Mid-term report: Ross County are flying high

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County may be riding a wave but there are still one or two things the Highlanders could improve upon, writes Ieuan Williams

Attack

The goals of Liam Boyce, left, have fired County into the top six. Picture: Michael Gillen

The goals of Liam Boyce, left, have fired County into the top six. Picture: Michael Gillen

A number of Premiership clubs would covet the strike-force that Jim McIntyre has at his disposal. The trio of Liam Boyce, Craig Curran and Brian Graham is one of great quality. Boyce has already netted 11 times in all competitions with Curran and Graham netting three apiece.

Unfortunately, Graham will be out of action for a few weeks through injury, as will wide-man Michael Gardyne. Creating opportunities for the unknown quantity, Alex Schalk, and the tricky Jonathan Franks – a player the County fans would like to see a lot more of.

Defence

Whilst Andrew Davies was deemed to be one the coups of the summer in Scotland, it’s Chris Robertson who has been consistency solid at the back for County. The ex-Port Vale centre-back is commanding in the air and assured on the ball and I feel his importance has been overshadowed by the County captain. Davies is an excellent leader on the pitch and his reading of the game is second to none, but his lack of pace and enthusiasm for getting stuck in has led to two penalties and a red card - albeit a controversial one.

As for the full-backs, Ricky Foster was supposed to be a dud who’d warm the bench every week, this hasn’t been the case, and rightfully so. His versatility has dislodged a struggling Jamie Reckord on occasions and when going forward he can’t be faulted, with his crossing from deep proving to be a valuable method of attack. Not that this writer would encourage playing long-ball football or anything.

Star player

If it wasn’t for his recent aversion to goal-scoring, Liam Boyce would be taking this tag without question. Instead, Jackson Irvine is the man who deserves to be praised.

The rampaging Australian international covers every blade of grass and has been County’s heartbeat in the centre of the park, both this season and last. His raw power and subtle grace energises the team, especially on the counter, where his intelligence and vision come to the fore.

Manager

Despite sitting fifth in the league, Jim McIntyre deserves a slight modicum of criticism as County could easily be higher placed.

Since the 3-1 collapse against Dundee at Dens Park, County have lost four out of their last six games and will have welcomed the opportunity to regroup during the international break.

Despite the poor results of late in the league, McIntyre has guided County to the League Cup semi-final with relative ease, despatching Ayr United and Highland rivals Inverness, with a 7-0 hammering of Falkirk wedged between.

Must do better

County have struggled this season after going in front in games. When on the ascendency, they create chance after chance but struggle to kill games off. The League Cup tie against Inverness is a prime example. The game should’ve been over as a contest by the hour mark, instead, the visitors sat too deep and invited pressure setting up a worrying finish.

A few of the better players from last season haven’t hit the heights we would have expected them to with a full pre-season under their belts. Raffaele De Vita made a slow start to the campaign before his injury, and Reckord has not been his usual self.

Scott Boyd hasn’t impressed when called upon and Martin Woods is proving to be a very frustrating figure in midfield. Not to mention his insistence on taking over set-pieces, which wouldn’t be out of place at Murrayfield.