Motherwell are hoping to bounce back after being hit for six at Hearts when they take on Highlanders Ross County.
The ‘Well had been on a great run form until they got their pants pulled down in the Capital and took a real spanking. It’s how they respond to that set-back that’s important now, because they were annihilated. Thrashed. Murdered. However you want to put it, there’s no easy way of dressing it up. They took a real beating.
The Fir Park outfit were less like the Steelmen and more like the Diddymen on that showing.
Boss Mark McGhee’s side had gone five unbeaten before that to pull themselves clear of the relegation play-off spot and hoist themselves up to eighth in the table – just five points behind County in fifth.
Keith Lasley returns from suspension for McGhee’s team and may go straight back into the side.
County’s main strikers Liam Boyce and Craig Curran, however, aren’t expected to return from the treatment table in time for the fixture, so boss Jim McIntyre is left a bit short of attacking options. Boyce and Curran have netted 24 of County’s 38 total goal haul between them so far this season, so the main responsibility for stretching the net will fall on the shoulders of seven-goal Michael Gardyne, Brian Graham and Ian McShane, who struck both goals when they were a tad unlucky to be beaten 3-2 by Aberdeen last time out.
That was their second loss in a row after going down 2-0 at Inverness Caley Thistle. County have only drawn three games so far this season and it looks like it’s all or nothing for the Staggies.
They’ll be looking to exploit any weaknesses in a side that will still be shell-shocked after taking that beating at Tynecastle. There’ll have been some sleepless nights from the players as they re-run that one over in their heads at night – and if there hasn’t, then McGhee should be demanding to know why. It’s a matter of professional pride and integrity. Of course, McGhee was given the dreaded curse of receiving the Manager of the Month award before that game but he’ll be looking to put any demons away here, but you can be sure they’ll have gone over and over what went wrong on the training ground this week.
If they can get their heads right then the ‘Well could shade it but it looks a hard one to call with each side more than capable of beating each other on their day. Whatever happens, it seems implausible that the hosts will have another nightmare like last weekend so expect it to be tight with defences very much on top and most of the action in the midfield area.
That’s just the way the game is going these days.
Motherwell Recent Form DWWWDL
Ross County Recent Form WLWWLL
21/11/2015 Ross County 3 Motherwell 0
12/09/2015 Motherwell 1 Ross County 1
02/05/2015 Motherwell 1 Ross County 1
14/02/2015 Ross County 3 Motherwell 2
13/12/2014 Motherwell 2 Ross County 2
Motherwell (4-4-2) – Ripley, Law, Hall, McManus, Hammell, Ainsworth, Lasley, Pearson, Johnson, McDonald, Moult.
Ross County (4-4-2) – Fox, Foster, Boyd, Davies, Reckford, Gardyne, Irvine, Woods, Franks, Graham, Schalk.
Ross County: Dingwall (inj), Boyce (inj), Curran (inj).