Ross County recorded back-to-back Scottish Premiership wins as Billy McKay’s late winner claimed all three points for the Staggies in a 1-0 triumph over Hamilton.
Stuart Kettlewell, who earned a shout out from Manchester United’s David De Gea on Monday night, saw his side stun last season’s surprise package Motherwell, therefore it was highly unsurprising that he opted to stick with the same side for Saturday’s battle drop.
Hamilton were no match Celtic in their curtain-raiser and succumbed a 5-1 drubbing against the 10 in a row pursuer’s. Brian Rice made two changes coming into this afternoon’s fixture, handing Callum Smith his debut. Markus Fjortoft also started while Jamie Hamilton and the injured Ronan Hughes dropped out.
It was much calmer waters for Accies this weekend, and the New Douglas Park side looked much more comfortable as both teams really struggled to make a breakthrough in scrappy opening 45 minutes in the scorching Lanarkshire heat.
Lee Erwin should have put the highlanders ahead after seven minutes as Harry Paton picked the striker out from a cross at the back-post, but Ryan Fulton made a fantastic point-blank save to keep the game level.
Accies created their first opening six minutes later as Callum Smith drove in from the left-hand side and forced Ross Laidlaw into a decent save.
The chances continued to come although neither side seemed particularly keen on taking them.
Lewis Smith was next to try his luck for Hamilton with a low shot which Ross Laidlaw saved well at his near post.
Just before half-time Laidlaw pulled off a fantastic stop to keep out a powerful strike from debutant Callum Smith.
County had more of the ball after the interval and were the much better side and they put together the best move of the match on 60 minutes when Ross Stewart and Paton combined before the latter picked out McKay, who was left all on his own at the back post.
The striker caught the ball sweetly, but Hakeem Odoffin bravely threw his body in the way to make a brilliant block. However, it did look as if it struck the right-backs hand.
Seconds later, Kettlewell’s side should have broken the deadlock when Connor Randall teed up Stewart only for the striker to drive his shot against the post.
Accies fans had their hearts in their mouths once again when Fulton made a mess of a Josh Mullin cross but Billy McKay could not force the loose ball home.
But, with 15 minutes left on the clock they got the breakthrough through another calamitous Ryan Fulton error.
The ex-Liverpool keeper dropped Iain Vigurs’ cross from the left and while McKay’s first shot was block, he made no mistake with the second to seal the points for County.
Tunde Owolabi and Justin Johnson both came on to make their debuts with five minutes remaining but had little time to make an impact.
HAMILTON: Fulton, Odoffin, Want(82), Fjortoft, McMann, Callachan(85), Martin, C Smith(46), L Smith(82), Moyo, Winter(77)
Subs: Gourlay, Hamilton(82), McKenna, Trafford(46), Munro, Mimnaugh, Templeton(77), Johnson(82), Owolabi(85)
ROSS COUNTY: Laidlaw, Randall, Donaldson, Iacovitti, Reid, Vigurs, Tillson62), Paton(79), Stewart, McKay(79), Erwin(62)
Subs: Doohan, Morris, Watson, Charles-Cook(79), Draper(79), Gardyne(62), Kelly, Mullin(62), Shaw