Hearts and Ross County had to settle for a share of the spoils after today’s 1-1 draw in Dingwall.
Kyle Lafferty gave the Jambos the lead with a superb free-kick, but Jason Naismith equalised in a pulsating second-half.
Craig Levein made two changes to the side that brushed aside St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup last week. Don Cowie and David Milinkovic returned to the starting line up while Aaron Hughes and Anthony McDonald moved to the bench.
The game was brought to life after 12 minutes following a scrappy opening period when Joaquim Adao gathered possession and hit a thunderbolt from 30-yards, which had Scott Fox scrambling across his line to push the ball past the post.
A quick Cowie corner five minutes later found the unmarked Ross Callachan inside the box, but from an angle he fired into the side netting.
County created a half chance after 22 minutes when Davis Keillor-Dunn weaved inside and found Naismith on the edge of the box but the full-back ballooned his effort over the bar.
The Jambos were dealt a blow when Arnaud Djoum lost his footing and stayed down injured, he was stretchered off to be replaced by Andrew Irving.
A wayward Adao pass was cut out by David N’Gog who found Jim O’Brien on the left, he darted into the box before pulling the trigger, only to see his goal-bound effort brilliantly blocked by John Souttar.
Before the half was out Alex Schalk broke free on the left and lofted an effort towards goal but the ball landed on the roof of the net.
Four minutes into the restart Hearts were denied by a superb save. Cowie’s swinging corner to the edge of the six-yard box was met by Souttar but his first-time shot was turned away by Fox.
The deadlock was broken in the 53rd minute. Liam Fontaine misjudged the bounce of a long ball forward and brought down Cowie who looked to race clear. From 25-yards out, Lafferty curled a sublime effort into the bottom right corner of Fox’s goal.
The home side blew a great chance to get back on level terms seven minutes later. Chris Routis was slipped through and played a ball to the back door, which fell into the path of Keillor-Dunn, but with the goal at his mercy he blasted over the bar.
Moments later Adao hit an ambitious volley from outside the box but it was straight down the throat of Fox.
The equaliser came in the 76th minute. Schalk’s cross-field pass found Naismith inside the box and he took a touch before slamming low and beyond McLaughlin, into the back of the net.
Substitute Ryan Dow broke through the Hearts defence to try his luck from distance, but the County man could only hit straight at McLaughlin.
The Staggies piled on the pressure in the closing stages, with McLaughlin making a stop from close range before County claimed an effort had crossed the line, however offside was given against them.
Hearts held on for the point, which makes it one defeat in 16 games.
Ross County: Fox, Fraser, J.Naismith, Routis, H.Souttar, Schalk, N'Gog (Curran, 75'), O'Brien (Dow, 82'), Fontaine, Keillor-Dunn, Kait (Tansey, 58'). Subs: McCarey, Effiong, McKay, Melbourne.
Hearts: McLaughlin, Smith, Souttar, Berra, Mitchell, Adao, Cowie (McDonald, 82'), Callachan, Djoum (Irving, 25'), Milinkovic (Henderson, 68'), Lafferty. Subs: Hamilton, Randall, Hughes, Buaben.
Referee: Craig Thomson