No Liam Boyce? No problem. Ross County made the perfect start to life in the Ladbrokes Premiership without their talismanic striker, earning a deserved victory at the home of potential relegation rivals Dundee.
County did not feature highly on many predicted league tables ahead of the new campaign, and with good reason. Having struggled with the Premiership’s leading goalscorer in their ranks last term, how were they going to cope following his departure for Burton Albion? Not too badly, if this game is anything to go by.
“I was really pleased with the way we played. We passed it really well and we handled most things that Dundee threw at us,” reflected boss Jim McIntyre. “Liam Boyce would be a huge miss for any team, but we’ve got four really good strikers and it’s up to them to fill that void. We also want to encourage more goals from midfield. It was pleasing to get two from that area.”
Both sides had chances in the opening two minutes. Christopher Routis saw a header held by Scott Bain, while Mark O’Hara brought out a smart save from County stopper Scott Fox up the other end.
Playing with real urgency, County’s pressure threw Dundee off their stride, while also managing to establish more cohesive attack in comparison to their hosts. Michael Garydne, in particular, was impressing on the right wing in the team’s 4-3-3 formation. The No.7 went close with a shot from distance before seeing a whipped cross turned wide by Jason Naismith.
Though the home side struggled to get anything going until the closing stages, Scott Allan still looked a cut above in the Dundee midfield. The Celtic loanee was next to go close, curling an effort just over the bar from 25 yards.
The near miss did nothing to establish momentum and Dundee deservedly went behind on 36 minutes. Less than 60 seconds after Alex Schalk had a shot saved, the ball was again swung into the Dundee penalty box where a half-hearted clearance landed perfectly for summer signing Jamie Lindsay to net the first league goal of his career.
A Roarie Deacon shot forced a corner from which Kevin Holt went close to equalising, though County gave one last reminder of their threat when an unmarked Christopher Routis fluffed a volley from 15 yards.
The hosts didn’t heed the threat from the imposing Frenchman, who doubled the away side’s advantage with a free header from a Sean Kelly corner.
With 17 minutes of the match remaining, Jim McIntyre looked to shut up shop, bringing on Kenny van der Weg for Routis and changing to a 5-4-1. There appeared to be little danger of Dundee getting themselves back into the match, but that changed when Jack Hendry, on at half-time for the injured Kerr Waddell, headed home from an Allan corner.
Suddenly it was “the Alamo”, to put it in McIntyre’s words, but though several crosses were slung into the penalty area, and shots were peppered from distance, Dundee failed to breakthrough for a second time.