Match Preview | Killie v RCFC
Ross County will travel to the BBSP Stadium this weekend to face Kilmarnock in the opening fixture of the Scottish Premiership bottom-half split.
County and Killie met little over a month ago and not much has changed since: both clubs still sit in 10th and 11th place in the Scottish Premiership respectively and are separated by just 1 point. Thus, the gap between the clubs has not changed since, with both teams picking up a win and a loss each over the previous month.
Kilmarnock occupy 11th spot in the Scottish Premiership and are 1 point clear of Hamilton Accies at the plummet of the table.
After going 10 matches without a victory, the Ayrshire side have slid down the table but look to have had a mini resurgence under new boss Tommy Wright.
Since losing 3-2 to the Staggies in Dingwall last month, Kilmarnock have gone on to win their next 2 matches 4-1 and 4-0. In fact, no side in the bottom half split of the Scottish Premiership has scored more goals than Killie this season (33). In addition, their goal difference is significantly higher than relegation rivals Hamilton and Ross County, which could almost act as an additional point as the season draws to a climatic close.
Killie’s new talisman, Kyle Lafferty, is definitely one to look out for this weekend. The veteran goal scorer has netted 5 times in 5 matches for his new club, including a hattrick in last week’s Scottish Cup tie against Stenhousemuir.
Interestingly, the Northern Ireland international has scored 25 goals in 46 appearances between the months of March and May over his career in the Scottish Premiership. However, he has only scored 29 goals between August and February in 121 appearances in the same competition. It’s fair to say that Lafferty comes alive in the closing stages of a season and his goal contributions could be what keeps his side up.
Ross County Focus
The Staggies remain in 10th position in the Scottish Premiership, where they have been since they defeated Celtic 1-0 at the Global Energy Stadium in February.
After 2 disappointing defeats in a row to St Johnstone and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, John Hughes will be hoping his side can kick off their post-split fixtures with a win in Ayrshire.
A win for the Staggies would lift them 4 points clear of Saturday’s opponents and bring them to within 3 points of Motherwell in 9th if the Steelmen lose to St Mirren.
The Staggies went undefeated at home against Kilmarnock this season but have failed to record a victory against Tommy Wright’s side at the BBSP Stadium. A win on Saturday would make it 3 wins in 6 matches on artificial playing surfaces in the Scottish Premiership, meaning no other club in the bottom half would have recorded more away wins on artificial surfaces than County in the league this season.
Ross County’s all-time record appearance holder and all-time record goal scorer, Michael Gardyne, started County’s previous fixture and will be hoping to extend his run in the team against his former club this weekend. ‘Midge’ spent 1 season at Killie, making 23 appearances before returning to County the following summer.
Ross County defeated Kilmarnock 3-2 at the Global Energy Stadium last time the two sides clashed. Kyle Lafferty gave the visitors the advantage before a brace from Billy McKay and a first senior goal for Leo Hjelde saw County race into a 2-goal lead. Lafferty snapped back with a second goal from the spot but County’s resolute back 5 held onto all 3 crucial points as Killie went down to 10-men in the dying embers of the game.