HOW’S THAT FOR STARTERS?

It’sCounty­at­a­can­ter­forOwen’sopener

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - THE SCORE - BY ANDY SKINNER

Life un­der Owen Coyle be­gan in per­fect fash­ion for Ross County, although the new Stag­gies man­ager will do well to find a more com­fort­able af­ter­noon through­out his ten­ure.

County won at a can­ter against Kil­marnock at Rugby Park, with firsthalf goals from Craig Cur­ran and Kenny van der Weg en­sur­ing Coyle started as he means to con­tinue in a dis­play that will have of­fered the Stag­gies faith­ful a huge dose of en­cour­age­ment.

Make no mis­take, Kil­lie were dire, with their sup­port­ers mak­ing no ef­fort to dis­guise their anger to­wards man­ager Lee McCul­loch, who has over­seen a mis­er­able start to the cam­paign, with the bot­tom-placed Ayr­shire men go­ing into the sec­ond in­ter­na­tional break of the cam­paign with­out a win. It was a timely vic­tory for the Stag­gies, though – their first since they de­feated Dundee on the open­ing day on Au­gust 5 – mark­ing an ideal start for Coyle, and the per­fect way to go into the in­ter­na­tional break with a four-point cush­ion from the bot­tom of the ta­ble.

The dis­missal of Jim McIn­tyre has prompted the ques­tion of what the re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tion should be at County.

Re­gard­less of whether McIn­tyre’s sack­ing was harsh as many have per­ceived, there was no avoid­ing the fact it had been a poor start to the cam­paign. Although County had faced some tough op­po­si­tion in the open­ing weeks, they were only a point ahead of bot­tom-placed Kil­lie ahead of this en­counter and Coyle’s im­me­di­ate re­mit, aside from sea­son tar­gets and long-term as­pi­ra­tions, was to quickly re­cap­ture the win­ning feel­ing.

Im­me­di­ately he put his own stamp on the side, bring­ing in Davis Keil­lor-Dunn and Jamie Lind­say in place of Billy Mckay and Reghan Tu­milty, lin­ing up with a 4-3-3 for­ma­tion that saw Keil­lor-Dunn and Michael Gar­dyne pro­vide the wide sup­port for at­tacker Cur­ran.

County made a bright start, forc­ing a suc­ces­sion of early corners through their de­ter­mi­na­tion to at­tack Kil­lie down the flanks, with their best early chance ar­riv­ing on 10 min­utes when Gar­dyne’s free kick picked out An­drew Davies, but he could not get enough of a con­nec­tion to force his header goal­wards.

Kil­lie’s first at­tempt came on 21 min­utes when Adam Frizzell took aim from long-range fol­low­ing a loose pass from Davies, with his pow­er­ful ef­fort whistling inches over.

County kept up their threat and they went close on 21 min­utes, with Gar­dyne’s thundering ef­fort from the edge of the box forc­ing Jamie MacDon­ald to palm around the post.

Gar­dyne was the man try­ing to make things hap­pen and the for­mer Kil­lie player de­liv­ered a de­light­ful switched pass to re­lease Keil­lor-Dunn in an ex­cel­lent po­si­tion, which the young­ster was

un­able to con­trol be­fore it trick­led out of play.

County were thor­oughly de­serv­ing of their lead when it ar­rived on 34 min­utes. Keil­lorDunn put in a su­perb curl­ing de­liv­ery from the left and Cur­ran rose to bul­let a header past MacDon­ald from eight yards. The vis­i­tors gave them­selves some breath­ing space ahead of the in­ter­val, dou­bling their ad­van­tage through van der Weg’s first for the club. The left back strode for­ward un­chal­lenged be­fore ini­tially thread­ing in Cur­ran, with the at­tacker’s strike for­tu­itously de­flected into the path of van der Weg’s fol­low-up run and the Dutch­man nipped in ahead of MacDon­ald to prod home. It was no more than County de­served at the half­way stage. Kil­lie were jeered off at the break but there was no pal­pa­ble re­sponse, with the vis­i­tors con­tin­u­ing to look the like­lier side to score in the sec­ond half, with ef­forts from Cur­ran and Lind­say both land­ing on the roof of the net.

Kil­lie’s day was summed up when Do­minic Thomas’ low ball from the right found sub­sti­tute Kris Boyd, brought on at half-time to in­ject some goalscor­ing men­ace, with the vet­eran at­tacker sclaffing his ef­fort.

County’s fi­nal at­tempt to add to their tally came in au­da­cious style, with Jim O’Brien tak­ing aim from the half­way line only to be thwarted by the alert MacDon­ald. But the des­ti­na­tion of the points was never in much doubt.

FIRST BLOOD: Craig Cur­ran, cen­tre, is on the mark as

VIC­TORY SALUTE: It’s the thumbs up for new Ross County man­ager Owen Coyle af­ter start­ing his Stag­gies reign with a 2-0 Premier­ship vic­tory against Kil­marnock on Satur­day.

he heads Ross County to a 1-0 lead against Kil­marnock at Rugby Park

King Kenny: County’s Kenny van der Weg , cen­tre, cel­e­brates af­ter mak­ing it 2-0

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