With both sides conceding just four goals in a combined nine games so far this season, a classic, end to end open game of football seemed unlikely. Both defences were performing well and both teams are struggling of late to find the net.
Unfortunately, under the lights at Tannadice, this trend continued for both sides however there was much to take from the match, especially from a Ross County perspective. The Dingwall side continued their incredible 40-match unbeaten run in league football with a hard-fought, well-earned point in Tayside.
When asked about the secret to this amazing run the Ross County manager, Derek Adams gave a simple answer: “We’ve got good players and we’ve got a good understanding of playing and organisation. It’s a great record and to do it with six games in the SPL against the likes of Aberdeen, Motherwell, Celtic, Kilmarnock, Dundee and Dundee United…we’ve had a difficult start to the season. To go unbeaten and move up the league again, we are delighted with the progress we are making.”
In terms of the match, Adams was full of praise for his defenders for another shut-out: “We dealt well with the pressure that Dundee United put us under towards the end of the game. There are a lot of good players at our football club and if you’ve got clean sheets then it’s always going to stand you in good stead.”
Ross County looked most dangerous at the start of the match. They were gifted a couple of opportunities by some questionable ball control from Dundee United goalkeeper, Radoslaw Cierzniak. Colin McMenamin, in-particular, failed to capitalize when Cierzniak made a mess with a back-pass.
Dundee United struggled to find their usual passing fluency. Michael Gardyne produced the best piece of football of the first half with a curling effort that was well saved by County number one Michael Fraser. United missed the presence of Jon Daly, Michael Gardyne and Johnny Russell tried but ultimately struggled to link-up effectively to make up for the loss of Daly.
The second half saw United step things up a little, with the attack more focused down their left-hand-side, through young wide-player Ryan Dow. Dow was the stand-out performer for the home side and caused Ross County full back Ross Tokely numerous problems with his pace and direct running off the ball in behind.
Dow himself was unlucky not to break the deadlock after 68 minutes. He met the ball with a neat side foot strike that clipped the crossbar. Gavin Gunning had the only other notable effort of the second half with a header that Michael Fraser saved diving to his right.
Dundee United manager, Peter Houston was gracious towards Ross County post-match and was fairly positive about his side, despite their lack of cutting edge.
He said: “Up to the final third we were excellent. We missed the presence of Daly and the creativity of Gary Mackay-Steven (both of whom were injured) but I have no complaints with the team tonight. We have four clean sheets out of five in the SPL this season so there is a lot of positives to take.”
Credit must go to Derek Adams and his team for grinding out this performance. They were well worth their point with their excellent team shape and organisation. Rarely are teams as well-drilled as Adams’ team were here.
Ross County played very direct but with little attacking support from either full back. The job of anybody in their back four is to defend. And only defend. All of the defenders had solid games, with left back Marc Fitzpatrick catching the eye the most.
Refreshing is a suitable word to describe Ross County’s application to life in the Scottish Premier League. The word can also be extended to describe the support they receive from their travelling fans. They were also excellent, noisy and right behind this style Adams has them playing.
The challenge for Adams and his players will come once they are safe. Their fans might then demand more expansive football with more attacking intent. It remains to be seen whether Adams can initiate that kind of football at this level.