Thursday, 28 February 2008

Saints Edge Out The Staggies - Ross County 0 St. Johnstone 1 - Scottish Cup Round 5 - 12/02/08

I was supposed to have visited Victoria Park back in December when I foolishly thought that I could fit it in along with a couple of Highland League games between Christmas and New Year, the weather put paid to that plan! No problems this time for this rearranged Scottish Cup fifth round tie.
Ross County have had their problems, they are yet another club who have had their share of financial woes (see the Save Our Staggies website for details), they were also relegated to the Scottish second division last season but are currently top of that division and the crowds are certainly holding up. They regularly get over 2,000 attending home games which, considering the size of the town of Dingwall, is pretty impressive and is certainly a lot more that anyone else in the second division and probably more than any team outside of the SPL!

I don't want to be too unkind to the town they play in but Dingwall is not particularly inspiring. It's not a place I would recommend if you were to ask me for a list of places to visit in The Highlands let's put it that way. There are several of these blandly anonymous towns along the east coast, Invergordon and Tain spring to mind as others. I love The Highlands but only normally go anywhere near Dingwall if passing through on my way to Ullapool!
Pre-match refreshments were taken mainly in Inverness, a couple of very nice pints in The Castle Tavern (a welcome addition to Inverness' real-ale scene). I did pop into The Mallard at Dingwall station for a couple of nips to keep the cold at bay and had a chat to a few of the St. Johnstone officials. They wee not particularly confident, they are doing well in the first division but knew that Ross County away is never easy.

The ground is just a short walk from the station and the floodlights were on to guide me over the railway bridge and down to the ground. Tickets seemed to be selling briskly enough and there was a decent atmosphere inside the ground, helped by what I suspect is the only bagpiper to play on a football terrace in Britain, I may be wrong about that though!

The game itself was very even, in fact Ross probably shaded it on possession and chances but they found Alan Main in good form. The winning goal was most unfortunate, the otherwise excellent Ross keeper Tony Bullock completely bollockse up an attempted clearance, slicing the ball into the path of Saints striker Liam Craig who outsprinted the defender to prod the ball into an empty net. The Staggies tried to get back into it and did hit the post towards the end but St. Johnstone held on.

More fortifying warmers were taken in The Mallard afterwards before I dragged myself back on the train to Inverness.

Attendance: 2519
Programme: Err...yes I think so!
Price: £10
Pie: Steak pies £1.10 and very nice too.

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