Scotland gets it's 2020-21 season underway with the first weekend of SPL action ending with Ross County taking on Motherwell.
Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall, Scotland
Key Stat: Motherwell only won one of their final ten games of last season - but that was against Ross County.
Expert Verdict: Motherwell's third-place finish masks the fact they actually ended the last season in poor form. They were in danger of sliding out of the top four after a good season until the season was curtailed. Nevertheless, they got the better of Ross County when they last met and can start afresh with another win in this game.
Carl Tremarco was among County’s top signings as the Staggies look for an improvement on last season. Iain Vigurs will captain the team this season, with Callum Morris as his vice-captain. Ross Doohan was in goal against Celtic for the final pre-season friendly and could link up with the Staggies on loan in time for this game.
Billy McKay – The experienced striker scored 11 times last season and grabbed six assists too and will be a key striker this year as well.
Iain Vigurs – The long-serving midfielder has been handed the captaincy and will need to lead from the front if the Staggies are to improve on recent campaigns.
Regan Charles-Cook – The winger will hope to be the answer to some of Ross County’s creative problems in midfield.
Ross County lost their last two matches, albeit tough ones, before the 2019-20 season was wound up with them just six points above the drop zone. They lost 4-1 to Motherwell and then 1-0 to Rangers finishing on 0.97 points per game. Their defensive record should be the biggest concern, as they conceded 60 goals in 30 matches.
Defenders:Connor Randall, Alex Iacovitti, Callum Morris, Carl Tremarco
Midfielders:Regan Charles-Cook, Ross Draper, Harry Paton, Iain Vigurs
Forwards:Billy McKay, Lee Erwin
Jordan White will bolster the strike force after his arrival from Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the summer. He scored in the first pre-season friendly though it was another new arrival, defender Ricki Lamie, who ended pre-season with a goal.
Jordan White – Trusted to make the step up to the SPL after 26 goals in all competitions across two seasons with Inverness.
Allan Campbell – The midfielder scored two of his 11 Motherwell goals in the most recent match between these two teams.
Declan Gallagher – The new club captain needs to lead an improved defensive performance as Motherwell look to bounce back from a poor run of form at the end of last season.
Motherwell only won one of their last ten matches of the season, though that was enough for a third-place finish as the season ended early. That win was against Ross County, as Mark O’Hara, Allan Campbell (twice) and Tony Watt scored the goals. They finished the season with a 1-1 draw at Hearts – Chris Long scoring their goal.
Defenders:Liam Grimshaw, Ricki Lamie, Declan Gallagher, Jake Carroll
Midfielders:Mark O Hara, Allan Campbell, David Turnbull
Forwards:Jordan White, Chris Long, Jake Hastie
Motherwell’s most recent win was against Ross County, back in March, when Allan Campbell scored twice as they came from behind to win 4-1. They beat the Staggies twice last season, but lost their first meeting – Declan Gallagher scored a last-minute winner as they won 2-1 in their last match away to County, while Ross Stewart has scored Ross County’s winner in similar circumstances in the first game of the season. Here are the results of their last five meetings:
Mar 04, 2020: Motherwell 4-1 Ross County
Dec 26, 2019: Ross County 1-2 Motherwell
Sep 21, 2019: Motherwell 1-2 Ross County
Jan 19, 2019: Motherwell 1-2 Ross County
Apr 21, 2018: Ross County 0-0 Motherwell
Ross County and Motherwell are the final teams scheduled to start the 2020-21 Scottish Premier League season when they meet on Monday night.
After last season was curtailed, both teams moved swiftly to prepare their squads for this season but it has been a very different pre-season at the very least.
With few opportunities for friendlies, there could still be some rust to shake off when these teams go head-to-head, as Motherwell look to improve on a flat end to last season.
They beat Ross County 4-1 in their penultimate game but that was their only win in their last ten matches in all competitions.
Realistically, had the season continued, their European place could have been in danger.
As it is, however, they got their Europa League qualification and will now hope to start the new season afresh with some useful new signings like Ricki Lamie and Jordan White arriving.
Ross County need to solve their defensive issues. They conceded 60 goals in 30 matches last season and scored just 29.
While they too have strengthened in the summer, realistically Motherwell should be winning this opening game.
Motherwell are favourites to win their first game of the season, having won 4-1 when they last met Ross County. The visitors are a best price of 13/10 to win with Bet365.
Ross County’s defensive form was the major concern last season and over 2.5 goals will return evens with Bet365 and 888sport, which seems generous.
Allan Campbell scored three goals against Ross County last season, so the midfielder could be a good outside bet to score at any time. He can be backed at a best price of 13/2 with 888sport to do so.
Motherwell need to start well to bounce back from their flat end to last season but they did beat Ross County comfortably when they last met and can do so again.