Ross Co 1 – 0 St Mirren

Ross County moved into the top half of the Scottish Premiership with a 1-0 win over St Mirren thanks to a 49th-minute penalty from Joe Hungbo.

Ross County moved into the top half of the Scottish Premiership with a 1-0 win over St Mirren thanks to a 49th-minute penalty from Joe Hungbo.

They were made to work hard for the three points by a Buddies side who battled until the very end but lacked the quality in front of goal to get back on level terms.

County made it three league victories in a row for the first time this season and, with results elsewhere going their way, they leapfrogged Motherwell and Dundee United into the top six – another first for the club in the current campaign.

Stephen Robinson made two changes to his line-up, bringing in goalkeeper Dean Lyness and striker Alex Greive, but it was the unchanged Staggies who started the game more brightly.

Hungbo was a constant threat on the right wing in the early going, with his work leading to multiple openings that came to nothing.

St Mirren grew into the game but after a fairly even first half overall, it was the hosts who took the lead from the penalty spot.

Just minutes after the restart, Hungbo was taken down inside the St Mirren box by Alex Gogic, before the on-loan Watford man stepped up himself to score his second spot-kick in as many matches.

Moments later there was another blow for the Buddies as Conor McCarthy was forced off injured and Robinson elected to make an attacking change by sending on Eamonn Brophy in his place.

Brophy did go close with his first sight of goal from just inside the area, sending his effort just high and wide, before fellow substitute Curtis Main tested out Ross Laidlaw’s reactions at his near post.

The visitors attempted to maintain the pressure and they did start to have more of the ball and the territory but, much like their hosts in the first half, they were not able to overly trouble Laidlaw.

After being unsuccessful with their initial spell of pressure, St Mirren appeared to lose their composure, playing a number of long balls forward that went straight through to Laidlaw and leaving Main and Brophy frustrated.

The image of Main throwing his arms in the air summed up the Buddies’ afternoon as County held on to their lead to claim all three points.

Mackay makes case for the defence

Ross County manager Malky Mackay:

“I’m delighted to get the clean sheet again, the back four were outstanding today.

“Teams have really thrown everything at us in the closing 15-20 minutes and it is great credit to the centre-backs and full-backs that they stayed nice and calm and kept playing in a manner where we are reasonably high up the pitch.

“That allows us the chance to go and counter-attack. Both wingers worked hard and carried the ball 50 yards on separate occasions, getting bums off the seats.

“That’s down to their willingness and fitness to do that – and that’s what this group has got having got back at 2am after Wednesday’s game.

“It’s great credit to our staff to help the players recover and prepare, so we were absolutely ready to rumble at 3pm today.”

Robinson: I’ve no complaints

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson:

“I’ve seen it back, and I can see why he has given that,” Robinson admitted.

“Does he dangle his leg? I’m not so sure. The referee is a lot closer than I was for the decision.

“We can talk about the penalties that weren’t given at Hearts and red cards but we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We’ve just got to get on with it.

“There will be a lot better performances from us than that. I’ve got a group of boys that are giving everything, it just didn’t happen for us today and it hasn’t happened in the last week.

“We’ve only had three training sessions, one indoors when the snow was here. It is very difficult to put any stamp on it at the moment but over time I’ll change that.”

What’s next?

Ross County travel to Celtic on Saturday March 19 (3pm), while St Mirren visit Dundee on Wednesday (7.45pm).

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