Ross Country 0-0 Motherwell: Staggies earn point on impressive SPL debut
IAIN Vigurs is convinced Ross County can go from strength to strength and build on a good opening day performance in the Scottish Premier League.
Derek Adams’s debutants held their own against Champions League qualifiers Motherwell and grew in stature and confidence as the match progressed.
For Vigurs, a 24-year-old midfielder making his return to a level he starred at with Inverness Caley Thistle four years ago, it was an encouraging first display.
Almost 5,000 supporters filed into the impressively revamped Global Energy Stadium to witness the unfurling of the First Division title flag and County’s first steps as a top-flight team.
Despite absorbing some concerted pressure, the Dingwall outfit limited Motherwell’s clear-cut chances to a minimum and posed a greater threat of their own as the match progressed.
Vigurs, who starred in County’s run to the 2010 Scottish Cup final, said: “I thought we coped well and slowly came into the game. We built some attacks and created a few chances. Overall we’re pleased with the result.
“That is us up and going in the SPL. We have a point on the board and it is a platform to build on. We just need to kick on now. We didn’t maybe create as much as we’d have liked or pass as well as we can, but we need to start somewhere. It was a good draw against a really good side.”
Vigurs, who started his career on Celtic’s books as a schoolboy, is now looking forward to a trip to his home town of Aberdeen. He stressed: “We were just dying to get going in the SPL. We worked hard all last season to experience this.
“I’m told it is 35 games unbeaten in the league now, but I’d totally forgotten about that. The bottom line is the boys are confident. We go out on the park knowing we can get a result.
“Next week it will be a hard match against Aberdeen, but we’re not afraid of any team. The aim is to stay up, of course, but we just take it as it comes. If we’re winning more than we’re losing, then that will be brilliant.
“We need to be realistic, but we have a really good side. We need to be stuffy and hard to beat, but we also feel we can create chances and score goals.
“Every team is going to get better and sharper. Next week will be a really hard game at Aberdeen, but the boys will be that little bit more confident after getting the first game out of the way. We’ve got a point and we now know what we’re up against.”
Adams declared himself “delighted” with taking a point on his club’s SPL debut. “I thought we coped with Motherwell very well, a team that came off a Champions League game with Panathinaikos,” he explained.
“They are quick on the wings and direct. I’m delighted to keep our 35-game unbeaten run going. We are happy.
“Motherwell started well and kept good possession. They didn’t open us up and that was important.
“It was a difficult occasion for us, our first game in the SPL, but we coped well and we are delighted to get the day over and done with and a point on the board.”
While there was a party atmosphere in the Highland sunshine after the official title ceremony, the match never quite lived up to the billing. Clear chances were few and far between, testament to County’s organisation and resolve against a Motherwell side who dictated the first half.
Omar Daley and Chris Humphrey were arguably Motherwell’s best performers in the wide areas, but, time and again, the pillars of Grant Munro, Scott Boyd and Ross Tokely in particular came up with telling interventions.
Into the second half, a more even game unfolded with the best chance, arguably, falling to the hosts.
From Vigurs’s cross, Boyd attacked the ball with his head with a poor connection when Tokely was crying out for a free header.
County goalkeeper Michael Fraser’s busiest moments came in smothering deliveries from the wide areas as well as a sharp stop from Daley after 76 minutes.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall lamented his team’s lack of cutting edge on the day. McCall said: “I was disappointed we didn’t make better use of the ball that we had. We dominated possession without creating any real clear-cut chances.
“County defended solidly, but we didn’t do enough to open them up. But we have to take some positives from a clean sheet on a difficult trip to the Highlands. We’ll settle for a point because neither side deserved to win or lose.”
Humphrey is now a doubt for the Champions League return clash against Panathinaikos after suffering a hamstring problem during the match. The Jamaican international went off with 20 minutes remaining.
Motherwell travel to Athens for Wednesday’s third qualifying round second leg 2-0 down and McCall conceded: “Humphrey came off with a bit of a hamstring problem. He hasn’t pulled it, but he will be a doubt for Athens.”
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