Captain looking for Dingwall to be fortress for Ross County
MARCUS FRASER remembers when ‘home’ felt like enemy territory for Ross County in the Premiership.
But the Staggies’ captain is determined this weekend to take another step towards making Victoria Park a place where only opponents fear to tread.
Misery struck the Dingwall club in season 2017/18 as they hurtled towards relegation disaster under Jim McIntyre, then Owen Coyle and then the current co-management team.
County, with Fraser one of the suffering squad, managed just three league wins at home throughout the entire season.
During that time, they went the best part of five months without a victory on friendly turf.
All that changed last season, though, with the rejuvenated Staggies savouring a return to winning habits in the Championship with only one Dingwall defeat all year.
This season’s Premiership opener – a 3-0 battering of Hamilton Accies – was the benchmark Fraser and his team-mates are eager to reach with regularity.
The County captain said: “It’s good to be back home again after a couple of away games. In the last year or so we have been doing really well at home and we are looking to carry that on.
“The managers have stressed they want to make this a tough place to come, making sure anyone that comes here doesn’t earn anything easily.
“A 3-0 win at home against Hamilton was probably the best way to start the league campaign.
“But we know ourselves, not every game is not going to pan out that way. There are going to be some down periods in the game when it will be all about how we respond.
“If we can start the game against Livingston well we will have a good chance.”
Fraser feels the County support has a big part to play in turning the tight, picturesque Dingwall ground into a fortress, but accepts the onus is on the team to stoke up the atmosphere.
He said: “Home games are so important. Teams don’t always like travelling here and we need to use it to our advantage.
“We’ve got our fans here, and we know the pitch and the surroundings. We need to make this place ours and all ours, and we have done that in the last year.
“To get as many points as possible, that has to continue, but it is up to us to give the fans as much as possible to make it a hostile environment.”
Even this early in the season, Fraser is realistic enough to know a match against another of the so-called small, provincial clubs could be significant come May.
He stressed: “The games against teams around us are our bread and butter, so to speak.
“At the start of the season, everyone is close to each other so it’s really important to create a wee gap and put ourselves a few points ahead of other teams.
“We have started the season relatively well, so we want to continue that.”
None of this points to complacency over how tough Saturday’s visit of Livingston, last season’s promoted club and stubborn survivors, could be.
Fraser added: “Livingston did excellent last season and credit to them for that.
“When I have seen them on television it’s always a hard game. They always make teams work for their wins.
“That will be no different this weekend so we will need to match that from the word go.
“Livingston have already picked up points against the teams around them.
“They got off to a flyer last season and while, by the end of it, they tailed off they were a credit to themselves.
“We have got the squad here to do the same and the first couple of games in the league campaign have shown we can be a good side in this league.
“As long as we stay compact and put the work in as much as we always do, we will have a good season.”