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No negativity over Ross County start, says Kettlewell


By Andrew Henderson


Ross County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell says the Staggies can be pleased with their start to the season.

Eight games back into Premiership life, County sit fifth, level on points with an Aberdeen side one place above them.

They go into this week's international break on a four-match unbeaten run, having beaten St Mirren and Motherwell and drawing with Kilmarnock before battling back against St Johnstone last time out.

Stuart Kettlewell is happy with Ross County's start to the season – but thinks there is still room for improvement on last Saturday's draw with St Johnstone. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Stuart Kettlewell is happy with Ross County's start to the season – but thinks there is still room for improvement on last Saturday's draw with St Johnstone. Picture: Ken Macpherson

So overall Kettlewell is happy with what he has seen from his players so far, although he does think there is room for improvement from the 2-2 draw against the Saints.

"There's certainly no negativity from us, we're not coming away despondent from the start we've had to the season," he said.

"The performances by and large have been good, but we felt as if we could play much better Saturday.

"That's a bit that we have to go back and work on and pick pieces out of what was a little bit of a disjointed performance.

"That said, to still pick up a point and not be playing entirely at our best is a good sign."

County went 1-0 up on Saturday through Joe Chalmers, and looked secure enough when Ross Laidlaw saved a Stevie May penalty shortly after.

But St Johnstone would turn the game on it's head, with May levelling before half time and Matthew Kennedy controversially scoring from 25 yards out after the interval.

Blair Spittal would save a point with a beautifully struck free kick, but there were aspects of the game Kettlewell was flatly unimpressed with.

"I think our reaction from the first goal was a little bit disappointing, obviously being at home and taking the lead, you should build on that," Kettlewell explained.

"We felt as if we took a back step at that point and invited St Johnstone on to us. They grew in confidence, and in the end we're actually delighted with a point in the game.

"When you look at the decisions that went against us, they were absolutely mind-blowing. Thankfully Ross makes a save from the penalty, but it's definitely not a penalty.

"The decision that goes against us where Billy Mckay is fouled in the lead up to the second goal – it was a good strike from Kennedy, who was a menace all day – but when your player has six stud marks in his midriff from a straight leg challenge with three officials in and around that area, to miss that is quite incredible."

One positive was Ross Draper's return to the pitch from injury.

He came on as a substitute in the 77th minute for Spittal, despite not having featured since the defeat to Partick Thistle in the Betfred Cup.

"We asked Ross what he could give us, and I think when he came on you could see the presence he has," Kettlewell said.

"He was breaking up the play and playing simple balls to guys in the forward areas, it was everything we wanted from him when he came on.

"We asked a little bit too much of him, he hasn't had any game time in the last six weeks or so, but that's a sign of the character he is. He wanted to get back out on the pitch to help his mates."



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