Marc Fitzpatrick is determined to show Kenny Shiels that Ross County can play good football after the Kilmarnock manager’s scathing comments over the standard of entertainment the last time the teams met.
Shiels claimed the goalless draw between the sides at Dingwall on 1 September was “anti-football” and said both teams kept giving each other the ball. The result was symptomatic of the tight nature of County’s start to life in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League – their first six games only produced a total of three goals. But their second half-dozen matches have seen a remarkable turnaround with a total of 28 goals and County travel to Rugby Park on the same 15-point total as Kilmarnock.
And, although Shiels was being critical of his own team too, Fitzpatrick is eager to prove a point. The former Motherwell player said: “It was a difficult game, a 0-0 draw. We know they are good on the ball and have very good movement. We need to defend against that. It’s difficult in away games, you need to be more on your guard. They have added [Cillian] Sheridan and he’s scored the majority of their goals, so it’s another threat we have to deal with. Hopefully we can go there and play the sort of football we are capable of. Their manager’s comments the last time they played here, I don’t know if they were aimed at us, but it was a bit disrespectful. We can play football but we can also mix it up a bit.”
Kilmarnock striker Paul Heffernan is aiming to form a lethal partnership with Sheridan as he continues his recovery from injury. Heffernan missed the first ten weeks of the season after breaking his collarbone and Shiels signed Sheridan in his absence. Sheridan has scored five goals in seven games and Heffernan has been restricted to three substitute appearances since regaining his fitness, replacing his fellow Irishman in the last two games.
Heffernan, who scored 15 goals last season, said: “I missed a lot of pre-season and lot of the end of last season. I’ve been back in training for three or four weeks now so hopefully I just need some more games to try and get fit and get back in the team.
“We’ve brought big Cillian in who has done brilliantly. Hopefully we can strike up a good understanding. He is an intelligent player and it’s easy to play with clever footballers. Hopefully we can get something going and get us up the league table.”