Glasgow to Dingwall is just over a four hundred mile round trip and it has a population that is under six thousand. While there you can take in the Dingwall museum, Pefferside park and the Hector McDonald Monument to name but a few of its attractions. The main attraction for all those bears travelling north this Sunday with be Victoria Park, now known as the Global Energy Check Stadium. This is the home of Ross County who entered the highland league in 1929 and were then admitted to the third division of Scottish football in 1994. Nicknamed “The Staggies”, which is taken from their badge which bears a stag’s head; this signifies the Seaforth Highlanders regimental badge with which many of the inhabitants had fought in the Great War.
Over the years we have enjoyed battles of a different kind with Ross County on the football pitch. We met only a few weeks ago at Ibrox where we ran out 2-1 winners, with goals from Morelos and Wilson cancelling an early tenth minute strike from the Staggies. I had missed this match due to being “festive” for a few days however I remember being very relieved when watching the Saturday results come in. I had been informed that the first half display did nothing to assist in warming-up those at Ibrox in what was a bitterly cold December day. It was one of those days where we were simply glad to take three points and move on.
It will be a reasonably early start this Sunday for all bears travelling north with a 2pm kick off time. The capacity of 6,541 will be mostly filled with the away support as we continue to follow in tremendous numbers wherever we go. Owen Coyle, who is the new County manager, would love nothing more than a victory over Rangers; being a well know supporter of one of Glasgow’s other teams will add extra motivation for him. However, with their current league position anchored at the bottom and three points adrift of Partick Thistle in the play-off position, I fancy that a draw would suit him fine. In light of this I suspect we will have a tough ninety minutes where we will have to be solid both physically and mentally.
Of course, playing for Rangers requires these attributes in every match and with our new arrivals in the window they will be made aware of these high expectations. The acquisition of Russell Martin, Jamie Murphy, Jason Cummings, Greg Docherty and Sean Goss all look to be very good business from Graeme Murty and Mark Allen. With the exception of Docherty, who has only just signed yesterday, we had a glimpse of Cummings and much more of a look at Goss, Martin and Murphy on Wednesday night, where we outplayed Aberdeen again. It was a great way to start back after the winter shutdown which is just horrible. There is nothing worse with being stuck in the middle of January with no football for three weeks. However, the clubs and players seem to enjoy it and we can’t argue as the side looked rejuvenated, rested and hungry to get back into action.
The first half seemed anyone's for the first ten minutes but then we took hold of the game and deservedly took the lead through Morelos. Alfredo does miss his fair amount of chances but he never lets it get to him. He doesn’t hide and as all great strikers do he goes looking for the next chance. Every striker will miss easy chances; Morelos has the mental strength to put this aside and move on to the next one with no baggage. He is one heck of a prospect and the recent £10 million price tag put on him by media sources, and being mentioned by others, seems very good value. In all honesty his value and potential are showing abilities that would command a higher fee than £10m should anyone come calling in the summer. It was a great performance all round on Wednesday and not one player performed badly. After we scored number two in the second half through a Tavernier penalty Aberdeen did come back into the match but came up against incredible defending from Bates and Tavernier in particular. Wes Foderingham was in outstanding form too and he is looking like a top-class goalkeeper again.
So, we take our momentum and good form into Sunday. Will we see any changes from the team that performed so well on Wednesday? I suspect not as the 4-2-3-1 formation is serving us well and we will hope Murphy and Candeias can unlock them down the flanks. Goss looked comfortable beside Holt which allowed Windass to get forward to support Morelos. The back four remain the same with Tavernier, Martin, Bates and John with Foderingham in goal. This leaves us options on the bench which is pleasing as we can see some creativity not only on the pitch but waiting in the wings if needed.
There is an upbeat mood around the club at the moment. Good business done so far and the side look comfortable on the park. Either the jerseys seem to have shrunk to fit or more probably our side have grown and realised that they have the belief, confidence and ability to be a Ranger. I predict a tough match on Sunday and it will be physical. Rangers to win by two goals to one for me with that man Morelos on the score-sheet again.
C’mon 'eh Bears!
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