Match preview: Ross County go on the road as they return to Premiership action after successful Betfred Cup outings at Kilmarnock
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Fine margins has been the tale of Ross County's matches against Kilmarnock, as well as Killie's recent Premiership form in general.
The historical head-to-head record between the sides produces a stalemate, and only two of the last 11 meetings between the clubs have been settled by more than a single goal.
From Kilmarnock's point of view, their last three league matches have seen them lose 1–0, with goals hard to come by in the competition in recent weeks.
However, the same could be said of County, although they seem to have found something of a groove in front of goal after netting against Dundee United and Livingston before scoring seven in their final two Betfred Cup group matches.
Ross County: Oli Shaw, Michael Gardyne, Ross Draper and Connor Randall were all injury doubts earlier in the week, although Stuart Kettlewell was hoping that some of those names would recover in time for today's trip to Kilmarnock.
Callum Morris returned to the pitch as a substitute in last Saturday's Betfred Cup group match against Stirling Albion, so County were going to monitor his recovery but expected him to be available for the visit to Rugby Park.
Carl Tremarco was the other name missing after tweaking his hamstring at Elgin City, and the Staggies will take no risks with the experienced full back.
Kilmarnock: Clevid Dikamona has been ruled out for Kilmarnock as he is not yet ready to return after suffering a foot injury against Hibernian last month.
However, manager Alex Dyer did not make any changes in the last two Betfred Cup matches as he tried to build up match fitness through his squad, and that has given him a multitude of other options.
Daniel Whitehall, Eamonn Brophy and Mitch Pinnock all found the net against either Clyde or Dumbarton and so have done their chances of playing this afternoon no harm at all, while Aaron McGowan, Brandon Haunstrup, Zeno Rossi, Youssouf Mulumbu and Rory McKenzie are all in similar boats.
Ross County: won 3–0 at home against Stirling Albion, won 4–1 away at Elgin City, drew 1–1 at home against Livingston, lost 2–1 away at Dundee United, lost 4–0 away at Motherwell.
Kilmarnock: won 2–0 at home against Dumbarton, won 2–0 away at Clyde, lost 1–0 away at St Johnstone, lost 1–0 at home against Rangers, lost 1–0 at home against Hibernian.
Head-to-head (all competitions)
Ross County 11
Last five meetings
Ross County 2–2 Kilmarnock – Premiership, Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Kilmarnock 3–1 Ross County – Premiership, Saturday, February 1, 2020
Ross County 1–0 Kilmarnock – Premiership, Saturday, December 14, 2019
Kilmarnock 0–0 Ross County – Premiership, Saturday, September 28, 2019
Kilmarnock 3–2 Ross County – Premiership, Saturday, March 10, 2018
Ones to watch
Ross County: Ross Stewart – after such a strong debut season in the Premiership with the Staggies, expectations were high for Stewart going into the 2020/21 campaign.
However, just a single goal from open play will have disappointed fans and Stewart alike.
So far, three of his five goals this season have come in the Betfred Cup, but the 24-year-old will be looking to use his converted spot kick against Stirling Albion last week as a launchpad to go on a strong run in front of goal once again.
Kilmarnock: Stuart Findlay – with Killie struggling to find the net in recent league matches, it becomes all the more imperative for the likes of Findlay to keep a clean sheet for the hosts.
There may also be an extra carrot in front of him too, with the Scotland international looking to remind national team boss Steve Clarke of his credentials for the Euro 2020 squad.
Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell's pre-match thoughts
"Kilmarnock have had a couple of good years in the Premiership, and Rugby Park is a difficult venue to go to.
"We've certainly had a couple of good games, even looking back to the draw against Livingston before the two cup games, so the players have to be feeling good about themselves.
"You see how tight this league is as well, I'm a broken record saying it every week but if you can go and piece together a couple of results, you can really change the nature of how the league looks.
"You can go and progress up the way rather than worrying about what will happen.
"We've done well in the League Cup, so it's important that we go and build on it now."