Ross Co 3 – 0 Kilmarnock
Ross County recorded their first win in nearly three months to move off the bottom of the cinch Premiership table with a 3-0 victory against Kilmarnock.
An early goal on debut from Eamonn Brophy set the scene, with Jordan White doubling the advantage early in the second half and Yan Dhanda benefitting from a major error from Killie goalkeeper Zach Hemming to make it three.
The result is County’s biggest league win in 15 months – a run going all the way back to last season’s defining 5-0 triumph away at Dundee – and their first victory since early November.
The Staggies have leapfrogged Kilmarnock in the table on goal difference, moving into a pack of four sides sitting on 20 points.
How Ross County moved off the bottom of the Scottish Premiership
Brophy opened the scoring in the 12th minute as the home side made the most of a quick counter-attack in Dingwall.
Nohan Kenneh did well to win the ball back after a Kilmarnock corner was cleared away, setting off on a run down the right side to receive it back from Dhanda.
The on-loan Hibernian midfielder then managed to pick out Brophy at the back post for a simple finish, giving County the lead.
Kilmarnock came back into it well as the first half ticked down, putting pressure on as they went in search of an equaliser.
Jordan Jones in particular was tricky to handle, while Scott Robinson had a glorious chance to get Killie back into the game only to send the ball over the bar from six yards out.
Half-time came at a good moment for County, who dealt a killer blow to their visitors at the start of the second period.
It was a similar move to their first goal, this time seeing Ross Callachan linking up with Brophy to put the ball on a plate for White to bundle over the line from close range.
County’s third could not have been more different.
Dhanda took aim with a speculative effort from distance, one that looked like being a simple save for Hemming, only for the stopper to let the ball slip out of his hands and over the line.
That put any chance of a comeback beyond doubt, with the home fans celebrating at full-time in the Highlands.
What the managers said…
Ross County boss Malky Mackay:
“I showed the boys a picture of Lionel Messi before the game, with his head in his hands standing next to a Saudi Arabian player at the final whistle,” he said.
“Then I clicked the picture and it is Messi holding the World Cup aloft, going from the whole of Argentina vilifying him in the space of four weeks to winning the World Cup.
“Things change quickly in football and I said if we got this today we’re back and it is all guns blazing. That’s what has happened.
“I’m really delighted for them and they got the clean sheet as well.”
Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes:
“We saw today as a real opportunity to get six points clear of County,” he said.
“There are certain defining moments in a season that you look back on, and we missed that opportunity today.
“We will have more opportunities, but the penny has to drop – we can’t keep not taking these chances when both teams are in the game.
“County obviously got a lift by getting themselves in front, and they were the ones who got the job done and will get the plaudits.
“We have to make sure we improve in terms of not losing cheap goals and scoring goals.
“I think we have enough about us, and I’m disappointed for the supporters because we care as much as they do.
“We came up here and trained yesterday afternoon, the boys were in the hotel, and we had a good preparation for the game.
“We’re getting paid to be up here and the supporters pay their money to be up, so I’m disappointed we haven’t given them the result we were hoping for, but there’s plenty of time to make it up to them.”
Ross County host Hibernian in their next Scottish Premiership match on January 31. Kick-off 7.45pm.
Kilmarnock are at home to Dundee United on February 1. That game also kicks off at 7.45pm.