By Ramsay Banks
Ross County and Hearts picked up a point each after a fiercely-contested 2-2 draw between the pair at the Global Energy Stadium.
Liam Boyce’s clinical effort put Hearts ahead, but Blair Spittal swiftly equalised for the home side. Spittal then put Ross County 2-1 up, but an expert Stephen Kingsley free-kick meant the tussle ended in a stalemate. Hearts are third in the Scottish Premiership while County lie in 11th.
In the opening stages, Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon nearly gifted County the lead. His clearance wasn’t good enough to beat Ross Callachan, but his end product was tame, thankfully for the newly reappointed Scotland number one.
Hearts took the warning shot in their stride, and stormed up to the other end of the pitch. Two former County men linked up, Gary Mackay-Steven steering the ball into the path of Boyce, whose shot had the beating of Ashley Maynard-Brewer making his debut between the County sticks.
This advantage, however, was short-lived. Ross County target man Jordan White held up the ball exceptionally well on the edge of the Hearts box. He shrugged off several bodies and then teed off Staggies vice-captain Spittal, who fired the equaliser low into the goal.
Ross County would take the lead to cap off the first half. Regan Charles-Cook found his way into the box at the byline with some mercurial skill, and his cutback found Spittal for his brace, helped in by a deflection off Hearts’ John Souttar.
In the second half, the match took much the same pattern, except certain County players began to visibly tire. Boyce was soon chopped down on the edge of the box and up stepped Kingsley to curl a scintillating left foot shot past the stranded Maynard-Brewer. This affair was becoming a Dingwall classic.
With almost the last exchange of the match, Joseph Hungbo drew a low save from Gordon, and the rebound fell to White. However, the striker’s shot could only find the stand behind the goal. Here are three things we learned.
Despite their contrasting league positions, Ross County and Hearts played out a very even match. This was an advert for Scottish Football that had everybody on the edge of their seats right up until the final whistle.
The away support were breathing down the neck of every County player. This made Hearts seek to play with an extra level of authority that made them look the more likely to score in the dying embers of the match.
This is a fairly solid result for County against strong opposition – but it must be noted that they have yet to win a league game. Signs are positive, however, that first win has to come soon as others begin to get off the mark.
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