County Capitalise On Misfiring Livi
Malky MacKay’s side bounced back from their midweek thumping with a 1-0 victory away to Livingston reports Angus McGregor.
Ross County gained a crucial away win in the Scottish Premiership, defeating Livingston 1-0 at the Tony Macaroni Arena. A header from Owura Edwards gave the Staggies the three points as they ended a difficult week with three points.
The home side would make two changes from last weekend’s disappointing loss at St Mirren, with James Penrice and Stephane Omeonga being replaced by Cristian Montano and Andrew Shinnie. Bruce Anderson remained on the bench despite his goal last weekend, with the forward continuing to regain fitness. Captain Keith Watson returned to the County starting eleven alongside David Cancola and Kazeem Olaigbe, with Josh Sims, Ben Paton and Callum Johnson dropping out.
The game saw a bumper crowd of 3,696 as the two clubs worked together to offer free tickets to numerous schools and sports clubs from around their areas. The game was almost in jeopardy of a delayed kick off as one of the crossbars appeared to have been damaged during the Livingston warmup, with a solution being found in plenty of time.
The first half saw a dominant performance from Livingston, with the Lions holding an unusual 67% possession and getting into great positions to punish the opponents. However, the Lions failed to garner a shot on target, despite the likes of Joel Nouble and Dylan Bahamboula threatening early on. Livi would find joy in the wide areas but lacked that final pass or were reluctant to shoot on sight.
Livi had a number of set piece opportunities but couldn’t find quality in their deliveries whilst centre backs Sean Kelly and Ayo Obileye couldn’t trouble from close range free kicks.
Livingston continued to apply the pressure to Ross County, with the first clear attempt on target coming from a well worked free kick. A nice routine saw Kelly play the ball to Nouble who played it to the oncoming Scott Pittman who forced a tremendous save from Ross Laidlaw. Laidlaw produced heroics yet again as he denied Obileye from a few yards out, with the centre half looking likely to tap in from close range.
Ross County made the home side rue their missed opportunities and showed that possession is meaningless without goals to back it up. A long kick forward from Laidlaw should have been easily dealt with by Kelly but the centre half played it into the path of Jordi Hiwula who struck the crossbar. The rebound fell kindly to Owura Edwards whose header gave County the lead against the run of play.
Desperation appeared to kick in for Livingston as they searched for an equaliser, with the tactic switching to getting the ball forward as soon as possible. This lead to numerous high balls into the box which played into County’s favour as they defended well to deny any clear cut chances from the home side. The introduction of Bruce Anderson did little to help Livi’s cause, with the striker starved of any service as the clock ticked down.
Malky MacKay’s side would hold on for a massive three points, their first away win of the season made even more important following Dundee United’s victory against Aberdeen. The Staggies host United in their next fixture in a huge game at the foot of the table. Livingston will be looking to get back on track next week as they host St Johnstone as eighth plays ninth.