Owen Coyle’s target is to bridge the gap with Celtic

Ross County manager Owen Coyle shouts encouragement during the win over Motherwell. Picture: Sammy Turner/SNS
Ross County manager Owen Coyle shouts encouragement during the win over Motherwell. Picture: Sammy Turner/SNS
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Owen Coyle has made a 
positive impact since succeeding Jim McInytre at Ross County but his next test will be his toughest yet.

When the Ladbrokes Premiership resumes after the international break County will attempt to do what no other Scottish side has done since 11 May 2016; beat Celtic.

Coyle, pictured, is relishing the prospect of trying to stop 
the champions and league leaders.

His side surged into a 3-0 interval lead against Motherwell on Saturday thanks to a double from Michael Gardyne and a strike from 20-year-old Davis Keillor-Dunn.

Goals from substitute Ryan Bowman and Louis Moult made it a thrilling second half as Motherwell roared back, but County got over the line to move into eighth spot.

The leaders made it 63 successive domestic games without a loss when they crushed St Johnstone 4-0 on Saturday, breaking their own record of more than 100 years.

Coyle will aim to make his players somehow stop the Celtic juggernaut on 18 November, but he is up for the challenge after losing only 2-1 against Aberdeen at Pittodrie recently.

“Celtic are by far the best team in the league, but we stood toe-to-toe with Aberdeen, who are the second best team in the country,” he said. “We knew they would have been fired up by their midweek defeat to Celtic.

“We go into the international break now, but what a cracker of a game to look forward to against the champions and the team who have just broken their record.

“Brendan Rodgers is someone I know well and I have a lot of time for him, but it’s a great game for us. Everyone knows how big the gap is, but we need to try and bridge that gap.”

Coyle has now won three of his six matches in charge.

“We are progressing and there are still a lot more to come from us,” he said. “There are things we are trying to implement to make us better. It was a wonderful three points on Saturday against Motherwell and I don’t think anyone could argue with the outcome.”

Motherwell assistant manager Keith Lasley, who was frustrated by the way they defended County’s set plays, shot down suggestions that the Betfred Cup final against Celtic at Hampden on 26 November may have been in the players’ minds after a second consecutive defeat – they lost to Hibernian last weekend.

“Not at all,” he said. “We have hardly spoken about it because we have too many big games before then. That [the cup final] will take care of itself and I am sure that there will be enough going on in the build-up week, so there is no point thinking of that at the moment.

“What we do want to do is arrive at the final in a good frame of mind off the back of winning football matches. We will focus on going to Aberdeen after the 
international break.”