Victory didn’t come easily for Ross County on Saturday, but the three points gained in their success at home to Hamilton was of huge importance, according to boss Jim McIntyre.
Having faced Celtic, Hearts and Aberdeen in a run of four fixtures leading up to Saturday’s encounter at Dingwall, County had limped to one victory in five games, with a top-half position far from certain ahead of the split in this season’s Ladbrokes Premiership.
But despite having Jamie Reckford sent off early in the second-half, County held on for a 2-1 win over Hamilton to keep hold of fourth place.
With Inverness in seventh just four points behind the Staggies, and with all three teams immediately below County having games in hand, every point will be crucial as the split looms.
What is a positive for McIntyre’s men however is that they no longer face any side above them in the table, while Dundee for example must face Celtic twice.
Alex Schalk put County on their way at the weekend with his first goal for the club, before Dougie Imrie levelled midway through the second period.
Ian McShane’s stunning free-kick inside the final quarter of an hour ensured the bulk of the 3000+ crowd went home happy however.
McIntyre acknowledged conditions didn’t help matters at the weekend in their quest for victory.
“With the condition of the pitch and the weather today it was never going to be pretty. We knew scoring the first goal was going to be vital,” the Staggies boss stated.
“We managed to do that at a good time, going in 1-0 at the break without either team creating much.”
Reckford’s dismissal so soon after the break gave Hamilton the ascendancy.
“We had to hang in there. We had the goalkeeper making good saves, blocks on the line, some heroic defending – and a wee bit of luck at times as well,” McIntyre added.
“We knew chances would be at a premium and it was a free-kick good enough to win, and grace, any game.”
Having got the bigger sides out of the way, Hamilton represented part one of a seven-game stretch to the split, and though hard-fought, the Highlanders are on their way.
“We knew the seven league games coming up were going to be huge – and they will determine how successful we are this season. For me, it was vitally important we won today’s match,” McIntyre said.
County host bottom side Dundee United next weekend, and are evens favourites for a second successive win.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.