Jim McIntyre has faith in Ross County players to avoid relegation

By Martin DowdenBBC Scotland
Ross County manager Jim McIntyre
County trail Motherwell and St Mirren by three points at the foot of the Scottish Premiership, though the Buddies have played one game more

Manager Jim McIntyre insists he has always believed his bottom-placed Ross County side are good enough to escape relegation and has never considered settling for a play-off place.

County registered their first home win since September with a 3-2 win over Motherwell last weekend.

The result leaves them only three points behind Motherwell and St Mirren.

"There were too many points to play for to just accept this (a play-off). You've got to stay positive," he said.

"I believed in the group of players that we've got that we're capable on our day.

"The challenge for us was to start proving that and putting in performances that would match our thoughts."

McIntyre told BBC Scotland that he sensed observers were beginning to dismiss their chances of staying in the Premiership, but he focused on reminding the players how quickly the situation could turn.

"You're always conscious when results aren't going well, people are obviously going to write you off," said the Staggies boss.

"The message we've been giving to the players is that the picture can change very quickly.

"Saturday's result proved that. If you go and back it up with another win then it changes again, albeit if you don't you can find yourself six points behind again."

Martin Woods celebrates scoring for County against Motherwell
Martin Woods celebrates scoring for Ross County against Motherwell

With just three wins now all season, the former Queen of the South and Dunfermline manager is aware of the urgency to register points regularly.

He added: "We know what stage of the season we're at just now and know how vital every point is. It's about getting that consistency and trying to get back to back results.

"I've got to say the atmosphere has been good about the club. Obviously a win makes all the difference."

County could close the gap on Saturday's opponents Partick Thistle to seven points, with the Firhill side recording just one win in their last nine league matches and three consecutive losses.

A further incentive may lie in St Mirren facing a tough trip to Pittodrie and Motherwell hosting an increasingly in-form Dundee side chasing a top-six finish.

McIntyre said: "Our away form has been very good albeit we lost last time out, but before that it was only one defeat in eight. We want to start picking up points away from home again."

The Dingwall side appeared to adopt a slightly more positive approach against Motherwell, with two strikers starting in an attacking 4-4-2 formation.

"A lot gets made of systems", he said. "The bottom line is when we were playing 4-2-3-1 we had four attacking players at the front of it.

"For me, it's about the players going out expressing themselves and doing their jobs. If you have nine or 10players doing that you have a great chance of winning the match."