You are currently viewing Ross County preview

Ross County preview

Summer signing Ben Armour is confident everything is ship shape after starting pre-season the fittest he has ever been.

Stranraer kick off their new campaign with a number of new faces, including the frontman, who has joined from Forfar Athletic.

Four pre-season friendlies are now in the rear view mirror ahead of kicking off the season against Ross County in the Viaplay Cup.

Armour is determined to hit the ground running and told the club website how he had prepared for his debut.

He said: “This year, I went for a different approach.

“When the season finished, I started three times a week with a navy personal trainer.

“Just for a different approach and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Armour has been putting in extra sessions

“To be honest, I think it is the best shape I have ever been in.

“In season and pre-season, I have never been as fit as I am just now.

“That was combined with football sessions every week as well.

“I went into pre-season fitter than I was at the end of last season.”

Armour, who lives in Glasgow, had sounded out a few familiar faces about the possibility of signing at Stair Park.

He said: “I like to do my research before I go into a club and everybody that I spoke to about Stranraer, they all had the same things to say: it was a great club, good people behind the scenes and you were well looked after.

“I knew boys that had been here over the last couple of years and the boys who are in the squad and knew it was a really good squad.

Mark Docherty played for Stranraer in the 2013/14 season

“Having spoken to the gaffer on the phone, I knew what I was coming into and it was something I wanted to be a part of.

“I played with Mark Docherty last year, who was at Stranraer a few years ago.

“I trust his opinion and really, really took on board what he said.

“He thought it would be a great move for me and that I would really enjoy it.

“I spoke to a few other people as well but I really trust Mark and he had a lot of good things to say.”

Conversations with manager Scott Agnew helped secure the deal but there was one member of the backroom staff in particular who assisted in getting the move over the line.

The new striker has family in the dugout at Stair Park

Goalkeeping coach James Low is no stranger to the new Stranraer number seven.

Armour explained: “I’ve known him for years – he is actually family!

“He is my big cousin.

“I’ve known him since I was a wee boy and he is some man.

“Every two minutes, I looked at my phone and it was coming up ‘James Low’.

“He is another friendly face and he was on my case non-stop to sign.

“I think, to be fair, the gaffer could have sat back and James would have just harassed me into signing.

“Again, he had lots of good things to say about the club.”

Last meeting

A second half strike from substitute Liam Boyce ensured Ross County progressed in the last meeting between the two sides almost nine years ago.

The Blues had won the previous encounter with Sean Winter finding the net. The midfielder again was on target as his looping effort caught out former Stranraer coach Mark Brown with only three minutes on the clock.

The lead lasted just 12 minutes though as Melvin De Leeuw beat David Mitchell to a long ball. The ball dropped kindly for the visitor who put it home with an overhead kick.

Finally, 10 minutes after coming on, Boyce was in the right place to touch into the net after Mitchell spilled a shot from outside the box.

Stranraer: Mitchell, Robertson, Rumsby, Pettigrew, McKeown, Longridge (Marenghi 74), Aitken (Forde 80), Gallagher, Stirling (Longworth 74), Winter, Malcolm.
Not used: Russell, McCloskey and Tobin.

Ross County: Brown, Celcer, Boyd, Fenlon (Frempah 33), Balk, Brittain, Kiss, De Leeuw, Carey (Quinn 80), Cardle, Jervis (Boyce 59).
Not used: Miller, Maatsen, Ross and Reguero.

Last five meetings

  • Stranraer 1 Ross County 2 (Winter; De Leeuw and Boyce) at Stair Park on August 26, 2014
  • Stranraer 3 Ross County 2 (Winter, Aitken (Pen) and Grehan; Brittain and Mustafi) at Stair Park on August 27, 2013
  • Ross County 4 Stranraer 2 (Cowie x2, Higgins and Gunn; Burns and Moore) at Victoria Park on August 8, 2006
  • Stranraer 2 Ross County 2 (Moore and Swift; Winters (Pen) and Higgins) at Stair Park on March 21, 2006
  • Ross County 1 Stranraer 1 (Higgins; Hamilton) at Victoria Park on February 25, 2006

Ins and outs

Stranraer

Stranraer have brought back striker Tam Orr

Ins: Martin McDonald (Hurlford United), Cammy Williamson (Annan Athletic), Ben Hughes (East Kilbride), James Dolan (Ayr United), Kyle Fleming (Albion Rovers), Tom Orr (Stenhousemuir) and Ben Armour (Forfar Athletic).

Outs: Luke Scullion (Broomhill), Anton Brady (St Cadoc’s), Craig Malcolm (St Cadoc’s), James Hilton (Dumbarton), Luke Watt and Ikechi Eze.

Ross County

Team of the Decade inductee Kyle Turner will make a trip back to Stair Park

Ins: Scott Allardice (Inverness Caledonian Thistle), Eamonn Brophy (St Mirren), James Brown (Blackburn Rovers), Jay Henderson (St Mirren), Josh Reid (Coventry City), Max Sheaf (Redditch United) and Kyle Turner (Partick Thistle).

Outs: Alex Iacovitti (Port Vale), Keith Watson (Raith Rovers), David Cancola and Dominic Samuel.

Last time out

Stranraer recorded a draw in their last competitive outing

Stranraer

Lineup v Dumbarton: Scullion (O’Connor 82), Robertson, Ross, Ecrepont, Watt, McIntosh, Brady (Mitchell 82), Hilton (Malcolm 61), Walker, Hawkshaw (Forrest 71), Grant.
Not used: None.

Ross County

Lineup v Partick Thistle: Laidlaw, Randall, Purrington (Harmon 60), Baldwin, Watson, Cancola (Sims 87), Dhanda, Loturi (Tillson 86), Kenneh (Murray 58), Samuel (Williamson 101), White.
Not used: Munro.

Five facts

Stranraer stunned the Staggies back in August 2013

1. Only one meeting between Stranraer and Ross County has finished goalless and that was the first-ever league contest between the two sides. It took place at Stair Park in August 1999. The home team was: McGeown, Furphy (Johnston 54), Black, Wright (Walker 50), Knox, Smith, George, Cahoon (Jenkins 78), Harty, McMartin, Blaikie.

2. The last three meetings between Ross County and Stranraer have all been played in August and all been in the League Cup.

3. David Hamilton is Stranraer’s top scorer in contests with the Dingwall side. He found the net four times. Unfortunately, he never finished on the winning side with two defeats and a draw when he scored.

4. A belated happy birthday to manager Scott Agnew, who turned 36 on Tuesday night. He marked it as his side defeated Kilwinning Rangers in a friendly.

5. At least one member of the travelling squad will be familiar with the surroundings of Stair Park. Kyle Turner made the switch to Dingwall from Maryhill and Partick Thistle during the summer break. He made 138 appearances for the Blues and scored 19 goals before leaving in 2019.

Admission

You can pay at the gate at Stair Park or watch from wherever you are

Admission at Stair Park is on a ‘pay at the gate’ basis.

Prices for Saturday’s cup tie are as follows:

  • Adult – £14
  • Concession – £10
  • Under 12 – free with an adult, £5 unaccompanied

Stranraer FC merchandise is available, and the Pavilion Bar at the ground is open from 1pm for pre and post-match refreshments.

Finally, if you can’t make it to Stair Park. you can watch all the action wherever you are via our live video coverage, presented by the boys from the ‘It’s No Easy’ podcast. The stream will be available to purchase for £11 from our social media channels on the morning of the game, with coverage starting at 2.50pm.

Photos: Bill McCandlish, James Verity