By Ramsay Banks

Ten man Ross County and Dundee United took home a point each after it looked like the away side would take all three on the bus ride back down the A9.

Louis Appere put United in the lead in the second half, before Harry Clarke’s sending off looked like it would make it impossible for County to come back. In the dying embers, Hungbo swung in a free kick that looked like it evaded everyone in the box (besides arguably Baldwin right on the line), and gave the Staggies a last gasp equaliser.

The opening exchanges were uneventful. Most of the time, the ball was up in the air, and on the ground, and the little play that was on the ground was expertly broken up by players such as Jordan Tillson for Ross County and Florent Hoti for Dundee United.

It was the latter who would spark the contest into life 15 minutes in. Hoti took the ball from teammate Peter Pawlett and stung the palms of County stopper Ashley Maynard-Brewer with a rasping shot 25 yards from goal.

Dundee United then provided a crash course in last ditch defending. Blair Spittal swung in a perfect free kick delivery, and Jack Baldwin saw his header strike the post. Harry Paton smashed the rebound towards goal from 12 yards, but United skipper Ryan Edwards miraculously got back to the goal line to head over for a corner. Edwards nearly went from hero to zero moments later, seeing his attempted sliding block of a Spittal cross fortunately past the post for another corner.

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

Benjamin Siegrist was next to save the Tangerines from going a goal down. Paton chipped a pass to Spittal, and despite his effort being central, it was moving, and Siegrist had to watch it all the way to parry it out of the danger zone.

You’d want to be a fly on the wall during Tam Courts’ half time team talk, because the Terrors turned the tide immediately after the restart. When Kieran Freeman put the ball into the six yard box, it was mayhem from a County point of view. Maynard-Brewer couldn’t gather it, and both Alex Iacovitti and Baldwin failed to clear their lines. Eventually Louis Appere took advantage of this, latched onto one of many attempted clearances, and finished coolly into the bottom left corner.

Dundee United took a world of heart from their goal, and started to dominate proceedings. Baldwin headed a Pawlett cross more up than out, and Edwards tried to poke home, but could only find Maynard-Brewer with this attempt.

Ross County gave everything to try and reply. Paton burst through the midfield with options in front of him. The Canadian opted to slide in Spittal as opposed to Jordan White, but the former Dundee United man saw his driven left foot effort well saved by Siegrist. Baldwin was then denied by the woodwork for a second time in the match, nodding another Spittal free kick towards goal, but this time seeing it strike the crossbar and go behind.

The Staggies’ comeback mission suffered a crushing blow when Harry Clarke, who had already been booked for a cynical foul, appeared to elbow Hoti in the middle of the park. The Arsenal loanee was given his marching orders, and County played the rest of the match a man down.

United nearly took advantage of County committing their now limited numbers forward, Nicky Clark intercepting a Keith Watson header and bursting forward at pace. The striker had the option of Adrian Sporle to his left, but chose to go it alone and slashed it over.

The match looked dead, but well into added time, Paton won a free kick 40 yards out. For the second game in a row for County, a cross went all the way past everyone in the box and nestled in the back of the net. This time the scorer was Hungbo, and the Staggies had a point to show for their efforts. Here are three things we learned.

Here are three things we learned as Ross County and Dundee United shared the points in Dingwall:

United unravelled despite good work

Up until that last second sickener, Dundee United had put in a professional, gritty performance. Their play wasn’t nearly as good as it has been at times this season, but Courts’ men got their goal regardless, and afterwards looked to be putting on a clinic on how to close out a match. Dropping two points to a set piece will infuriate Courts and his team, but that kind of gritty performance will be needed throughout the season if they are to maintain 4th position.

County show more signs of progress

The Staggies put in a very good first half, but everything that could have gone wrong in the second half went exactly that way. What with a sloppy goal conceded and a red card, glimpses of last season’s almost weekly capitulations were beginning to show. The difference this time, was, firstly, a huge slice of luck, but secondly, a shrewdness to play old school when it was clear that they had to. Hungbo’s equaliser (which may have been prodded over the line by Baldwin before going in) was fortunate, but it wouldn’t have come without effective direct play.

Fixture list will show just how deep these sides can dig

This Premiership season has now reached the point where most teams will have to play twice a week. The classic Wednesday-Saturday pattern favours those with squad depth, yes, but the managers who know how to rotate their side so not to weaken themselves with each rotation will be the ones successful, and that is no different for Ross County and Dundee United.

Ross County: Maynard-Brewer, Randall, Cancola, Baldwin, H. Paton, Spittal, Iacovitti, Charles-Cook, Clarke, Tillson, White.
Substitutes: Vokins, D. Samuel, Robertson, Watson, Burroughs, Hungbo, Laidlaw.

Dundee United: Siegrist, Mulgrew, Niskanen, Pawlett, Clark, Edwards, Hoti, Freeman, Harkes, Appere, McMann
Substitutes: Carson, Sporle, Chalmers, Glass, Smith, Watson, Meekison.

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