Derek Adams has wasted no time in making an impact on his return to Ross County – with a haul of four points from his opening two matches.
Adams, who had been with English League Two side Morecambe, is the man the Staggies put their faith in to replace Malky Mackay last week.
In his third spell in charge at Victoria Park, Adams has been tasked with keeping the Dingwall side away from Premiership relegation danger.
Although it remains early days it has certainly been an encouraging start, with Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Kilmarnock followed by an impressive 1-0 triumph over third-placed St Mirren.
As well as ending a 10-match winless streak, the two results have moved County from 11th to eighth spot in the table.
We look at some key features which have been notable across the two matches so far.
Solid defensive foundations
The Staggies have kept back-to-back clean sheets on league duty for the first time since March 2022.
Adams has stuck with the same defensive structure that took to the field in Mackay’s final game in charge against St Johnstone, with the only change being the return of James Brown from suspension at right wing back to allow Connor Randall to return to the heart of midfield.
The three-man central defensive backline of skipper Jack Baldwin, Ryan Leak and Will Nightingale has looked solid and organised, and limited the threat on Ross Laidlaw’s goal.
Adams hinted last week he was wary of making wholesale changes too quickly, so it will be interesting to see if he persists with the current setup, given he has previously favoured a back-four.
Although County’s goals against column remains among the highest in the league, with only Motherwell and Livingston having shipped more, he could not have wished for a more defensively sound start to his third Staggies reign.
Attacking intent from offset
The Staggies have taken the kick-off in both matches so far, and have wasted little time in showing their intent on each occasion.
Against Killie on Saturday, it took just 12 seconds for County to launch their first attack, with Yan Dhanda whistling a tempting ball across the face of the visitors’ goal.
Dhanda was heavily involved from the outset against St Mirren again in midweek, as he stormed to the byline before seeing a cutback knocked behind for a corner within the opening minute.
In both instances, showing guile in the first move of the match set the tone for County to enjoy a spell of early dominance.
After each game Adams has made reference to his side’s bright start, and he will hope the Staggies can capitalise if they continue to get themselves on the front foot in the weeks ahead.
No desire to settle for a point in latter stages
County’s victory over St Mirren came as their reward for refusing to give up in their push to find a breakthrough.
The Staggies looked to be destined for a second successive goalless draw, which would have been a frustrating, albeit not disastrous outcome given some of the chances they carved out in the second half.
Randall hit the post with a low strike, before blazing another effort over the bar when clean through later in the second half.
County kept at it and Jordan White’s header from a Brown corner secured a valuable win.
🔥 Jordan White’s late winner which secured us a big 3 points last night! pic.twitter.com/XserEhHoVj
— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) November 29, 2023
There was to be no late breakthrough against Derek McInnes’ Killie on Saturday, however it was not for the want of trying.
Although Simon Murray had started the match as the solitary forward, the Staggies went on to finish the match with three strikers on the park after White and Alex Samuel were brought on from the bench.
It did not pay off on that occasion, but it offered a strong suggestion that Adams is prepared to gamble in an effort to turn draws into victories.