Ross County's route to the Scottish Championship title

Media playback is not supported on this device

Watch: Ross County celebrate Championship title win

Since the start of the Scottish Championship season, Ross County have spent just three weekends outside of the top two positions.

While the likes of Dundee United, Ayr United and Inverness Caledonian Thistle have all stumbled at times, Stuart Kettlewell and Steve Ferguson's side have remained consistent enough to arithmetically claim the title - and immediate promotion back to the top flight - with a game to spare.

So what is the secret behind their success? BBC Scotland took a look at the numbers to try and find out...

Success from the wings

Ross County have scored 61 Championship goals in 35 games. Of those, an incredible 32 came from direct crosses or moves that began on the wing. Or, in other words, at least 52% of their goals came from out wide.

When compared to the rest of the division we can see just how integral this style of play has been to County's dominance of the division. Before this weekend's matches, Kettlewell and Ferguson's side average 21.88 crosses per match. Not only is that the highest in the division but, over the course of the campaign, it has equated to 190 more crosses than Dundee United, 211 more than Ayr, and 197 more than Inverness.

Not only are County creating more crosses, but they are also far more effective with their deliveries. This term, 36.53% of their crosses have found their target - far better than United's 31.2% and the 32.25% that Inverness can boast. In other words, 286 of County's crosses have found their target - 101 more than United and 98 more than Inverness.

That is something rival fans may attest to. All five of County's goals in their 5-1 win over United in September came from out wide; three of their six league goals against Inverness have started on either wing and, crucially, Jamie Lindsay's stoppage-time equaliser in the season-defining 1-1 draw against United earlier in April stemmed from a Michael Gardyne delivery.

The stand-out performers

Josh Mullin's season for Ross County

Naturally, there are certain individuals in the County side who have enabled the success of such an approach.

For example, on the right, Kettlewell and Ferguson have been able to rely upon Josh Mullin for consistent, superb service. Not only has the 26-year-old made more crosses than any other player in the division - 210 - but he is also first in the Championship for passes that led to a goalscoring chance and third for assists. He has also chipped in with eight league goals.

County have been just as deadly on the left. Gardyne and left-back Sean Kelly have combined to amass 181 deliveries, with the former third in the Championship for crossing accuracy and second for passes that led to goalscoring opportunities.

Of course, all of this would be useless without a reliable goalscorer and County have had exactly that in Billy McKay. When penalties are excluded, the 30-year-old has the highest goals per 90 minutes ratio among the Championship's top 10 goalscorers. The former Inverness CT and Dundee United striker also sits second among his peers for touches in the box per game and shot accuracy.

Although County have made sure they were the best side in the Championship across a number of metrics, it is clear that their title-winning campaign has been built off the back of a clear, regimented tactic of making the very best of what either wing has to offer.

Winning in the air

Being particularly dominant in the air has clearly helped the Highland side rack up plenty of goals over the course of this season, but Kettlewell and Ferguson's side have also used their height advantage to sure up the best defence in the division.

When it comes to the number of aerial duels per game in the Championship this season County sit just seventh in the division. But when each side is ranked based on the percentage of headers that they win, the league champions come out on top with a 50.65% success rate.

Perhaps even more impressively, when it comes to individual performances the Dingwall side have no less than three players in the top five for the rate of headers won. While Inverness defender Jamie McCart may sit top of the division, County's Callum Morris, Sean Kelly and Andy Boyle sit just below him. And Callum Semple, Liam Fontaine and Keith Watson all sit within the top 20 in the division.

What that means in more obvious terms is that Scott Fox has conceded just three league goals to headers this season. To put that in context, second-placed Dundee United have conceded nine goals to headers during the current campaign - just another example of how the Highland side have managed to pull away from their rivals this term.

Top Stories