Malky Mackay proud of Ross County's effort and discipline with 10 men despite defeat against Celtic in the Scottish Premiership in Dingwall
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Malky Mackay insisted he was proud of the discipline and effort his players put into their 3-0 defeat against Celtic.
Ross County were reduced to 10 men when James Brown was sent off early in the first half, but for long periods of the game there was no big difference on the scoreboard.
It was only in the dying embers of the first half that Celtic took the lead through David Turnbull, and then a wonderstrike from Luis Palma was followed up by a James Forrest header in the final 15 minutes.
To contain the defending Scottish champions for such long spells with a numbers deficit, then, gave Mackay plenty of optimism over the Staggies' prospects in the coming weeks.
"Obviously we've got a mountain to climb the minute it goes to 10 men," Mackay explained.
"Jim has apologised, but he didn't even see him – the boy came from his blind side, so there's not much we can say to him.
"Come half time I thought we had weathered the storm, so to lose the goal at six minutes and six seconds into stoppage time was a bit of a sickener.
"It was the only place he could have put it that our goalkeeper couldn't get to, so that gave us a mountain to climb.
"We were disciplined and organised, and their runs were always going to be very good but we matched most of them.
"I've got to be proud of my team. On another day, that could have been six or seven – various teams have had that over the last season or two.
"To not get to that point and be disciplined the way we did, keep them to two wonderstrikes, that will see us okay going into the rest of the teams outside of the Old Firm."
Celtic are renowned for their quality in the final third, meaning even with an even playing field County were the underdogs.
Having seen other teams suffer much worse hammerings, too, Mackay was all too aware of what could happen if his players switched off – making him all the more pleased that concentration levels were kept high.
"Playing 11v11, I thought we started well.
"It was always going to be a tough game, but we've ran them close in every game and invariably scored against them.
"Going down to 10 men, it becomes dangerous, because at that point you can be hurt.
"That's nothing to do with your players, it's just that tiredness kicks in and Celtic move like the Red Arrows.
"That can really damage clubs and managers, so if they are playing well and they have an extra man, and if your tactics are wrong, it can become eight or nine.
"We were tough and resilient and didn't get to that, and that will stand us in good stead this season because our fight is not against Celtic or Rangers this season."