Ross County: Jim McIntyre says relegation fight will go to wire

By Martin DowdenBBC Scotland
Ross County players celebrating
County's form has improved in recent weeks

Ross County manager Jim McIntyre believes the fight to avoid relegation will go all the way until the end of the season.

County, who are 10th in the Scottish Premiership, have won their last three games and are level on points with bottom side Motherwell and St Mirren.

"I think it'll go right to the wire because the teams are very evenly matched," McIntyre told BBC Scotland.

"For me it's about who puts that consistency together."

The side finishing bottom will be demoted automatically while the second bottom side will enter a play-off with one of the top sides from the Championship.

County had been bottom before their recent upturn in form and McIntyre believes each of the three sides battling against the drop are "capable on their day".

"You can't expect that any time you get a result that the results go your way all the time with the other sides," he explained.

"We've got to concentrate on ourselves. That's served us well over the last three games. We're not going to change our focus."

Ross County manager Jim McIntyre
McIntyre has urged his players not to be concerned with Motherwell and St Mirren's results

County face Partick Thistle in Dingwall on Saturday, a side they defeated 3-1 in Glasgow last month.

"They'll go 10 points ahead if they win the match; we go four behind them if we win," McIntyre said. "It is a pivotal match.

"At this stage they're all pivotal. We've got a group of players here that know what's got them success recently.

"We've got to out-work the opposition to make sure that we have a chance of winning. That's what's borne fruit over the last three games."

Michael Gardyne returns for the Staggies after injury and believes his team-mates have demonstrated an ability to handle their current predicament.

"There is pressure," he said. "It's weird, though, that when you go out on a Saturday you don't feel it.

"We've had the three wins, which have been massive, but when you look at the table it's like we've done nothing. We've just given ourselves a chance to kick on and got ourselves back into the pack."

Gardyne points to a slightly more offensive line-up as one of the drivers for County's recent wins.

"Having two strikers up front helps," he highlighted. "Going 4-4-2 was a massive decision for the manager."

Partick Thistle beat Dundee United last weekend, having lost their previous five.

"Thistle showed against Dundee United that they're a very capable team," added McIntyre.

"They've come to Inverness and won 4-0 as well so that's two teams that have predominately been in the top four all season that they've had very handsome victories over."

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