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Attempt to close gap on Premiership rivals will give Ross County ‘cause’ ahead of split, insists interim manager Don Cowie

By Andrew Henderson

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Don Cowie says the incentive of staying as close to the rest of the Scottish Premiership is giving Ross County cause ahead of their final two game going into the split.

The Staggies currently sit in 11th place, one point behind St Johnstone and a full six behind Aberdeen and Motherwell.

While there is still every chance they avoid the relegation play-off, then, there is more distance than Cowie’s side would have liked between them and a higher finish.

Ross County interim manager Don Cowie on the touchline at Pittodrie. Picture: Ken Macpherson
Ross County interim manager Don Cowie on the touchline at Pittodrie. Picture: Ken Macpherson

County have shown some good form in recent weeks, with four points from Edinburgh giants Hearts and Hibernian supplemented by good performances elsewhere – even if they have not always resulted in points.

Cowie is determined, then, to keep up the good work in a bid to earn as many wins as possible both to keep the momentum rolling on, and also to reel more teams into a relegation dogfight.

“I spoke about it off the back of beating Hearts – that was a great three points, but we have achieved nothing,” he insisted.

“We are still where we are, second bottom of the league, but those points have allowed us to be around other teams.

“It’s vitally important that we stay close to other teams going into the split so that it’s all to play for. That has to be our cause, you don’t want to go into a situation where you’re really chasing.

“Last year we went into the split adrift at the bottom of the league, but we managed to win the first two games after the split. It is doable, but naturally you want that gap to be as small as possible – if not ahead of other teams in at least 10th position.

“You’ve got to think positively. If we win this week and Aberdeen or Motherwell lose, it’s back to three points, and we know we will play them again in the split.

“I think they would admit that they’re still looking over their shoulders, but like I’ve said from the start we have to concentrate on picking up points and winning games of football ourselves. That starts with a very difficult game for us this week at Kilmarnock.”

One thing that should encourage County fans is strong home form under Cowie.

Since the club’s youth product took over as interim manager, the Staggies have claimed eight points from a possible 12 in Dingwall – made all the more encouraging by the prospect of potentially three home games after the Premiership splits.

The idea of making a home ground a fortress is a cliche in football, but Cowie nevertheless feels that could be an advantage for County to capitalise on in the final weeks of the campaign.

“There’s always going to be a split – you’re going to get three and two either way,” he added.

“Historically, we’ve been a bit unfortunate that it has worked against us. I’d like to think this year it will work in our favour.

“Our home form has been really good, so it will be important if we get three home games.”

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