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Ross County 1 Kilmarnock 2: Barbour bullish his side will make the cut this season

IT can be rash to project a season's hopes and ambitions on the back of one single victory, but Ross Barbour's exuberance could be forgiven on Saturday evening.

The Kilmarnock youth product, now 21, has already been through enough difficulties in his career to know when to revel in the good times.

Having burst on to the scene under Kenny Shiels, injury ravaged last season's aspirations until his timely return in the last seven matches for a grim, but ultimately successful, survival scrap.

Having then seen 22-goal Kris Boyd depart in the summer, it speaks volumes for the renewed belief that is coursing through the ranks that Barbour was talking of top-six football after victory in the Highlands.

It was a first win of the campaign for Kilmarnock at the third attempt, but Barbour believes the Dingwall triumph was the culmination of all the hard work that drew a single point from Dundee and Aberdeen.

The right-back, who in June signed a new two-year contract at Rugby Park, was a stand-out performer at the Global Energy Stadium, setting up the second goal. And with Hearts, Hibernian and Rangers in the SPFL Championship, he sees an opportunity for last season's relegation survivors. "Once we get going, I feel confident we can push up the league," said Barbour. "I don't see why we can't aim for the top six. Hibs, Hearts and Rangers are out of the league and there is not much between the teams. Even Celtic, I don't think are as good as last year, so it is definitely a realistic target for us."

Kilmarnock's plugging of that Boyd-shaped hole in their attack will surely have to fall at the feet of more than one man, although the figure of debutant Michael Ngoo offers the promise of goals once match-fit. Ngoo, the former Hearts loanee freed by Liverpool in the summer, scored three of his five previous goals in Scotland against Ross County.

But it was his fellow frontmen, Josh Magennis and Tope Obadeyi, who rose to the occasion as part of a promising attacking unit.

Barbour's delivery for the second goal was excellent, while fellow youngster Craig Slater capped his midfield display by creating the first.

For the home side, who had looked the likeliest winners for the match's first 30 minutes, it was left to former Cliftonville and Werder Bremen striker Liam Boyce to spring from the bench to make his mark late on with a close-range header from fellow substitute Joe Cardle's cross.

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