Only the misfortune of a deflected Borna Barisic free-kick in the 75th minutes led to the 2-1 defeat away to Rangers… 10 weeks after the Highlanders were undone by the same margin thanks to a 68th minute clincher at Celtic Park. No other team among the four sides separated by only three points at the foot of the cinch Premiership - County are one point above bottom pair Motherwell and Dundee United, and two behind Kilmarnock - has run both the title rivals as close in their own backyards. And Mackay believes that will not be lost on those in his club’s mini-league.
“The group of teams we are around at the moment, in the second half of the season when you look and see one of the opposition are going to Parkhead and Ibrox, you kinda hope it is going to be four. We lost the game today but the goal difference helps us, in terms of how close the game was today.
“It gives me evidence to show the players going into the next number of games in that bottom area that we can compete with everyone and anyone. We have kept games away at Celtic and Rangers tight going into the last 15 minutes and they should take confidence and belief from that to kick on because there's not a lot between the rest of the teams.
"Unless you stand there as an opposition manager at Parkhead and Ibrox, you don't quite get the damage that can be done to you. You can come here and lose four goals going on eight so you must have tactical nous because you could play into their hands and leave huge spaces behind you. There are times when I want us to be pressing higher, but that's not as easy as just saying it. Disappointed in the little bit of fortune they got for the second goal. It was one of those things. I think it was going into Ross [Laidlaw]’s hands, there wasn't a lot of power on the shot or bend on it and the wall did what I asked of them by being strong and big and high."