County claim point on SPL bow

PA Sport
Almost 5,000 fans turned out for Ross County's first game in the SPL
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Almost 5,000 fans turned out for Ross County's first game in the SPL

Ross County extended their unbeaten league run into the top flight as a 0-0 draw with Motherwell made it 35 games without defeat.

County produced a solid Clydesdale Bank Premier League debut and restricted Motherwell to very few chances at the revamped Global Energy Stadium in Dingwall.

Motherwell had the better of possession but last season's Irn-Bru First Division champions looked a threat from set-pieces with some dangerous deliveries by Iain Vigurs and Richard Brittain offering opportunities to tall defenders such as Ross Tokely and Grant Munro.

County's renamed stadium underwent a £1.7million summer transformation to meet SPL criteria for 6,000 seats, but the former Victoria Park has retained much of its original character and the 4,828 crowd hailed the unfurling of the First Division title flag.

County boss Derek Adams modified his tactics by playing Colin McMenamin up front alone with Martin Scott, back on loan from Hibernian, supporting from a five-man midfield. McMenamin got a weak header on target early on but Motherwell quickly settled into a decent passing rhythm with the home side sitting deep.

The visitors were being restricted to long-range efforts although Jamie Murphy, playing up front with Omar Daley wide left, almost opened the scoring on the half-hour mark when his ball into the box curled just wide.

Motherwell soon put themselves under pressure by conceding some cheap free-kicks inside their own half. One of those led to a chance for Munro as he headed Brittain's delivery towards the roof of the net but Darren Randolph pushed over.

Michael Higdon had two chances before the break from Tom Hateley crosses. The full-back chipped a cross over goalkeeper Michael Fraser after some patient build-up play but Tokely beat Higdon to the ball to head over. Higdon had a better chance from the resulting corner but headed over from underneath the bar with his back to goal.

Motherwell continued to have the better of possession after half-time but were unable to carve out chances against an organised County side. County remained a threat at set-pieces and Scott Boyd headed wide from an inswinging corner by Iain Vigurs.

Motherwell brought on Henrik Ojamaa with 20 minutes left and he livened up their strikeforce with some direct running, but there was no end product and they will need to sharpen up their attacking play if they are to pull off a shock in Athens on Wednesday. The hosts continued to play on the break and they survived some late pressure to claim their first SPL point.

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