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Duncan Shearer column: Ross County deserve credit for Betfred Cup win over Celtic

Alex Iacovitti puts Ross County 2-0 up against Celtic.
Alex Iacovitti puts Ross County 2-0 up against Celtic. The defeat sparked angry scenes outside Celtic Park.

Do not be fooled into thinking Ross County met Celtic at the right time.

Stuart Kettlewell’s side revelled in their role of underdogs to create the biggest shock of the season so far in Scotland by ending the Hoops’ domestic stranglehold with their 2-0 Betfred Cup win at Celtic Park.

It’s human nature to focus on what has gone wrong when the Goliath team has been slayed by David as was the case on Sunday – but trust me when I say no matter how off the boil Celtic will be, facing them at Celtic Park in a cup tie is anything but an easy task.

Celtic have struggled in Europe this season but domestically only Rangers had beaten them until Ross County on Sunday.

What makes not just the win, but the performance so impressive from Stuart Kettlewell’s side was their own form heading into the game.

The previous weekend was a low point in County’s season after losing 3-1 to a Kilmarnock team which played 82 minutes with 10 men.

Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell during the dire afternoon at Kilmarnock.

The manager had questioned his players and they responded in the best way possible by putting in their best display of the season.

I said last week the three-game run facing Ross County was crucial and they needed to show something against Celtic, Rangers or Aberdeen.

Knocking out the holders and handing them their first cup loss since 2016 is as emphatic a response as Stuart could have hoped for.

A result like this can change County’s season. It will certainly have given everyone at the club a huge shot in the arm.

Ross Stewart looked like the guy who had impressed everyone last season.

We all know how talented a player he is, but the difference between having potential and becoming a top player is the ability to produce consistently.

I hope Sunday’s display is a sign the striker is ready to do that.

As pleased at Stuart will be with the win, seeing his side keep a clean sheet will be the most satisfying aspect of all.

There haven’t been too many of them this season, so to keep Celtic out on their own patch is no mean feat.

County will have celebrated their win and rightly so, but it will also give them belief they can kick on in the league too.

Ross County’s Alex Iacovitti celebrates making it 2-0 against Celtic.

With Rangers heading north this weekend they can spend this week preparing with more confidence they can get a result against Steven Gerrard’s side.

Clearly trouble in paradise just now

While the Staggies will hope they have turned a corner, the pressure is mounting on Neil Lennon and his players following Sunday’s loss.

It has been clear that all is not well at Celtic Park for a while and their Europa League losses have dented their confidence.

Neil has not become a bad coach overnight but something is not right there at the moment.

I don’t know if it is the pressure Rangers have put on them by opening up an 11 point lead at the top of the Premiership, but the timing could not be worse when they are trying to win a 10th title in a row.

Rangers are showing that consistency which Celtic crave and the fans, as we saw from the protest outside the stadium following Ross County’s win on Sunday, are fearing the worst.

That’s the problem with dominance.

When you lose your first cup game in 36 it feels like the end of the world for fans who have become used to unprecedented success.

It will be interesting to see whether the board stand by their manager or make him the fall guy.

Whatever happens it is clear the Hoops cannot afford to continue slipping up or Rangers will soon be out of sight.

Big squad – but does quality run so deep?

It has been a catastrophic week for Aberdeen with one point from two league matches compounded by an early exit from the Betfred Cup.

The only way it could have been worse for Derek McInnes and his players was if they had lost at Hamilton last Wednesday.

The Dons bounced back from an opening day defeat to Rangers by putting together a terrific run to push up to third place in the Premiership.

I know the manager is without key players, but it is clear he was bitterly disappointed by his side’s failure to make a fist of it at St Mirren on Saturday.

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes watches on at St Mirren.

Aberdeen fans know realistically they have two chances of winning silverware every season and it comes in the cup competitions. That’s why they will be hurting.

For all the talk of Derek having a big squad to choose from, perhaps the quality does not run as deep as we thought.

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