First team

Match Report: Ross County 2-1 Hearts

16 March 2024

Yutaro Oda’s injury time goal wasn’t enough as the Jambos suffered a rare 2-1 defeat to Ross County in Dingwall this afternoon.


A brace from Simon Murray sent the Staggies on their way to victory, with a Stephen Kingsley free-kick chopped off for offside before the returning Oda netted in injury time.


Head Coach Steven Naismith made four changes from the side that knockled Morton out of the Scottish Cup on Monday night. Zander Clark returned in goals ahead of Craig Gordon, Nathaniel Atkinson replaced Dexter Lembikisa while Aidan Denholma and Alex Cochrane came in for Jorge Grant and Cammy Devlin.


The Jambos were first to threaten only three minutes in when Lawrence Shankland latched onto a ball at the edge of the box before lashing a shot over the bar from 18-yards.


Moments later the hosts did well to work their way into the box with the ball eventually finding Max Sheaf but he could only fire over the target from outside of the box.


It should’ve been 1-0 to Ross County on seven minutes. Simon Murray tore down the left before sending a ball across the six-yard box to the unmarked Jordan White, but he somehow turned the ball over the bar from a yard out.


The Jambos’ first clear cut chance came after 23 minutes when Toby Sibbick’s volley was pushed away by George Wickens courtesy of Kingsley’s cross rocketing back into the danger area off a County shirt.


Hearts kept chapping at the door and kept crafting chances. A glorious snapshot from Kenneth Vargas on the 39th minute crashed off the underside of the bar as the Costa Rican looked on in disbelief.


Despite, arguably, fashioning the better chances – it was County who claimed the lead just before half-time. Simon Murray drove at the Jambos down the left side and into the area, capitalising on his pace to get around his marker and drive the ball past Zander Clark from close-range.


HT: Ross County 1-0 Heart of Midlothian


Hearts emerged for the second 45 with some attacking impetus: Denholm’s early ball into Forrest in the Hearts area forced George Wickens into a recation stop to deny the Jambos winger. 


County soon doubled their lead, with Simon Murray again at the heart of events. Josh Reid’s ball sailed into the path of the marked Murray – who applied a curled finish to guide the ball past Zander Clark and into the net.


There were maroon appeals for a penalty as the game passed the hour mark when Lawrence Shankland was hacked down in the box and was remarkably booked for simulation.


Hearts kept pushing at County, with Alan Forrest cracking the woodwork with a powerful drive, but further frustration was to come for the men in maroon as the game entered the closing stages.


A foul on Beni Baningime on the edge of the County area cleared the way for Stephen Kingsley to curl a sweet free-kick past the keeper – with the referee consulting VAR before scratching the strike off for offside against Lawrence Shankland.


Substitute Yutaro Oda netted with a powerful drive in the six minutes of added time but it wasn’t enough as Hearts returned down the A9 empty handed.


Ross County: Wickens, Randall, Baldwin, Dhanda (Khela 76’), Loturi, Murray (Sims 83’), Efete, White (Brophy 45’), Ayina, Leak, Reid (Harmon 90+2’)


Subs: Laidlaw, Borthwick-Jackson, Brown, Sims, Sheaf, Harmon, Henderson, Khela, Brophy.


Hearts: Clark, Kingsley, Baningime, Shankland, Atkinson (Lembikisa 53’), Rowles, Forrest, Cochrane (Oda 81’), Sibbick, Denholm (Grant 53’), Vargas.


Subs: Gordon, Grant, Oda, Devlin, Tait, Fraser, Tagawa, McLuckie, Lembikisa.


Attendance: 5,267