By Peter Mackay
Another huge game awaits Ross County under the floodlights on Wednesday, as they host St Mirren. The split gives just four games for County to try and retain their Premiership status. A win over Goodwin’s side could go a long way to creating some breathing space on fellow relegation strugglers Kilmarnock and Hamilton.
St Mirren Spotlight
Despite narrowly missing out on a top six finish, St Mirren have had a very positive season, and have majorly surpassed some people’s expectations of them. The Buddies currently top the bottom half of the Premiership, winning two of their last five league games.
Last time out, the Saints claimed their spot in the next round of the Scottish Cup with a 2-1 victory over Staggies rivals Inverness Caley Thistle. Former County captain Marcus Fraser netted an 89th minute winner to sink McCanns’ men.
Jim Goodwin has settled his side by operating in a 3-5-2 system, with attacking wing backs being Ilkay Durmus on the left, whilst switching between Dylan Connolly and Richard Tait to fill the right wing-back role.
Danger Man: Dylan Connolly
Irish winger Dylan Connolly has caused panic amongst every defence he has faced this season. His frightening speed is a real weapon, and could cause massive damage to the County back line if he isn’t stopped. Whether he is playing as winger or a wing-back, he will always look to go beyond his man and deliver into a hungry strike force of Jon Obika and Kristian Dennis.
Ross County Spotlight
With just one win in their last five matches, which included an embarrassing defeat to Championship side Inverness, the Staggies have had a slight dip in form since Hughes first arrived in Dingwall.
The Staggies sit in tenth place in the table, one point above Kilmarnock who occupy the play-off place, and three points ahead of 12th place Hamilton Accies. A victory over the Buddies could create a potential three point gap over KIllie, while increasing the gap with Accies to six points.
Last time out, Ross County fought back from behind on two occasions to grab a crucial point at Rugby Park. County gave away two early goals courtesy of some sloppy defending, but goals from Micheal Gardyne and Alex Iacovitti were enough to rescue the point.
One to Watch: Billy Mckay
Just as he did before last season’s early shutdown, experienced striker Billy Mckay has hit a timely goal scoring run for Ross County as the season draws to a close. The Northern Irishman has been on fantastic form under Yogi, with four goals in his last eight matches. Mckay also notched a fantastic assist vs Kilmarnock last time out. If the forward has good service provided to him, it’s inevitable that he will be in amongst the goals for the Staggies.
I don’t expect John Hughes to change shape, however it’s almost impossible to guess the team he is going to pick. The only change I would forecast is Harry Paton entering the frame in place of Jordan Tillson, after the Canadian had a major impact coming from the bench at Rugby Park.
St Mirren have had strong performances using a back three, so will most likely stick with that system.