The harsh lessons learned from a demoralising defeat against 10-man Kilmarnock will make Ross County more canny, believes midfielder Charlie Lakin.
The Staggies played for 82 minutes with a man advantage at Rugby Park after Stuart Findlay’s early dismissal, but somehow lost 3-1.
Eamonn Brophy put Killie ahead early on and, although Tom Grivosti levelled, the home side prevailed as Nicke Kabamba netted from the spot and substitute Chris Burke lashed into the top corner in added on time.
County manager Stuart Kettlewell was blunt in his post-match verdict and described it as one of his worst moments in 12 years at Victoria Park.
Lakin knows vast improvements must be made as County travel to take on Celtic in the second round of the League Cup in Glasgow on Saturday.
The on-loan Birmingham City midfielder said: “To play against 10 men for 80 minutes and not come out with even a draw let alone a victory was disappointing and the manager was not happy.
“We have big games coming up and we need to get up and ready for them – it is not going to come easy.
“Celtic are a very big team and we have to look and reflect on the Kilmarnock game, but we have to pick ourselves up.
“It was a kick in the teeth, but we have to learn from it because games are coming thick and fast now.
“When we were chasing the game, we were still trying to play neat and tidy, when we just need to be a horrible team and go long sometimes and get in their faces.
“Under the circumstances sometimes you have to be dirty and be a nasty team that people don’t want to play against.
“We have to know when to vary our play.”
The loss snapped County’s three-game unbeaten run after a league stalemate against Livingston and League Cup wins over Stirling Albion and Elgin City.
Lakin added: “It definitely feels like a missed opportunity, if you get a few victories you are right up there in the table.
“However, if you lose a couple you can go right down the league, it is that tight.
“We definitely need to pick ourselves up, get some victories and move up the table.
“We built our confidence up after back to back victories in the cup, we were on a good run – to come to Kilmarnock and perform like that was definitely disappointing.”