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Staggies buoyed by game effort against highly rated Groningen; ? County ready to ring the changes for final tour game after opening defeat.

Byline: ANDY SKINNER

GRONINGEN 2 ROSSCOUNTY 0 Ross County fell to a 2-0 defeat against their impressive Eredivisie opponents Groningen in last night's friendly in Assen.

Groningen, who finished eighth in the Dutch topflight last season, won thanks to goals by Romano Postema and Kaj Sierhuis.

The Staggies had a chance to pull a late goal back, but Brian Graham's penalty was saved by Jan Hoekstra.

County will finish their six-day camp when they will field a much-changed side against French second-tier side Valenciennes at their Doorwerth training base tomorrow, and co-manager Steven Ferguson is pleased with the tests the Staggies will face ahead of their Premiership campaign. He said: "It was everything we wanted from the workout. We came across here with a plan in what we were looking for and knew what to expect in playing a club of the calibre of Groningen.

"They are an established Dutch and European side and we knew the quality they would have.

"We have two good games over here and we're looking for guys to get real good minutes under their belts.

"These games mirror the quality we'll face this season in the Premiership. It is great to get it so early in our pre-season preparation.

"Add in the good work we've been doing at our training base, it becomes a really good, worthwhile week."

County were unable to include newly signed winger Simon Power in their squad following his loan move from Norwich City, with the Irishman's international clearance not coming through in time.

Groningen started with a youthful line-up, with their opening goal on 12 minutes stemming from a long ball forward by defender Milan de Koe. It was latched on to by 17-year-old striker Postema, and he showed impressive composure to cut inside Liam Fontaine before slotting low into Nathan Baxter's right hand corner from 14 yards.

There had been precious little to separate the sides prior to the breakthrough, but County showed a spirited response and increased their goal threat as the first half progressed.

New signing Joe Chalmers started in the left back slot he has occupied only sporadically for Caley Thistle, and looked comfortable reverting to the position he started his career in. He also provided support for County's attacking play, with a neat pass picking out Declan McManus on 29 minutes, however the attacker blasted his effort well over the bar.

It was the Staggies who ended the first half on top, with midfielder Blair Spittal seeing his free kick well held by goalkeeper Hoekstra.

Groningen rang the changes on the hour mark, introducing a number of their experienced campaigners. The second goal arrived on 69 minutes, when Kaj Sierhuis latched on to Ajdin Hrustic's pass before slotting low past Baxter.

Sierhuis was denied a second goal by an offside flag, while Hrustic slipped a shot inches wide following an incisive breakaway.

County spurned a fine chance to pull one back four minutes from time when substitute Brian Graham was felled inside the box by Ayoub Haddad, but saw his penalty tipped on to the post by Hoekstra.

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Publication:The Press and Journal (Aberdeen,Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUNE
Date:Jul 6, 2019
Words:514
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