Ross County forward Ross Stewart says the Staggies were rewarded for their belief they could pounce on Celtic’s vulnerabilities in their stunning Betfred Cup victory at Parkhead.
The Staggies triumphed 2-0 against the Hoops yesterday, with their deserved triumph coming courtesy of Stewart’s first-half penalty and Alex Iacovitti’s late header.
The result intensifies the pressure on Celtic manager Neil Lennon, with crowds of angry supporters gathering outside the stadium to call for his removal following the game.
With the Hoops having now won just two of their last 10 games in all competitions, Stewart sensed the weight on the Celtic players’ shoulders and the Irvine-born forward says the Staggies used it to their advantage.
Stewart said: “It’s a great win for us. Coming off a bad result last week and not a great run of form, to go to Celtic and win in the manner we did, the lads are buzzing.
“Even coming here, no-one expected us to get a result and we played with a lot more freedom. We felt at it in the warm-up and that carried on into the game early on.
“Everyone from big Ross Laidlaw to myself was excellent.
“Did we feel Celtic were vulnerable? I think so. I think the longer the game went we got more belief. We grew and you could see that in our play. The first goal came at a great time and the second half was all about trying to maintain our 1-0 lead and I thought we were excellent and thoroughly deserved our second.
“We were able to see it out. It just summed up how good we were.”
County’s victory was their first triumph against top-flight opposition since they beat St Johnstone on September 19.
Stewart hopes they can build on their Parkhead heroics when they face Rangers at Dingwall next Sunday, as they look to end a run of seven matches without a league win.
Stewart added: “We need to build on it for our league form and climb the table. The results have not been what we want in the league and this win has to give us the confidence to go and feel we can compete and beat anyone because Celtic are always up towards the top of the table.
“Rangers next is another tough game. They are playing well at the minute. We’re at home, so it might be a different type of game, but one we’ll prepare for correctly. If we work as we did here, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
Stewart insists he kept his calm with his penalty, adding: “I’ve never had a penalty here with the crowd, but I’m not saying it would have put me off. My focus would be there.
“I knew where I was going if one was awarded and it was great it found the net.”