'Positives in defeat to Rangers as attention turns to Rugby Park revenge'

Ross Morren, The County Corner

Saturday was the 23rd competitive meeting between Ross County and Rangers. In the previous 22, County have never won (D4, L18). After a positive start to the season from the Staggies, there was some optimism among the fans that it could be 23rd time the charm…

However, that optimism was quickly diminished. After a positive start from County, a goal from Kemar Roofe and a stunning strike from James Tavernier in the first half put Rangers firmly in control.

County may feel aggrieved they weren’t on the scoresheet in the first half after a controversial decision from referee David Munro to stop play and award Rangers a dubious free-kick just as Jordan White took the ball round Jack Butland and had an empty net to shoot at.

So far this season County have deployed a 4-4-2 to good effect, but on Saturday in midfield Connor Randall and Victor Loturi were outnumbered by Rangers’ John Lundstram, Nicolas Raskin and Tood Cantwell.

Malky Mackay switched to a 3-5-2 for the second half and County came out of the traps quickly and nearly got off to the perfect start.

When chances come your way against the Old Firm, you have to take them. White was inches away from halving the deficit less than two minutes in. On another day, the chance goes in and we’ve got a completely different match on our hands.

White’s a striker full of confidence just now, having scored three goals and picked up four assists in eight matches so far this season. He deserved a goal on Saturday for his performance, but it wasn’t to be.

The defeat was the first time County have failed to score in nine competitive matches dating back to the first leg of the Premiership play-off final v Partick Thistle.

The Staggies now have three points from their opening three matches but in the victory over St Johnstone and defeats by Celtic and Rangers, Mackay's men have performed well and there’s been plenty of positives to take.

Up next is another tough test down at Rugby Park to face a Kilmarnock side who have made an impressive start.

County’s previous visit to Ayrshire came on the final day of last season, where Killie ran out 3-1 winners to secure their Premiership status and consign Mackay's side to the play-offs.

County will be looking to avenge that defeat and pick up their first victory at Rugby Park since September 2017.

With the transfer business that Malky’s done so far and following an impressive start to both the league season and Viaplay Cup campaign, I’m confident the three points can come back up the A9 at full-time on Saturday.