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Ross County defeat Brora Rangers 4-1 in first pre-season fixture at Dudgeon Park

Brora's Joe Malin is helpless to stop Kazeem Olaigbe from opening the scoring for County.
Brora's Joe Malin is helpless to stop Kazeem Olaigbe from opening the scoring for County.

Ross County cruised to a 4-1 victory in their first pre-season friendly of the summer against Brora Rangers.

Staggies boss Malky Mackay handed game-time to 23 players throughout the 90 minutes, as they stepped up their preparations for the new campaign following last week’s training camp in Italy.

First half goals from Kazeem Olaigbe and Dominic Samuel were added to by second half efforts from Jordy Hiwula and Matthew Wright on a comfortable evening for the Dingwall men. Martin Maclean pulled one back for the Cattachs in the closing stages.

County will now turn their attention to their first competitive fixture away to Buckie Thistle in the Premier Sports Cup on Saturday, while Brora are gearing up for their Highland League opener away to Keith on July 23.

Mackay handed just two of his new additions a starting outing, with Kazeem Olaigbe and Victor Loturi among the side.

There was also a place for teenage centre half Dylan Smith, who was recently among four youngsters to sign full-time apprenticeships, and he partnered Alex Iacovitti – who captained the side from the start.

Victor Loturi in action against Brora’s Andy Macrae.

Brora, who had run Caley Thistle close in a 1-0 defeat on Saturday, fielded winger Ross Gunn as a trialist, with Stephen Rennie among the substitutes in boss Craig Campbell’s search for fresh faces.

The Staggies showed early intent, with Josh Sims causing problems in his play down the left-hand side. It was his fellow winger Olaigbe who opened the scoring on 10 minutes, however, when he drifted in from the right hand side before lofting an effort inside Joe Malin’s far post.

County threatened a second goal on 17 minutes, with Sims nodding into the path of Dominic Samuel, who curled a shot narrowly over Malin’s crossbar from the edge of the box.

The Staggies were not to be denied on 20 minutes though. Loturi strode through midfield before picking out fellow Canadian Ben Paton with a wonderfully weighted through ball, with the stand-in left back’s cross tucked home at the far post by Samuel.

Jordan White thought he had added a third when he turned another Paton cross beyond Malin, however the attacker was denied by an offside flag.

Opportunities became more limited, however, Loturi had a chance of his own when he flashed a header wide from a Connor Randall delivery on 35 minutes.

Ross County manager Malky Mackay

Sims passed up a great opportunity to extend the lead three minutes later when he was played clean through by White, but the former Southampton player was thwarted by a fine save by Cattachs skipper Malin.

Brora had struggled to create openings throughout the first half, but a neat interchange between Tony Dingwall and Gunn down the right led to the trialist delivering a dangerous ball which was unable to find any takers.

On the stroke of half-time, Dale Gillespie teed up Martin Maclean, who struck a low effort wide of the target.

Mackay replaced his entire starting 11 at half-time, with new additions Ben Purrington, Owura Edwards, Yan Dhanda and Jordy Hiwula getting their opportunity to impress.

Yan Dhanda in action for Ross County against Brora Rangers.

Two of the new recruits combined to net County’s third goal on 53 minutes, with Edwards getting to the byline before pulling back for Hiwula to thump home from close-range.

Ross Callachan came close with a rising effort moments later, which Malin did well to keep out.

Brora began to ring the changes, with Rennie, Jordan MacRae, Millar Gamble, Ali Sutherland and goalkeeper Ruardhri Nicol being introduced.

Nicol was tested for the first time on 75 minutes when Edwards once again set up Hiwula, who saw his low effort parried to safety by the youngster.

Brora looked to pull a goal back in the closing stages, with substitute MacRae seeing an effort bravely blocked behind by teenager Andrew Macleod.

The Staggies still had time to add to the scoreline, with former Brora loanee Matthew Wright on hand to tap home from close range following a misunderstanding between Nicol and Josh Meekings.

Brora pulled one back with four minutes remaining, when the ball broke to Maclean to rifle high past Ross Munro from the edge of the box.

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