First team

Match Preview - St Johnstone (A)


Written by Peter Mackay

The end of the season has rolled around quickly, and as Wednesday night approaches it is a straight shoot-out between Ross County and St Johnstone to, effectively, determine who will have to face a Premiership play-off.

Ross County have the chance to secure Scottish Premiership safety with one match remaining. A win versus St Johnstone would see the Staggies safe after what has been a turbulent season.

Ross County

The Staggies have had a rollercoaster few weeks, picking up some monumental victories over Hearts, Rangers, and most recently, Hibernian. However, that fantastic home form was broken by former Ross County player and manager Stuart Kettlewell, as they dented our form with a 5-1 victory.

On paper, that result looks much worse than it actually was. Don’s side played some tidy football and created countless chances. It was a late unravelling coupled with a Motherwell onslaught which say they go on to score three goals in the final ten minutes.

Heading into this match is a bit like a cup final for us – win and it's done. We are safe in the top flight. Lose or draw, and it goes down to the final day versus Aberdeen – as well as having to keep a watchful eye on St Johnstone’s result.

As a club, we have been in a situation like this on several occasions over the years – including with some of the current squad facing it on multiple occasions.

That should hopefully play into our favour, with the likes of Jordan White, Connor Randall, and Ross Laidlaw able to pass on some wisdom to the younger players.

Player to watch

Top scorer for the club this season, Simon Murray has been on incredible form throughout the campaign.

He has smashed the back of the net 20 times this season, including a perfect finish last time out against Motherwell.

Not only is Simon deadly in front of goal, he is one of the hardest-working players in the league, constantly charging after the ball and defenders. The former Queens Park striker is never afraid to put himself about and get stuck in with the uglier side of the game.

Murray has formed a strong connection with Yan Dhanda this season, and hopefully, we will see more goals forming from their strong partnership in attacking areas on Wednesday.

As well as goals, Murray can also turn provider, having laid up five assists for his teammates this season.

St Johnstone

St Johnstone have been in and around the same position as the Staggies all season, but at one point looked to be escaping when they picked up a run of results under newly appointed manager Craig Levien.

However, that form seems to have tailed off quite majorly – and it is now Ross County who have the upper hand in the relegation battle.

The Saints have lost their last four matches, including all three in the split so far.

They came close to a win last weekend but two late goals from relegated Livingston meant they remained in 11th place.

The Perth side currently lie two points behind County – but with a better goal difference.

Their last win came against Hibernian in a 2-1 win, similarly to us.

Player to Watch

Former Staggie Graham Carey has been imperative for the Perthshire side this season.

Playing in a role behind the striker, he has been allowed the freedom to attack and create freely – with Levein’s side reaping all the rewards.

The Ireland international has two goals and seven assists to his name this season, as well as his performances holding key aspects for the Saints, including his dangerous set-pieces.

The experienced former St Mirren man will be looking to get one over his former club, and his impressive close control and passing could certainly help him do that.

Previous Encounters

Our matches against St Johnstone are often closely contested, as the past few seasons have shown.

We have already tasted victory over the Perth side this season, defeating them 2-0 in the second match of the season. Kyle Turner opened the scoring and Connor Randall added a second with a stunning strike.

In the return fixture at McDiarmid Park, we lost out 1-0, in a match which turned out to be last in the tenure of Malky Mackay.

Derek Adams set up his side in his short tenure to do the same in Dingwall, where Benjamin Kimpioka netted in a one nil loss.

In the last meeting between the sides last season, there were six goals to be had. Jack Baldwin scored a rocket in the 90th minute, but the Saints came back five minutes into stoppage time and claimed a point.

Regan Charles-Cook netted a double against St Johnstone in a home tie in Malky Mackay’s first season in charge. Joe Hungbo added to the scoring with a stunning volley that day to claim a big 3-1 win for the Staggies.

Familiar Faces

Former club captain Keith Watson also spent time at St Johnstone, whilst current player Ross Callachan has also worn the blue of the Saints.

League Cup winners Brian Graham and Richard Foster played for both sides, as well as Staggie hero Paul Lawson.

Memorable Match

Refereeing Team

Referee: Nick Walsh

AR1: Calum Spence

AR2: Steven Traynor

FO: Stewart Luke

VAR: David Dickinson

AVAR: Ross Mcleod

Team News

Ross Callachan remains an absentee, however, he is back training. Max Sheaf also misses out as he recovers from a long-term injury.


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