in #KillieStories September 29, 2017
Killie cup winning hero of ’97 McIntyre parted company with the Staggies on Monday to give this game an unexpected twist.
Ross County come into the match without a win since the opening day of the league season, where they defeated Dundee 2-1 at Dens Park.
Since then, a solitary point against Partick Thistle has been the total of their return with defeats to Rangers, Celtic, Hibernian, Aberdeen and Motherwell.
The teams have played each other 18 times on league business with Killie remaining unbeaten up until April 2014.
Since then County have won 9 of the last 11 meetings. Two Killie wins last year proved crucial in securing our Premiership status for another season.
The departure of Liam Boyce provided a cash boost for County but left them with a huge hole to fill in attack with Billy Mckay and Thomas Mikkelsen arriving over the summer.
Ross Draper crossed the Highland divide in a £100,000 deal from Inverness CT while Jim O’Brien made his stay in Dingwall permanent after a loan spell last term.Defender Sean Kelly returned to Scotland after time with AFC Wimbledon with Jamie Lindsay and Tom Grivosti completing their summer business.
County started the season with a fluid formation which appeared to be 4-3-3 at times or 4-1-4-1. Ross Draper’s inclusion saw a move to a 3-5-2 system for a few games before moving to a 4-4-2 in the latter stages of the clash with Rangers.
McIntyre stuck with that formation against Partick Thistle, handing a first start to U20s star Davis Keillor-Dunn.
An away hammering at Celtic Park saw a 5-4-1 deployed before a return to 4-4-2 for McIntyre’s final match in charge at home to Hibernian.Billy Mckay was handed a first start against Hibs with the team going 4-2-4 in an attempt to salvage a point. This term has represented larger tactical variation than in previous seasons.
Steven Ferguson’s last spell as caretaker boss saw him stick to 4-4-1-1/4-4-2 shape. Keillor-Dunn and Michael Gardyne should feature as wide players with the same back four as against Hibernian.
County have options in attack and it remains to be seen which combination of Schalk, Mckay, Mikkelsen or Curran gets the nod.
Owen Coyle said: "It's the nature of the game, every game is a huge game, but it's the same three points that are available the next week and the week after," he said."But the game we are in, you want to pick up points as soon as possible. That's just the nature of the game.
"Is Saturday an important game? Yes, as they all are.
"But the next weeks and months will give us a chance to assess the squad that's here, because everybody has their own flavour in terms of players they like.
"The important thing is over the period of time you put the right building blocks in place to have a team that can win games and really look to push on."