After last Wednesday’s win against Livingston, I said that finding the balance between defence and attack in a new formation is a difficult art for managers to master, and scoring early is a massive help in that.
Unfortunately it was the other way around last night.
As Ross County went with a three-centre-back set-up against Livi, they continued the same format against Hibernian but with only one forced change to the defence from last week’s win in Dingwall.
Whether in direct response or due to their own circumstances, Jack Ross’s Hibs side matched up against their visitors in a near-identical 3-5-2 system.
The formation suited Ross County in many ways, but for Hibs it allowed the hosts to comfortably support two central strikers with wingers Joe Newell and Martin Boyle, as well as playmaker Scott Allan from further deep.
It was Allan who unlocked the door very early on, finding the newly-returned striker Marc McNulty for the opening goal after six minutes.
As strong as County’s defence has looked recently, Allan’s vision and McNulty’s finishing make a combo that most teams in the league will find difficult to suppress.
Losing a goal so early in the match was a huge blow to the Staggies, who have only won once away from home so far this league campaign.
Allowing Christian Doidge to head home unmarked just before half-time – when there were three centre-backs in the team – left County with far too much to do in the second period.
The results elsewhere weren’t disastrous and County still have a healthy gap over the bottom clubs for now.
A good result against St Johnstone will go a long way to keeping the pressure off but County’s away form must improve as well.