Ross County marked their return to the top-flight with a very easy victory over Hamilton on Saturday afternoon.
First-half goals from Joe Chalmers and Billy McKay was followed by a early second-half goal by Ross Stewart to seal a comfortable win, which could have easily been five or six.
The tone for the first-half looked set after just 40 seconds, when Ciaran McKenna was booked for handling the ball just outside the area, before Accies survived two early dangerous set-pieces.
The Staggies were left fuming on the eighth minute when Liam Fontaine’s header from Josh Mullin’s corner was scrambled clear by the visitors, but there was huge claims from the home support that the ball had already crossed the line.
Accies were forced into an early substitution as McKenna picked up an injury after 16 minutes and was unable to continue. He was replaced by Markus Fjortoft.
Joe Chalmers sent a warning signal to the Accies defenders as an effort whistled past the post after finding himself in acres of space , but he got another opportunity a minute later and punished Hamilton as he broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark . Billy McKay beat his man on the left-hand side after looking outnumbered, before laying it off to Chalmers, who sent his curling effort across Fon-Williams and into the bottom left corner.
County doubled their lead through more abysmal defending by the visitors. Johnny Hunt was too slow in clearing the ball and was dispossessed by Ross Stewart on the wing. The 23-year old picked up the ball before his teasing cross was slammed home by the lurking, McKay.
Fontaine nearly made it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time when his audacious chip nearly caught out Fon-Williams, but the Welshman got a finger-tip on it to divert it for a corner.
Half Time- Ross County 2-0 Hamilton
To Hamilton’s credit they actually battled back well at the start of the second-half, possibly getting some inspiration from the remarkable comeback win against Airdrie in the Betfred Cup last weekend, but its a complete different ball game against top-flight opposition.
Ross Laidlaw made an excellent save to deny Accies halfing the deficit, when Marios Ogkmpoe spun by Callum Morris before sliding it through for Ross Cunningham, who’s initial effort was blocked. The rebound fell to Blair Alston and his fine strike was brilliantly saved.
As soon as the Accies looked to have eventually woken up and started playing decent football, Ross Stewart rose highest from a Mullin free-kick to bullet a header by Fon-Williams, to seal the three points for County.
Alston forced Laidlaw into two more fine saves, but the hosts should have been four ahead on the 83rd-minute, when a dangerous cross evaded the whole Accies backline and looked set to be tapped home by Marcus Fraser, but the defender somehow missed the ball completely.
Another excellent opportunity came and gone for County as substitute Brian Graham found himself clean through following a quick counter-attack. Instead of taking the easy option of slotting it under Fon-Williams, he tried to be a bit to cheeky and chip it over the Accies keeper, and his effort landed on the roof of the net.
Full Time- Ross County 3-0 Hamilton
I knew coming into the game yesterday that our squad wasn’t ready for the Premiership, and the result was exactly what I expected to be honest. A defeat, but maybe not as embarrassing as it was. It could have easily been more.
I am sick and fed up moaning about the defence and how badly we need one or two well experienced centre-backs. In fact, I don’t know one single Accies fan who wouldn’t agree. Everyone can see it apart from the gaffer. Hamilton fans were even chanting ” Sign a centre-half”.
We could also do with a creative midfielder to back up Alston, who I think is personally underrated. All we done yesterday was loft long balls forward which completely missed him out, but he is dangerous when the ball drops at the edge of the box as we seen yesterday.
I have no idea what’s happened to AJ over the summer, but he looks absolutely nowhere near as good as last season. Maybe still a yard short and not fully fit ?. He poses a threat going forward but when it comes to defending he is very suspect and County figured that out early and went down that side the majority of the time.
Finally a shout out to every fan that travelled to Dingwall. We took treble the amount we normally would take, and we were all badly let down by the team.
What The Manager’s Said
Steve Ferguson told BBC Sport ” We are delighted. To score three goals, to keep a clean sheet was really pleasing for Stuart Kettlewell and I.
“We’re not getting carried away, it’s one game of football.”
Brian Rice said ” “We’ve got to prove that we deserve to be in this league and we won’t be in the league if we show the lack of fight and lack of desire that we showed.
“It was really, really disappointing today. Fair play to Ross County, they thoroughly deserved to win.”
Ross County XI
Laidlaw, Fraser, Kelly, Fontaine, Morris, Gardyne(79), McKay(74), Vigurs, Mullin(84), Chambers, Stewart
Subs- Ruddy, Draper, Grivosti, Watson, Graham(74), Spittal(79), Paton(84)
Fon-Williams, McGowan, McMann, McKenna(16), Hunt, Oakley(71), Alston, Gogic, Cunningham(71), MacKinnon, Ogkmpoe
Subs- Southwood, Fjortoft(16), Collar, Moyo(71), Smith(71), Mimnaugh, Hamilton
Referee- Alan Newlands
Assistants- David McGeachie & Gary Hilland
Attendance- 4,071 (156 Hamilton)
Goals- Chalmers(30), McKay(36), Stewart(57)
Yellow Cards- McKenna(1), MacKinnon(56), Oakley(71)
Red Cards- 0