true. For BOTH sides. This is a six pointer at its finest, that will no doubt have the eyes of thousands fixed upon the scoreline, as tenth takes on eleventh.
It has been a bitterly disappointing season for Killie, as they find themselves sitting in eleventh place, with just goal difference separating them from bottom of the table Hamilton. The Ayrshire side sit on 25 points, one less than the Staggies, but however have played a game more than the Highland side.
Kilmarnock are yet to find a win under newly appointed boss Tommy Wright, having not won a game in their last nine matches, since they overcame Accies 2-0 on the ninth of January.
A win for Killie in this one could see them rise three clear of Hamilton, and two clear of County, giving them some much needed points ahead of the split. However if the Rugby Park side fail to pick up three points, it would see them looking even more likely to end the season in one of the relegation places.
In their last match, Killie held Dundee United to a 1-1 draw at Rugby Park, as Zech Medley’s goal ruled out an early Adrian Sporle strike.
Ross County Focus
Inconsistency has haunted Ross County this season, and is one of the reasons why the Staggies are confined to the bottom end of the table. In the last five, Hughes’ men have picked up two crucial victories over Hamilton and Celtic, but suffered three losses.
The Staggies sit in tenth place with 26 points, and the worst goal difference in the league. A win for the home side would see a five point gap created between them and their Ayrshire rivals, creating some much needed breathing space.
Last time out Ross County were robbed of at least a point, after a dive from Colin Quaner and some questionable refereeing from Greg Aitken led to a penalty, which was well taken by Jamie Mcgrath. It resulted in the Saints being handed all three points.
Danger Man – Kyle Lafferty
Tommy Wright’s most recent signing, Lafferty, is yet to score under his new boss, however that is no takeaway from the quality he possesses. The former Rangers man has scored goals at every club he’s been with, it’s in his DNA. The Staggies back line could be in for a torrid time if the Northern Irishman can get back to his usual old self. Not only is he a danger ariely, but his sheer technical class could shine through and aid Kilmarnock’s desperate need for points.
One To Watch – Stephen Kelly
The on loan Rangers man had to be patient for his opportunities under Stuart Kettlewell, but since the arrival of John Hughes, Stephen Kelly has been one of the first names on the team sheet.
At just 20 years old, Kelly has been one of the Staggies top performers in recent weeks, and doesn’t seem like stopping serving up the performances. His all round game is admirable, with his outrageous technical and passing abilities, whilst he ain’t afraid to get stuck in with the defences duties.
Kelly could be vitally important for County on Saturday. If he can impose himself on the game by getting on the ball and picking apart the Killie lines with his penetrative passing, he will ensure the tempo of the game is kept in Ross County’s favour.
Ross County are yet to be victorious over Kilmarnock this season, but since the last fixture a lot has changed, including major change in the dugout for both sides.
Alex Dyer and Stuart Kettlewell have both been relieved of their duties since a horrendous 3-1 loss for County, despite having the man advantage for 88 minutes. Tom Grivosti scored a thumping header for the Staggies that day, before it all fell to pieces.
In the first meeting this season between the pair, it was honours even in a 2-2 draw. Ross Draper opened the scoring with a glancing header after a pinpoint Josh Mullin cross. Ross Stewart rescued the point with a goal from the spot after Kilmarnock had fought hard to grab the lead.
A win for both sides is crucial to how the rest of their season could play out. This six pointer will settle the relegation nerves for the time being if Ross County manage to grab the victory. It will be a hard task ahead with the undoubted quality of Kilmarnock. Both sides will be eager to protect the clean sheet, but will equally be desperate to grab the goals to sink the opponent. However it pans out, it is going to be a cracker.