The Sunday Post (Inverness)
Draw means Staggies blow top spot chance
STUART KETTLEWELL admits Ross County blew a great chance to crank up the pressure on leaders Ayr United ahead of next weekend’s crunch match.
The Staggies’ manager saw his team let Queen of the South back into the game in Dingwall after Josh Mullin’s strike seemed to propel them towards victory.
But County’s hopes of leapfrogging the Honest Men at the summit crumbled after substitute Andy Stirling struck.
County have only lost once in 16 matches, but found Queens, with only two defeats on the road in the Championship, stubborn and stuffy opponents.
Kettlewell, who takes his team to Somerset Park on Saturday, said: “It is disappointing with the experience we have on the pitch that we couldn’t at least see it out at 1-0.
“Even at 1-1, we should have had enough quality to edge it and get our noses back in front.
“It is a sore one to take – a huge missed opportunity to go back to the top of the table.
“But next week’s game will take care of itself. It is a huge tie against Ayr, but we wanted to be going into it at the top of the league.
“So we have to lick our wounds and come back strong next week. It wasn’t the result we wanted going into the game.” County made one tweak from the victory away to Alloa, with Ross Stewart starting wide left in place of Declan Mcmanus.
Queens came north depleted, with
Stephen Dobbie’s hamstring injury sustained late in the victory over Partick the most pressing concern.
The Dumfries side were also denied the experience and craft of Gary Harkins with only five substitutes travelling.
Josh Todd’s early strike over the bar suggested Queens were keen to compensate for losing their talisman, with County slow to exert convincing pressure.
Josh Mullin’s driving run after 21 minutes ended with an attempt deflected
wide, but the lively winger was wild with a second attempt seven minutes later.
County’s closest calls came within the last 10 minutes of the first half.
Jamie Lindsay’s curled shot from the far right smacked the top of the far post and rebounded to safety.
Then, a cross from the right by skipper Marcus Fraser found Stewart miscuing a header in front of goal before Billy Mckay struck wide.
It took a wonder-save from Queens keeper Alan Martin after 50 minutes.