Match Preview - St Johnstone (H)
By Peter Mackay
We are back in action with another match in the Scottish Premiership, with St Johnstone being the opposition this time around. They travel up the A9 for the 3:00 PM kick-off in Dingwall, at the Global Energy Stadium.
Craig Levein is the man in charge of the Perth club being assisted by former Brechin City boss Andy Kirk in the dugout.
His side has been without a win in their past six matches, having picked up three draws in that time.
The Saints are two points ahead of us in the table on 21, whilst having played one match more than us.
St Johnstone have struggled on the goalfront this season scoring just 15 in 22 matches, so our Staggies backline will be dealing with a team eager to turn their tide on the goal trail.
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 three assists to his name this season, as well as his performances holding key aspects for the Saints, including his dangerous set-pieces.
The Staggies put in an incredible shift against Celtic but unfortunately weren’t able to take anything out of the match.
That was always going to be a difficult match, but our point on the road in Livingston will hopefully be used positively to kick on after some difficult results.
There should be a degree of confidence heading into this match considering past performances, and getting back to winning ways would be fantastic for us not only in terms of league position but overall confidence too.
Michee Efete was the only deadline-day signing for Derek Adams, and the former Grimsby right back could make his debut in Dingwall on Saturday.
Player to Watch
Simon Murray has put in a power of work for Ross County this season. The striker has been a mainstay in the XI this season, and his directness and pace have caused defenses many issues.
The power of the former Hibernian man could be the key for the Staggies in this match.
Murray staged an incredible performance midweek in Livingston, scoring two stunning goals as a reward for his mind-blowing rate of work throughout the tie.
Simon has netted on 13 occasions this season as well as grabbing one assist.
His overall play makes him stand out, but most importantly his work rate at the top end of the park is unmatched.
If the players around Simon can create some opportunities for him, the County support will be confident in his abilities to bolster the Staggies.
From the Dugout with Derek Adams - By Roy Templeton
It's been a frenetic couple of weeks for Derek Adams and all the team behind the scenes as the Staggies boss attempts to freshen up his squad for the second half of the season.
In the last few weeks Adams has done more transfer business than any other league manager, bringing in seven new players in addition to the continued loan of Will Nightingale while eight have gone in opposite directions, either on loan or permanent deals.
In the last few days of the transfer window a final newbie has joined - 26-year-old right-back Michee Efete who has latterly been playing with Grimsby - and he's likely to be included in the squad for this weekend's crunch game with St Johnstone.
Tuesday's four-goal thriller at Livingston was a case of so near yet so far as the Staggies twice went ahead, only to be pulled back twice, with the final equaliser coming just two minutes from the end.
"There were plenty of opportunities - we started well, controlled it, and moved on from the Celtic match. We scored a fantastic goal, an outrageous finish to put us ahead and we could have gone further ahead. But we didn't and that allowed Livingston back into the game," said Adams.
The Staggies boss admits that playing so many newcomers is a gamble, but so far it's paid dividends with vastly improved performances against both Celtic and Livi. But he knows it also has its downside as his newbies have to try to get used to playing alongside new team mates.
"We do have a young group now - the average age on the pitch on Tuesday was 24, " said Adams.
"But you've got to understand the game, close it up and finish it off, and with only two minutes to go, we have to do better," he added.
Holding onto to stand-in captain Yan Dhanda for the rest of the season is of course a huge boost as Adams is a big fan of the classy midfielder.
"Hearts spoke to us but never put in a formal offer, so Yan stays with us," said Adams.
Overall, Adams is very pleased at the business he's been able to do since the new year.
"I like to have fresh faces and players looking over their shoulders and it's good to get them out their comfort zone. It's important we strengthen the squad and I think we've done that in the transfer window." he concluded.
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.
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.
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.
Referee: Craig Napier
AR1: Douglas Ross
AR2: Colin Drummond
Fourth Official: Stewart Luke
VAR: David Dickinson
AVAR: David McGeachie
Scott Allardice, Connor Randall, Dylan Smith all require or have undergone operations. There is a possibility of Jack Baldwin also requiring an operation.
Ryan Leak is awaiting results on a scan following an injury picked up in our game against Partick Thistle.
Ross Laidlaw has picked up a calf injury and will miss out.
Tickets can be purchased from the following link: Ross County FC vs St Johnstone FC - MyProVenue™ (tickets.com)