Ross County 0-0 Motherwell

By Colin MoffatBBC Scotland at Victoria Park

Ross County opened their Scottish Premier League account with a solid if unspectacular goalless draw with Motherwell.

Both goalkeepers had time to work on their tans in the Highland sunshine as scoring chances were at a premium.

The best opportunity fell to Michael Higdon when the visiting striker connected in the six yard box only for the ball to fly over the crossbar.

County seldom troubled the 'Well defence in front of 4,824 supporters.

Given the population of Dingwall is not much more than 5,000, that can be regarded as a healthy crowd.

After a summer of gloomy predictions for the future of Scottish football, the stage was set perfectly for a positive response.

The playing surface was pristine, the weather glorious and both sets of fans were in good voice.

However, the match failed to ignite, with neither team able to move the ball around with any attacking menace.

Motherwell form a guard of honour for Ross County
Motherwell formed a guard of honour for Ross County

The home side had very generously subsidised the 370-mile coach trip for Motherwell fans but that is where the Highland hospitality stopped.

County were well-organised at the back, with gnarled defensive stalwarts Grant Munro and Ross Tokely in dominant form.

There was an early scare for the home side when Jamie Murphy curled in a cross that evaded everyone in the penalty area and bounced narrowly wide of Michael Fraser's post.

Darren Randolph then had to look lively to tip over a header from Munro.

New Motherwell defender Simon Ramsden hammered a shot wide from distance before Tokely made a vital headed interception to deny Higdon.

The first half ended with Higdon looking skyward in disbelief as he diverted Chris Humphrey's corner over the top.

County are largely unchanged from the side that ran away with last season's First Division title and their shortcomings in the final third were evident.

Lone striker Colin McMenamin was full of honest endeavour but starved of service.

The crowd in the newly-seated Jail End were on their feet early in the second half as Tokely lumbered into the penalty area but the full-back hesitated and his low cross was cut out by a defender in claret and amber.

Paul Lawson tried his luck from long range and a stretching Tokely was inches away from getting on the end of a long Richard Brittain free kick as the home side enjoyed their best spell.

Several 'Well fans, encouraged by the balmy conditions and perhaps inspired by their midweek Champions League meeting with Panathinaikos, were bare-chested and made a right racket but couldn't inspire their team to greater heights.

Substitute Henrik Ojamaa thrilled briefly with a mazy run but could find no way through the brick wall of big men in blue shirts, while Fraser held onto a daisy-cutter from Omar Daley.

The first meeting of these sides won't live long in the memory but both managers declared themselves satisfied with the opening day of the season.

It's not often the weather will be as welcoming as this and, given the level of commitment shown by the home team, locals will be quietly confident of upsetting some of the division's leading lights as the nights draw in.

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