RONNIE Sharp heaped praise on his captain Gregg Main after the midfielder flew through his testimonial match in what was his first appearance since Anterior Cruciate Ligament Surgery at Christmas time.
The skipper played for 78 minutes as three headers handed Ross County a 3-0 win with Ross Draper opening the scoring in the first half before Liam Fontaine’s double after the interval sealed the Staggies’ success.
Sharp said: “Gregg has been fantastic and I thought he did superbly well today. When you consider he has been out for 14 months and this is his first game and to play so well, it shows how hard he has dedicated himself to getting back fit. There is an awful lot more to come from Gregg over the next few years and once he gets the touch back as well. But for a first game in 14 months, I thought his performance was incredible.”
Sharp’s players put a tremendous amount of effort into their first run out of pre-season having also gone through a training session in the morning.
“I was delighted with the way the boys performed,” he added. “It was a really hard workout and Ross County’s full squad was here. They put on 10 new players at half time and it was all from the first team and we made seven changes ourselves, which shows that our squad is getting stronger."
“You are playing a Championship team who have just dropped down out of the Premier League, so they have a lot of quality throughout the team. It was very, very hard and they are really good on the ball. But we closed spaces down and did not give them that many clear-cut chances although they were clinical from set pieces, which I thought they were very good from and that is what you would expect."
“That is two weeks we have been back training and we have gone straight in against a full-time outfit. From that point of view, I thought the fitness was great and I cannot fault the work rate. I thought we knocked the ball about well at times, which was good to see. It is tough to break these absolutely quality teams down because they are full-time and this is their profession. I was impressed with them and it was a hard, hard game and really great work out for us.”
Sharp saw his side concede three similar goals with aerial duals won in the box handing the visitors the strikes that saw them home.
“You are always going to get mistakes in the first game,” reflected Sharp. “Not just the way the set pieces were dealt with but giving them away in the first place. They showed us how to attack the ball and even the second phase of it. We left them open a bit when it came back in but it was good finishes from them.”
Joe Cuthbert made his debut for the club having been on the bench several times last season. The 18-year-old featured for the last 12 minutes having excelled for the under-20s.
Sharp revealed: “We have had young Joe training with the first team boys more as a learning curve for him – what he learns training with the first team squad he can take back down to the under-20s with him and back up to the first team, if required. It was good to get him on the park and good for him playing for Nairn with his debut coming against Ross County – you cannot as for anymore than that as a young player.”