IT IS ALMOST certainly a measure of the discipline infusing yesterday’s staunch defensive display, but trying to wheedle out some kind of quote regarding season’s prospects at Ross County has been like pulling teeth of late.
Just as they were regimented in resisting Partick Thistle’s desperate late onslaught, so too are the Dingwall players, to a man, stubbornly keeping mum about league ambitions. Understandably perhaps, given the trials of last season’s relegation close call, nobody is looking too far ahead, publicly at least.
But it is a mark of just how optimistically the Staggies have started season 2015-16 that points on the board now match the tally they had accrued by late January last term.
If one of the characteristics required by prospective top-six sides is an ability to grind out victory from a spectacle as poor as this, County showed that attribute in abundance seven days after losing a late one to Motherwell.
Manager Jim McIntyre, having watched Liam Boyce light up the afternoon with his sixth goal of the season, revealed victory had been achieved in spite of a sickness bug sweeping through the camp. “Today, we’ve won the match by grinding it out – I don’t think there was great play from either side,” McIntyre said.
“It was a battle. We knew Thistle would be scrapping for everything and trying to get that all-important first goal, which we managed to get.
“We got off to a good start, but we were quite wasteful in possession. It became a bit scrappy, but you’re not always going to get games where you play flowing football. It’s important, when it is like that, you dig in.
“We were looking to be far more consistent. It is alright talking about it, but you have to go and earn it. It has been a good start and we’ll just take it one game at a time.”
It quickly shaped up as fierce physical scrap and, just as Partick seemed ready to offer a threat, the County breakthrough materialised.
It was a fine finish after 18 minutes, although Partick might well want to look at their defensive positioning.
Jamie Reckord’s long cross from deep left swirled high into the box and Liam Boyce sneaked in un-marked to smash an eight-yard header past helpless Tomas Cerny.
The away side, though, produced a great chance soon after with a great piece of vision from Steven Lawless.
Lawless’s long, angled through pass sent Sean Welsh tearing towards the right edge of the box.
There wasn’t much wrong with the midfielder’s sharply-struck low drive towards the bottom left hand corner but ex-Partick keeper Scott Fox dived superbly to push the ball away.
Barring one or two close calls, most of the second-half action and intensity was crammed into the final, fraught moments when substitute Robbie Muirhead missed a couple of chances and Steven Lawless another.
Away manager Alan Archibald stressed: “I’ve said to the lads, they can’t feel sorry for themselves. They have to show character individually and collectively to go and get those elusive goals.”