Malky Mackay hails Ross County’s spirit ahead of crucial final game
Ross County manager Malky Mackay says his team’s 3-3 draw against St Johnstone bodes well for their cinch Premiership survival chances this weekend.
A dramatic contest in Dingwall that at one point had County 2-0 behind appeared to have been decided by a Jack Baldwin thunderbolt in the 90th minute, only for Ryan McGowan to equalise for Saints deep into stoppage time.
In terms of County’s plight near the bottom of the table, it was not as much of a blow as it may have seemed – as the Staggies would have needed to beat Kilmarnock on Sunday to avoid a relegation play-off either way.
Mackay was taking the positives out of the performance against St Johnstone, rather than thinking of it as a missed opportunity.
“I thought we started quite well, and I’m reasonably happy with the whole first half,” Mackay explained.
“They caught us on the counter with their only shot on goal, and (Stevie) May – who is a good player – scores.
“There are terrific blocks on their line for three chances we had in the first half, so at half-time it was just a case of asking for 10 per cent more energy and we would be fine.
“We lose a really lazy, sloppy tackle for the penalty to go 2-0 down, but the spirit that we showed in the team really gave us the chance to fight back into it again.
“We came back well, we pushed and probed, and we held our nerve to go ahead.
“We lose a sucker punch at the very death, but in the grand scheme of things it changes nothing with Kilmarnock winning.
“We know exactly what we’ve got to go down there and do on Sunday.”
Steven MacLean, meanwhile, was frustrated to see Saints throw away a two-goal lead, but was encouraged by the character his side showed to find a late equaliser.
“We were 2-0 up and cruising, and then we drop our standards,” he said.
“We’ve set standards over the last four games and been very good, but then we stopped trying to win first contact and second balls.
“We know those standards now, but I have to praise their character because we went right to the end.
“I’m just disappointed to be 2-0 up in a game and not be able to see it out.
“Fair play to County, they fought back and deservedly got back in the game because they put us under a lot of pressure.”