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Stuart Kettlewell salutes Ross County response to Celtic set-back

Ross County Headshots 2020/2021 – Global Energy Stadium
(Image credit: Ken Macpherson)

Stuart Kettlewell hailed Ross County for putting their training ground homework into practice as they brought their mini-slump to an end in Perth.

The Staggies opened the campaign with back-to-back wins but then took just two points from the five games that followed.

Last weekend’s 5-0 hammering from Celtic was the lowest point of that bleak run, but Kettlewell made sure his team learned the lessons from that painful defeat.

He laid on a series of defensive drills aimed at ensuring the sloppy mistakes at the back which handed Neil Lennon’s team victory were not repeated.

And it paid off as County stood strong at McDiarmid Park, protecting the lead Iain Vigurs’ goal had given them as St Johnstone chased a late equaliser.

“It was role reversal to last week’s result against Celtic,” said a delighted Kettlewell. “I thought we were better in open play last week than this week.

“But we defended our penalty box manfully.

“The players are as angry and frustrated as anyone after what happened last week.

“I watched them through the week and there were a few reminders to one another that that doesn’t happen again.

“We tried to create similar scenarios to the goals we conceded last week and there were similar ones today that we dealt with.

“We set up a situation where we can practise it, but it’s up to the players to act on it during a game and they did today.

“It’s been highlighted that we won the initial two games of the season but haven’t won since.

“There’s no bigger critic of the team than myself, the players and the coaching staff.

“We always knew we were capable of winning this game. It was quite a tight affair and we said to the players before the game it was going to come down to the odd goal.

“If you look at St Johnstone’s results over the course of the season it’s kind of been that scenario. Fortunately for us we’ve come out on the right side of it and it’s just a brilliant away victory.”

Vigurs’ claimed the only goal three minutes before the break when his free-kick from the right channel was allowed to drift all the way to the back post and into Saints’ net.

It was the seventh time in eight games that St Johnstone had conceded first.

Scott Tanser came closest to an equaliser when he fired against the bar after the break, but boss Callum Davidson was left frustrated.

“To go in 1-0 down and to lose a goal like that is obviously hard to take,” he said. “I thought second half when you give a team something to hang on to it is hard to break them down.

“For me I would be really disappointed if we stopped doing what we are trying to do.

“I thought we performed really well today. Sometimes when you get beat it is easier if there were four or five poor performances and you come away getting beat 1-0. But today was quite a difficult one to take.”