It's Now or Never
The song says it all. It's now or never as we face County in the biggest game of the season on Friday night. Defeat will almost certainly see us relegated, unless Dundee continue their downward spiral, victory will see us cling on to our premier league status for another week at least.
A lot has happened since our last game at Motherwell that saw us go down 4-2 and leave us with a mountain to climb. We had clawed our way back into the game thanks to an Alex Fisher double, but we then lost a bizarre non goal before being caught out. Since then, Maurice Malpas is seen by the board as the man to save our season and help us to avoid relegation. That's something he failed to do the last time he was here as we went down when he and Butcher failed to overcome the plight Craig Brewster left us in. A touch of Deja Vu going on here as Richie Foran has taken us to the brink, but the shoes are still on.
Dundee recognised their problem and were pro-active in trying to avoid the drop by sacking Paul Hartley and putting their safety in the hands of Neil McCann. A run of seven straight defeats means that Dundee are now our nearest challengers for automatic relegation with the worst current form in the bottom-six. For all that, nobody can match our season long calamitous performances that leaves us with only four wins and a shatteringly bad one win in twenty-two league games, a statistic that has seen managers and boards sacked for much less.
Here's the bottom-six as it stands prior to our game against County. Bottom-Six Pl W D L F A GD Pts
7 Kilmarnock 33 7 14 12 30 49 -19 35
8 Ross County 33 7 12 14 37 54 -17 33
9 Hamilton A 33 6 14 13 30 48 -18 32
10 Motherwell 33 8 8 17 38 61 -23 32
11 Dundee FC 33 8 6 19 33 53 -20 30
12 Inverness CT 33 4 13 16 36 62 -26 25
With Dundee our nearest safety outlet we face County in a derby that could virtually decide our fate. County took an undeserved point from Celtic thanks to shamed footballing cheat Alex Schalk who was awarded a penalty for diving. Liam Boyce converted to make it 2-2. Michael Gardyne had scored a superb headed goal earlier but Celtic edged ahead only for the ref to blunder once more and offer County a point. That point shows that County are on the verge of safety as are Kilmarnock.
Diving cheat Alex Schalk was offered a two match ban for his embarrassing trip against Celtic. He had little choice to be honest with the defender almost a yard from him as he flung himself onto the turf to deceive the referee (fairly easy task) and win a penalty that should never have been given. He also tried to cheat his way to get the opposition player sent off. As the Arctic Monkey said..... What a scummy man. Liam Boyce's suspension does not kick in until after the derby, therefore he will be eligible for selection. However, County will be without influential defender Andrew Davies through suspension. Martin Woods is clear to play after his ban but Jay McEveley (doubtful), Tony Dingwall, Ian McShane and Paul Quinn are out.
Carl Tremarco is the latest Caley Jags casualty to be sidelined after sustaining knee ligament damage against Motherwell that will rule him out for up to six months at least. That will mean a shoe in for Kev McNaughton at left back surely. Aaron Doran and Josh Meekings are still on long term sick leave. Lewis Horner got some game time in a development league game in midweek, as did Scott Boden and Dean Ebbe, who scored a penalty in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Dundee. Larnell Cole could return after serving a one match ban, but Gary Warren still has another game to miss. Billy Mckay and David Raven should return to bolster the options at either end of the park.
tm4tj prediction:- This is yet another vital game and so far we have failed to win any of the recent six-pointers. Maurice Malpas is back to lend a hand but many feel it's come too late to save our season. Billy Mckay was taken on earlier, but apart from a stunning strike against Rangers, his goals per game ratio is not going to get us out of this mess, despite his overall play being energetic and full of quality. County are no better than us but have edged the derby's this season and that could be the difference between staying up or going down. I'm not convinced we can get the better of County in this one and a draw looks like being the best bet. We will need to rely on Dundee continuing to plummet, but even that option is running out of time because we are failing to help ourselves. Score draw in this one is where the smart money will be.
Relegation watch games. It's looking like we need to target Dundee, so a Motherwell win would be welcome. County v Caley Jags Accies v Killie Well v Dundee