Ross County 1-1 Hearts: The hosts are still in the top-six hunt after the draw

Ross County kept their hopes of a top-six premiere alive by drawing 1-1 to third-placed Hearts.

Alex Yakoviti put the hosts ahead but Harts quickly equalized through Barry Mackay.

As soon as the legs started to get tired, an entertaining first half gave way to the battle of wills.

Hearts missed a penalty and Stagis hit the woodwork before Craig Gordon bypassed and fired the opener Ikovitti.

McKay, who missed that spot kick earlier, corrected with an equalizer though, the game came to a standstill as the frantic pace of the match began to affect both sides.

At Dingwall, the spectators advanced to the early stages and got a golden opportunity to score from the penalty spot.

Connor Randall decided to land Mack inside the penalty area, but it was saved by Ross Ledell, who dived to his right when he tried to convert the spot kick himself.

Stagis responded to a set piece about 10 minutes later, as Blair met Spitfire cornerback Jack Baldwin, only to return from his header post.

In the next spell, Harry Patton and Ross Callachan blocked two goalbound shots at the last minute, but the pressure would tell the end as Icovitti gave County the lead just after the half-hour mark, turning Spital’s free kick from the right.

It should have been 2-0 minutes later, this time from the open game, Spital got the ball from Jordan White and Reagan completely unmarked Charles-Cook in the back post, just to hit the post at Grenada International.

Photo:
Alex Yakoviti (center) celebrates his goal for Ross County at the Global Energy Stadium

It was a whirlwind 10 minutes where Stagis really should have scored more than once, but five minutes before the break Harts got on the scoresheet.

Mack corrects for his missed penalty, grabs the age-blocked shot and fires at a nearby post from a tight angle with a deflection.

Five minutes after the restart, the county should have regained their lead, only to have more heroism to maintain the score level from the Hearts.

Craig Gordon needed to tip Jordan Tilson’s effort into the post, before somehow refusing to give Calachan a tap in to recover in time.

Although worn in the second half, players on both sides apparently begin to get tired, which makes it a struggle to keep up with the constant roundmouth action – and as a result the process turns into a bit of a draw.

What managers say …

Sit down Robbie Nielsen The goalkeeper was the key to getting a point after highlighting Craig Gordon’s qualities.

Even at 39, Gordon continues to shine as reliably as ever for Tynecastle’s costume, but Nielsen believes Gordon’s influence extends to the attacking third, as well as excluding the opposition.

“We’ve come to expect this from Craig,” Nielsen explained.

“She is one of the reasons we can be so broad, because we know it’s going to take a decent effort to defeat her.

“We want to try and entertain, we want them to enjoy it and we have players here who can do it.

“We started the game very well and then we missed the penalty and Ross County came into the game.

“There was a 10-minute time where they put us under a lot of pressure, then we were able to get the goal back and the second half was ahead.

“We had about 2,000 fans and I think we entertained them.”

Ross County Boss Malky Mackay Echoing that feeling, it was a great game to watch.

“I think it’s going to be a great game for a neutral team,” he said.

“It simply came to our notice then.

“We were obviously playing against the third-best team in the country and we actually stood firm and took the game to them and tried to win the match till the last minute.

“We had some great opportunities and I’m very proud of them and where we’ve come from since the start of the season.

“It simply came to our notice then. We got a chance in the second half from a few yards. I never knew how Craig Gordon saved it.

“We also had two that came out of the post, so I’m really happy with the steps they’ve taken this year.”

What next?

Ross County travels to Aberdeen, while Harts hosts the Hibs in the Edinburgh Derby, with both Scottish Premiership games starting at 3pm on 9 April.

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