- 1st in Big 12
Ross County down and out after St Johnstone draw
Ross County were relegated from the Ladbrokes Premiership after a late David Wotherspoon strike saw them held to a 1-1 draw at St Johnstone.The Staggies needed to better Partick Thistle's result at Dundee if they were to avoid automatic relegation in the final match of the season.With Thistle drawing at Dens Park, Craig Curran's early goal looked as though it might give the visitors a lifeline in their bid to beat the drop.However Kris Doolan's strike for the Jags midway through the second half turned the afternoon on its head before Wotherspoon's late hit ensured the Highlanders' six-year stay in the top flight would come to an end.With their top-flight status at stake, the Staggies wasted no time in pushing forward and took a fortuitous lead in the third minute.Jason Naismith drove a low effort from outside the area and, with the ball going wide, it deflected off a stray leg and into the path of Curran at the far post who poked it under Alan Mannus despite calls for offside to give the visiting fans a glimmer of hope.Scott Tanser clipped an effort just over for the hosts but they were not at the races in the opening half hour, and could have been two down as Mattias Kait crashed one against the bar from just outside the area with Mannus beaten, before Curran almost caught him out in a one-way first half that saw the hosts manage just one shot.Tommy Wright introduced Stefan Scougall after the break in a bid to increase the home team's tempo and threat in attack.County remained on the front foot, though, and almost scored a carbon copy of the early goal when Naismith drilled a low effort through a mass of bodies and wide before Jamie Lindsay hit a free-kick straight down the middle.The vocal County fans suddenly fell into a hush as news travelled through that Thistle had taken the lead at Dundee, but their side continued to impress on the pitch.The lively Gardyne dispossessed Jason Kerr on the left before hitting wide of the near post from a tight angle, before Liam Fontaine's free header was blocked with 10 minutes to go.Chris Millar came on for his 323rd and final appearance for Saints and the game looked to be fizzling out until Wotherspoon hit a half-volley through a crowd of bodies and beyond a despairing Scott Fox in injury time to confirm Ross County's fate.
- PA Sport
Simon Murray strike leaves Ross County deep in danger
Ross County's survival hopes remain hanging by a thread after a 1-0 loss at home to Dundee.Results elsewhere in the Ladbrokes Premiership - with Partick Thistle losing to Motherwell - mean the Staggies remain two points away from a play-off spot and cannot escape the bottom two.Simon Murray grabbed the decisive goal at the Global Energy Stadium with just his third for Dundee and first since February, which means the visitors have confirmed their status in the top flight beyond all doubt.The defeat means County must beat St Johnstone on Saturday and hope Thistle fail to win if they are to avoid automatic relegation.The hosts flew out of the traps and were almost ahead after just 90 seconds, only for Billy McKay to be flagged for offside after stabbing in a free-kick at the far post.The Staggies stayed on top for the opening 15 minutes but missed the best chance of the half when Davis Keillor-Dunn's superb corner found Liam Fontaine at the back post. The defender ran on to the ball but could only volley wide before blaming the sun for getting in his eyes.Dundee slowly grew into the game and ended the first half on top, but it was a game low on quality and severely affected by a series of full-blooded challenges.The Staggies came flying out of the blocks again after the break and should have scored in the first minute of the half.Jason Naismith did well to lift a ball in to the far post from the byline to an unmarked Keillor-Dunn but the forward tried to volley in when he could have stooped to head it and the ball sailed well over the bar.They were made to pay and it was Randy Wolters - on his first league start since October - who created the goal.The winger delivered a wicked cross from the left that bounced in the six-yard box and Murray reacted quickest to flick the ball in with his head.Keillor-Dunn headed straight at Elliot Parish after drifting off his marker as the hosts threw men forward but they were struggling to make regular inroads as Dundee forced them out wide.Their best chance fell to the experienced David Ngog who sliced wide and Michael Gardyne was booked for diving in the box.Paul McGowan curled one against the bar at the other end and Murray missed a golden chance to wrap it up when one-on-one but the visitors held on to leave Ross County deep in trouble.
- PA Sport
Partick Thistle held by Ross County as relegation battle goes down to wire
The bottom two in the Ladbrokes Premiership Partick Thistle and Ross County remain deep in the relegation mire following their a 1-1 draw at the Energy Check stadium at Firhill.Jags attacker Chris Erskine volleyed in a Kris Doolan cross after 22 minutes, but against the run of play Staggies striker Billy Mckay levelled three minutes before the break for the league's basement club.However, with no more goals in the second half County remain two points adrift of Thistle with only two fixtures remaining.Fellow relegation battlers Dundee and Hamilton, both three points ahead of the Maryhill men in the relegation play-off spot, meet at Dens Park on Saturday as the battle for survival comes to the boil.Thistle started the night with conviction and striker Conor Sammon had the ball in the net within minutes, but long after referee Kevin Clancy's whistle had sounded for a foul on County captain Marcus Fraser.The Jags were more aggressive and purposeful and their lead was deserved.Dingwall defender Harry Souttar missed the flight of a long ball, leaving Doolan to race down the left and cross for the unmarked Erskine to hammer the ball past goalkeeper Scott Fox from eight yards out.The goal served to increase the tempo of the match and shake County out of their slumber.Moments later defender Liam Fontaine headed a Michael Gardyne free-kick into the hands of Jags keeper Tomas Cerny, but the home side were not long in driving forward again looking for the second.However, to their frustration, they found themselves pegged back when, after the Thistle rearguard failed to clear another Gardyne free-kick from the right, Fontaine hooked the ball back into the Thistle box and Mckay pounced to slam the ball past Cerny from close range.It was a goal which must have irked Thistle boss Alan Archibald and he sent his side out to make amends in the second half.However, County were less inclined to let them have their own way and Cerny did well to parry wide a powerful Gardyne drive before Mckay headed a Fraser cross wide.Tension increased by the minute, mostly among the home supporters in a crowd of 4,312 who saw County grow in confidence.Partick's defending became nervy and in the 74th minute Gardyne flashed a drive from the edge of the box just over the bar.In the 84th minute, as the home side rallied, County keeper Fox made a good fingertip save from a drive from substitute Miles Storey and, in a frantic finale, he blocked Danny Devine's header before referee Kevin Clancy brought an end to a gruelling battle.
- PA Sport
Davies makes goalscoring return as Ross County draw against Hamilton
Andrew Davies scored the equaliser for strugglers Ross County as they claimed a vital point in a back and forth 2-2 draw against Hamilton at Dingwall.County had claimed the lead through Jamie Lindsay midway through the first half before two goals in three minutes for the Accies swung the game in the visitors' favour.However, on his return from a calf injury, Staggies captain Davies headed a vital equaliser - although the point did not see County moved from the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership table.County started brightly with a good intensity going forward and their quick angled passes often released players into space - in particular Jason Naismith down the right flank.Alex Schalk had a shot from just outside the box in the 11th minute, which Woods in the Hamilton goal appeared to have covered, but a swirling wind carried the ball away from the stopper. He got enough of a hand to it to force it wide but it could easily have ended up in the back of the net.County soon got on the scoresheet, though, when a long ball forward was excellently controlled by Billy McKay into the path of Naismith, whose shot was deflected into the path of Lindsay, who made no mistake in the 23rd minute.Hamilton were awarded a penalty in the 49th monute and Douglas Imrie, who had just come on as a substitute at the interval, calmly put it away to level the scores at 1-1.Minutes later the visitors were ahead when Marios Ogkmpoe found space on the edge of the box and got a shot away. It should have been saved by County keeper Aaron McCarey, but he let it slip past him and the visitors were in front seven minutes after half time.The game threatened to fizzle out from there, but County substitute Craig Curran won a corner with 15 minutes left on the clock and Schalk stepped up to put the ball on a plate for Davies to get on the scoresheet in the 76th minute.County then went on the front foot again looking for a winner, with Michael Gardyne coming on for Marcus Fraser.And County's two subs nearly linked up to find a winner - a floated Gardyne cross finding Curran unmarked at the far post, but the latter only managing to fire over from a tight angle.
- PA Sport
Kilmarnock extend unbeaten run against strugglers Ross County
Two late goals were not enough for Ross County as new co-managers Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell saw their side beaten 3-2 by Kilmarnock in their first game in charge in the Ladbrokes Premiership.Billy McKay and Alex Schalk scored in the last five minutes but goals from Lee Erwin, Kris Boyd and Eamonn Brophy sealed another three points at home for Killie who went nine games unbeaten.Erwin opened the scoring after a quarter of an hour before Boyd netted his 14th league goal of the season. Brophy grabbed a birthday goal to finish things off.Ferguson and Kettlewell took over from Owen Coyle last week but defeat here, coupled with Partick Thistle picking up a point at home to Aberdeen, leaves the Highland club eight points from safety.Erwin could have put the home side ahead with his first attempt of the day after less than 10 minutes, but saw his left-footed shot saved well by Aaron McCarey.A neat one-two between Greg Kiltie and Stephen O'Donnell on the edge of the County box allowed the full-back to find the striker in acres of space in the middle of the area, but McCarey was quickly down to his left to parry it away.Erwin did grab the goal his early energy merited, when he directed a half-volley into the bottom corner from O'Donnell's cross, in a move started by the resurgent Boyd.The home side were buoyant for a spell shortly after their goal but eventually their tempo dropped. County offered nothing going forward and repeatedly conceded possession in the middle of the park.Kilmarnock were content to sit off them and wait for any mistakes and were in no hurry to rush the ball themselves, but for a late flurry on the stroke of half time when Aaron Tshibola headed over and Rory MacKenzie had a long range sail too high.Boyd tucked home from inside the box to keep up his record of scoring in every game in March for Killie, before the away side even any chance to put what Ferguson and Kettlewell had said in the dressing room at half-time into practice.The veteran striker almost doubled his account in the 55th minute when he was slid through one-versus-one with McCarey inside the box but this time the keeper was equal to his effort.Boyd's job for the day was done after 71 minutes and his replacement Brophy rifled home the third after he burst free down the right, interchanged with MacKenzie on the edge of the box and fired a shot high past the helpless McCarey.McKay capitalised on miscommunication in the Kilmarnock defence to score with the away side's first shot on target. With the seconds ticking down County grabbed another through Schalk when the home defence failed to deal with Michael Gardyne's cross but it was too little too late.
- PA Sport
Dundee 1-4 Ross County
Alex Schalk scored twice to end Ross County's long run without a win with a 4-1 victory at Dundee.The Staggies were without a win since the start of November - a run stretching 13 matches - and started the day six points adrift at the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership.Davis Keillor-Dunn opened the scoring before Kerr Waddell equalised, but Schalk struck twice and Tim Chow scored late on to give the visitors a first win since the start of November and breathe life into their fight against relegation.Right from the first whistle, County looked in a confident mood despite their recent run and they started the game on the front foot.Schalk was at the centre of things and almost got an assist in the second minute after holding the ball up in the area before Keillor-Dunn's curling effort was tipped over after a fine move.Schalk then bullied Kevin Holt into a mistake in the corner, before pulling the ball back to David N'Gog who spooned his shot over from close-range when he should have scored to give the visitors a deserved lead.That was as good as it got for either side in the first-half as Dundee slowly grew into the game but offered very little threat in front of goal.The second half started much the same as the first, and after Elliott Parish saved brilliantly from N'Gog, the deadlock was finally broken through the lively Keillor-Dunn.The winger picked the ball up from the corner and his curling effort dropped into the far corner to give the visitors a deserved lead in the 49th minute.It did not last long however as Dee scored with their first real effort on target.After winning a corner on the break, Paul McGowan swung a high cross into the box and Waddell climbed high at the back post to head down and into the bottom corner before the visitors turned the game on its head with two goals in quick succession.First Schalk latched onto a mistake from Lewis Spence at the back before finishing coolly. Three minutes later, a smart backheel from Keillor-Dunn played the attacker through and Schalk once again was clinical to open up a 3-1 lead and secure his second successive brace.Chow completed a convincing win with a fine finish through the legs of Parish to give Owen Coyle's side an important three points to close the gap at the bottom.
- PA Sport
Ross County 2-4 Aberdeen
Three goals in a devastating eight-minute first-half spell saw Aberdeen secure all three points in Dingwall despite a late rally from Ross County.Kenny McLean and Adam Rooney hit doubles as Aberdeen piled on the misery for the Ladbrokes Premiership bottom club and moved into second.County substitute Alex Schalk netted twice himself but it was too little, too late as Owen Coyle's side went 13 games without victory with a 4-2 defeat.The Staggies started brightly when Chris Eagles had an early chance when he was allowed to burst forward from midfield and launch a powerful low drive which went inches past the post from 20 yards.They came closer when Harry Souttar beat the Aberdeen defence at a Davis Keillor-Dunn corner to launch a powerful header towards goal, forcing a fine save from Danny Rogers.Aberdeen responded when Andrew Considine's cross was inches away from finding Niall McGinn's foot for a tap-in.However the Dons killed off the game with a flurry of goals. They took the lead in the 28th minute after Considine controlled the ball on the left wing and passed to Ryan Christie in the box. He set up Kenny McLean, whose powerful shot from 15 yards deflected off County debutant Liam Fontaine into the back of the net.Three minutes later Aberdeen were awarded a penalty when, after great interplay with Niall McGinn in the box, Christie was brought down by Tim Chow. Rooney stepped up to the spot and sent Fox the other way.County's defence was in meltdown and they conceded a third four minutes later when Fontaine and Ross Draper were caught unaware by McGinn's cross from the left wing to allow Rooney to storm in between them and score from six yards.The Staggies' evening was summed up in the 64th minute when goalkeeper Fox was caught unaware in possession as McLean nicked the ball from his feet and ran round him before firing into the net.County pulled one back with 13 minutes remaining when Craig Curran's flick into the box found Schalk who fired past Rogers from six yards.The deficit was reduced to two when Curran played provider again when another flick-on got the better of the Aberdeen defence and found Schalk onside. He drove into the box and fired a low drive past Rogers to give County hope but they were unable to threaten the goal further.
- PA Sport
Motherwell 2-0 Ross County
Harry Souttar endured a nightmare Ross County debut as his headed own goal sent Motherwell on their way to a 2-0 victory at Fir Park.The 19-year-old powered Andy Rose's dangerous cross into the top corner under little pressure hours after signing on loan from Stoke.The goal came right at the end of a poor first half and Motherwell drilled home their advantage when Curtis Main netted his first goal for the club just after the restart.The Lanarkshire club had become something of an internet phenomenon this week with their pastiche of Manchester United's Alexis Sanchez video attracting several million views on social media.But the piano-playing star of the viral video, Peter Hartley, was suspended after making his loan move from Blackpool a permanent transfer and they got back to the more serious business of recording their first Ladbrokes Premiership win since November 18 to move back into the top six.County started with Souttar and fellow new signing David Ngog on the bench but the defender only had to wait six minutes for his debut after skipper Andrew Davies limped off.The former Dundee United player and his new team-mates largely kept Motherwell at bay until his faux pas, although Nadir Ciftci had come close with a deflected strike and Craig Tanner's free-kick dipped just too late.County rarely threatened but Inih Effiong was not far away with a shot on the turn.Motherwell had a penalty appeal rejected when Chris Cadden's cross appeared to hit Michael Gardyne's hand moments before Souttar's intervention.County then found themselves two down inside two minutes of the restart as Motherwell's new strike pairing combined to good effect. Ciftci robbed Marcus Fraser on the right wing and delivered a teasing low cross which Main dinked first time over Aaron McCarey.County soon brought on former Liverpool striker Ngog and they started testing the Motherwell defence around the hour mark.Ross Draper twice threatened with headers but was denied by a reaction stop by Trevor Carson and a goal-line clearance from Main.Motherwell threatened sporadically on the break and some Tanner free-kicks caused anxiety among the visitors and they were relatively comfortable at the back as the game progressed.Ngog had a sight of goal but sliced wide from 18 yards as bottom club County remained without a victory since beating Motherwell on November 4.
- PA Sport
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