17 Feb Jason Naismith rescues point for struggling Ross County
Jason Naismith rescued a vital point for Ross County as they came from behind to draw 1-1 with Hearts and close the gap at the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership to two points.
The visitors had taken the lead through Kyle Lafferty early in the second half but were pegged back when Naismith lashed home a loose ball in the 76th minute.
Hearts started the game brightly when Demetri Mitchell was allowed to roam free down the left before picking out Joaquim Adao 25 yards from goal. The Angolan midfielder unleashed a thunderous shot which forced goalkeeper Scott Fox to tip the ball around his left-hand post for a corner.
But County responded positively with Davis Keillor-Dunn sending an inviting pass across the face of the box which found Naismith on the edge of the 18-yard area. However, a lack of composure resulted in the full-back blasting the ball well over the crossbar.
County continued to press forward when Marcus Fraser launched a long ball from his own half which found David Ngog who raced towards goal. He was only denied a shot by an excellent tackle from John Souttar, who took the ball away from the Frenchman’s feet.
Ngog turned his marker from Keillor-Dunn’s pass and charged forward before finding Jim O’Brien on the edge of the box but his shot was blocked by Souttar, who cleared from danger again.
Former Liverpool striker Ngog provided another chance for County just before half-time when his header allowed Alex Schalk space down the right and he cut inside before sending a shot inches wide.
Hearts stamped their authority on the second half and almost took the lead immediately after the break when Don Cowie’s corner sailed into the box to find Souttar at the far post but his effort was well saved by Scott Fox.
Goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin’s clearance from his own box sailed over Ross County’s defence and found Cowie who was brought down by Liam Fontaine 25 yards from goal, earning the former Hibs defender a booking.
Northern Ireland international Lafferty broke the deadlock with a powerful free-kick which he drove into the bottom left-hand corner.
County should have equalised minutes later when Keillor-Dunn was unchallenged six yards from goal and connected with a Chris Routis cross from the right but blasted over the bar.
But they did level in the 76th minute when a challenge between Schalk and Cowie saw the ball ricochet across the face of goal to find Naismith who fired a powerful low drive past McLaughlin into the bottom right-hand corner to share the points.