Match Reports

Ross County 2-2 Hearts

3rd December 2016

Hounours even in Dingwall.

 

Ross County and Hearts played out a 2-2 draw in an entertaining encounter in the Highlands.

Jay McEveley’s first-half strike was cancelled out by a quickfire double from Arnaud Djoum and Callum Paterson but Liam Boyce’s late penalty meant both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Interim first-team coach Jon Daly made no changes to the side that dispatched of Rangers in midweek as the Jambos looked to continue their good form in Dingwall.

It was Hearts who nearly took the lead 11 minutes in. Don Cowie’s looping corner was met at the back post by Callum Paterson, whose header was cleared off the lines before Faycal Rherras skied the follow up from outside the box.

The Jambos looked dangerous going forward and in the 15th minute Bjorn Johnsen turned neatly away from his man to hit a low drive which was deflected a yard or two wide of Scott Fox’s left-hand post.

Arnaud Djoum was next to try his luck, curling a wonderful effort from 25-yards out, only to see the ball fly inches wide of the target.

Johnsen was giving the County defence a torrid time and in the 27th minute flicked his way past two blue shirts to square to Cowie, who knocked back for Paterson but his first-time snapshot from 18-yards was blocked just behind.

The home side gave a timely reminder of dangerous they could be just after the half hour mark. Michael Gardyne’s cross was cleared by John Souttar but only as far as Liam Boyce at the edge of the box and his half-volley was blocked clear by Jack Hamilton.

Hearts continued to threaten at the other end, with Johnsen’s glancing header from Cowie’s corner falling inches wide of Fox’s left-hand post.

With two minutes to go until half time, Ross County took the lead. Hearts failed to clear a set piece into the box and McEveley hooked the ball back over his head and high into Hamilton’s top right corner.

The Gorgie boys had Hamilton to thank for keeping it at only 1-0 early in the second-half when he produced a tremendous double save to deny Gardyne.

Moments later he was at it again, stopping a point-blank Boyce header on his line.

A spark from Johnsen saw him turn his man and hit a low effort on target just after the hour mark but it was straight at Fox and he gathered comfortably.

On 63 minutes Hearts got back on level terms. The ball broke to Johnsen who hit a thunderbolt from outside the box that flew past a clutch of bodies and into the back of the net.

Four minutes later it was 2-1 to Hearts. Paterson bulldozed his way through the Ross County shot before the ball was blocked inside the six-yard box, but the right-back followed it up himself to stab home beyond Fox.

Hamilton was at his best to deny Boyce again, superbly tipping the Northern Irishman’s header over the bar, once more at close range.

Johnsen should’ve put the game to bed with 12 minutes remaining when he picked Fox’s pocket inside the Ross County, but with the goal at his mercy he fluffed his shot into the side netting.

With four minutes remaining Ross County were handed a chance from the spot after Rherras was penalised for handball, and Boyce duly stepped up to dispatch beyond Hamilton.

Incredibly, with 90 seconds remaining Hearts were handed a penalty when Walker was crudely brought down by Davies inside the box, but the winger’s spot-kick was well saved by Fox.

Neither team could get that elusive winning goal, and Hearts finish a testing week with seven points from a possible nine.

Ross County: Fox, McEveley, Gardyne, Van Der Weg, Chow (Woods, 83'), Boyce, Curran (Schalk, 67'), Davies, Fraser, Dingwall (Dow, 85'), Routis. Subs: McCarey, Franks, Cikos, McShane.

Hearts: Hamilton, Paterson, Souttar, Rossi (Ozturk, 77'), Rherras, Walker, Kitchen, Cowie (Buaben, 85'), Muirhead (Sammon, 64'), Djoum, Johnsen. Subs: Noring, L.Smith, Currie, Watt.

Referee: Willie Collum

Top man: Jack Hamilton