Ross County 0-1 Saints
3rd February 2024
Benjamin Kimpioka scored his first goal for Saints this afternoon as the Perth side defeated Ross County 1-0 in Dingwall to secure a vital 3 points.
The only goal of the game came on 34 minutes as Graham Carey’s long ball forward was misjudged by Will Nightingale. Kimpioka took advantage as the Swedish forward latched onto the ball before breaking into the box and sent a composed finish beyond George Wickens and into the far corner of the net.
Ross County pushed for an equaliser during the second half however, Saints managed the game superbly to see it out to secure the points to open up a 5 point gap on County in eleventh and a 11 point gap on bottom side Livingston.
Next up for Saints is a home match against Hearts on Wednesday evening, kick off 7:45pm.
Saints headed up the A9 today to Dingwall to take on Ross County at The Global Energy Stadium. Saints had to settle for a share of the spoils against Motherwell last weekend and Craig Levein made three changes to his starting eleven for this afternoon’s cinch Premiership match. Tony Gallacher, Fran Franczak and Connor Smith came in to replace Liam Gordon, Matt Smith and Dan Phillips who all missed out. There was also a place on the bench for Adama Sidibeh who joined Saints for an undisclosed fee from Northern Premier League club Warrington Rylands on transfer deadline day this week. Ross County battled out a 2-2 draw with Livingston on Tuesday evening. County manager Derek Adams made two changes to the starting eleven which started at the Tony Macaroni Arena as Brandon Khela and Victor Loturi both dropped to the bench and they were replaced by George Harmon and Jordan White.
It was a breezy but sunny afternoon in Dingwall as Jordan White got the match underway for the hosts.
Benjamin Kimpioka won Saints a free kick on 2 minutes as he was stopped in his tracks by Will Nightingale out wide on the right. Graham Carey took the free kick and his inviting delivery into the box was headed behind for a corner by Teddy Jenks.
The Staggies created their first chance of the match on 7 minutes as Yan Dhanda teed up George Harmon whose deep cross from the left picked out James Brown at the back post and the Irish right-back took a touch before firing wide.
A throw-in from Luke Robinson on 11 minutes saw Max Kucheriavyi play the ball into the feet of Connor Smith who broke into the County box before seeing his effort blocked by Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, with Saints appeals for a handball being dismissed by referee Craig Napier. Play continued as the ball broke again to Connor Smith who, this time, dragged his effort wide.
On 19 minutes Carey played a delectable ball over the top which split open the Staggies defence and played in Tony Gallacher, who got the other side of Loick Ayina, and took a touch to control the ball before blasting his shot over.
PHOTO: Tony Gallacher misses a chance to score
Just before the half an hour mark the ball broke to Yan Dhanda on the edge of the Saints box and the midfielder took a touch before unleashing a left footed effort which didn’t trouble Dimitar Mitov.
Saints took the lead on 34 minutes as Carey sent a long ball forward from the edge of his own box and Nightingale miss-timed the bounce of the ball on the halfway which played in Kimpioka. The Swedish forward weaved into the box, dropping a shoulder to cut inside Ayina, before showing excellent composure to slot a low right-footed effort into the far corner of the net.
With 5 minutes of the first half remaining Fran Franczak went on a good run forward before seeing his effort deflected for a corner by Nightingale.
On 42 minutes Eli King played in Brown however, his strike was palmed away by Mitov. Then shortly after Ross County created another chance as Harmon slipped the ball to Teddy Jenks but his low right-footed effort was comfortably saved by Mitov.
PHOTO: Benjamin Kimpioka celebrates his first goal for Saints
Saints made a change before the second half got underway as Oludare Olufunwa came on to replace David Keltjens.
The hosts started the second half strongly and on 50 minutes as Simon Murray latched onto a Dhanda cross however, his strike was deflected for a corner by Andy Considine, who was the Saints captain this afternoon in the absence of Liam Gordon. Then 5 minutes later Murray got another sight of goal as he got on the end of a Brown cross however, his first-time effort was saved by Mitov.
Saints made a double change on 59 minutes as Fran Franczak and Benjamin Kimpioka were replaced by Nicky Clark and Adama Sidibeh, who was making his Saints debut.
PHOTO: Oludare Olufunwa and Eamonn Brophy
Carey unleashed a long-range strike on the hour mark which was straight at Wickens who comfortably gathered the ball. Then on 62 minutes a good move by Saints saw Clark play the ball into the path of Olufunwa however, the defender’s strike didn’t trouble Wickens in the County goal.
The hosts continued to search for an equaliser and on 66 minutes Murray played the ball into the feet of Brown however, his strike was touched behind for a corner by Mitov. Then 2 minutes later the Bulgarian keeper was called into action again as Ayina unleashed a strike from 25 yards which Mitov pushed over for another corner.
PHOTO: Adama Sidibeh and Will Nightingale
Ross County pushed forward in the closing stages however, Saints managed the game superbly and on 87 minutes Ryan McGowan made a brilliant block to deny Jenks.
5 minutes were added on at the end and deep into stoppage time Saints made their final change of the game as Tony Gallacher was replaced by Kerr Smith as Craig Levein’s side saw the game out to secure their first away league win of the season.
PHOTO: The players applaud the travelling Saints fans at full time
Ross County: Wickens, Borthwick-Jackson (Khela 79’), Brown (Efete 78’), Dhanda, Murray, Harmon (Reid 79’), King, Jenks, White (Brophy 67’), Ayina, Nightingale
Unused Substitutes: Ross (GK), Sims, Sheaf, Loturi, Henderson
Booked: White, Borthwick-Jackson, Dhanda
Saints: Mitov, Gallacher (K. Smith 90+6’), Considine, McGowan, Carey, Kucheriavyi, Robinson, Kimpioka (Sidibeh 59’), Keltjens (Olufunwa 45’), Franczak (Clark 59’), C. Smith
Unused Substitutes: Richards (GK), May, Kane, Jaiyesimi, Sprangler
Booked: C. Smith
Scorer: Kimpioka (34’)
Referee: Craig Napier
VAR: David Dickinson
Attendance: 2,913 (279 Saints fans)
Match Report by Daryl Scott
Picture: Benjamin Kimpioka scores for Saints