Mesh implants ‘like a hot poker getting twisted around inside you’

Campaigners are angry at the long wait for consultation before they can have life-changing surgery.

STV News

Women desperate to have their mesh implants fully removed are facing huge delays for life-changing surgery, according to campaigners.

The Scottish Government has promised to fund their treatment overseas or by specialists in England, but patients have been told they must first wait up to two years for an NHS consultation.

Many of the women – who had implants fitted to treat pelvic or urinary problems – are suffering from severe daily pain and have “lost faith” with surgeons at home.

Instead, they want to travel to America to have the operation carried out by the renowned expert Dr Dionysios Veronikis.

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But unless they are willing to wait to be referred to him through the health service, they face having to foot the £20,000-plus bill themselves.

‘I’d sooner go through childbirth’

A demonstration is being held outside the New Victoria Hospital in Glasgow on Wednesday by campaigners, who describe themselves as “human guinea pigs”.

One of the organisers, Nancy Honeyball, 52, told STV News that she was suffering from pain worse than “childbirth without gas and air or drugs”.

Ms Honeyball, from Dunoon, has undergone two unsuccessful operations to fully remove mesh she first had implanted 11 years ago and is among those who want to see Dr Veronikis.

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Nancy Honeyball is desperate to have surgery in America.
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She said: “It feels like you’re getting sliced and I would sooner go through childbirth again with no gas and air and no drugs. The pain is chronic, it’s there all the time and you can’t switch off, it exhausts me.

“Some days I don’t get out of bed. I’ve got to use walking sticks and I have a chair, and when I get up I’m off balance.

“It’s like a stabbing, like a hot poker inside you that’s getting twisted around.”

‘It’s a nightmare’

Health secretary Humza Yousaf announced in July that mesh patients would receive funding to get the surgery from Dr Veronikis in Missouri or from Spire Health Care in Bristol, which are both close to signing Scottish Government contracts.

Dr Veronikis previously offered to travel to Scotland to perform the complex removal operations, but later withdrew the offer, claiming his “goodwill had been abused”.

Campaigners are angry about the latest delays and intend to make their point during Wednesday’s demonstration.

Ms Honeyball said: “If I don’t keep fighting and hoping I’m going to get to America, then what is the point?

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“A lot of women have lost their marriages, their jobs, their homes, or their kids don’t talk to them because they say ‘you’re crazy, you only talk about mesh’.

“But if you’re living that experience, it’s a nightmare. The only people who understand are other ‘meshes’.”

“The sooner I can get this poison out of my system, the sooner I can get back to trying to live.”

What is the government saying?

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Any woman who has suffered pain and life-changing complications caused by mesh implants should have access to the best possible care, and we recognise the serious distress that may have led women to using their own funds to seek mesh removal surgery privately.

“This legislation aims to help those who have undergone private treatment by allowing these past costs to be refunded.

“We know some women feel let down by the NHS when they presented with complications. We are working to build confidence in our Scottish services, and the national specialist mesh removal centre in Glasgow has offered mesh removal surgery to over 30 women, together with important wraparound care.

“Nonetheless, alternative options will be available to those who feel unable to be treated in Scotland, achieving the ultimate objective of ensuring all people get the treatment and care that they need.

“The NHS National Services Scotland procurement exercise for mesh removal services outside of the NHS has identified two preferred bidders: Spire Healthcare in Bristol and Dr Veronikis, in Missouri, USA. It is hoped that contracts can be finalised shortly.” 


Anti-viral Covid-19 pill needs ‘rethink’ over Omicron variant

Professor Chris Whitty said the rollout of the pill will need to be reconsidered.

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Rethink: Anti-viral pill for Covid-19 needs to be targeted 'in the right direction'.

An anti-viral pill for Covid-19, which was approved for use in the UK, needs a “rethink” because of the Omicron variant, England’s chief medical officer has said.

Molnupiravir, which can be taken at home, is for people who have had a positive Covid test and have at least one risk factor for developing severe illness, such as obesity, being over the age of 60, diabetes or heart disease.

Professor Chris Whitty said its rollout needs to be reconsidered to make sure it is targeted “in the right direction”.

It was approved for use in the UK on November 4.

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Prof Whitty told a Downing Street press conference on Saturday: “On the anti-virals, we are going to have to do a bit of a rethink on the basis of this new variant, just to be confident we’ve got the right indications from it.

“There’s a variety of ways you could use it in different ways, and what we need to make sure is whatever stock we’ve got of these, what appear to be highly effective drugs, that we use in the most effective way and for the right people.

“Where you are in the pathway right from the very beginning… working out their place, we do need to think through and I think we probably need to do a rethink of it just to make sure with the new variant, we’re targeting in the right direction.”

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had previously said the drug is safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospital admission and death in people with mild to moderate Covid who are at extra risk from the virus.

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The drug, from Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), works by interfering with the virus’s replication and prevents it from multiplying by keeping levels low in the body.

It was announced last month that 480,000 courses of molnupiravir had been secured after a study found it cut the rate of hospital admission and death by 50% in mild to moderately ill patients who had at least one risk factor for the disease.

The UK was the first country in the world to approve it for use, and it was described as a “gamechanger” by Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said: “How much Omicron would impact on the anti-viral use depends largely on the anti-viral.

“I suspect that most effective therapies such as dexamethasone would not be particularly affected by Omicron as this drug targets the body’s response to the virus, not the virus.

“Drugs that inhibit viral replication, such as the recently licensed molnupiravir, could drive mutation of the virus such that Covid develops anti-viral resistance – we do see this with anti-virals with other viruses.

“However, it would be surprising that such anti-viral resistance would develop before use of these drugs. Consequently I doubt Omicron would be more resistant to this class of anti-virals.

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“However those drugs that are based on monoclonal antibodies are likely to be less effective against a heavily mutated virus.

“I personally do not think that the Omicron will dramatically affect our treatment strategies, with the exception of the monoclonal antibodies, because of their probable reduced effectiveness.”


SSE urge customers without power to ‘order a takeaway’ on them

The company made the offer as tens of thousands of homes remain without power for a second night.

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SSE have urged customers who are without power for a second night to ‘order a takeaway’ on them.

The energy company made the offer as tens of thousands of homes faced the prospect of a second night without electricity after Storm Arwen battered Scotland.

A rare red weather warning was issued from Friday at 3pm until Saturday at 2am as strong winds up to 90mph damaged houses, caused travel chaos and left hundreds of thousands of homes without power. 

Greg Clarke, spokesperson for SSE, told STV News: “Storm Arwen has resulted in significant damage to the overhead electricity network across the north of Scotland, predominantly in the north east, Moray coast, Aberdeenshire Tayside and Perth. 

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“We’ve experienced hundreds of faults of the overhead network as a result of fallen trees, fallen branches and debris.

“It’s brought significant damage and it’s been a real challenge for our engineers, who are working hard on getting people back onto supply today. 

“At the peak, we had over 100,000 customers off supply, at the moment we’re down to about 60,000 customers who are still off supply and they are generally concentrated in the north-east. 

“Our teams will continue to work hard throughout the course of today and into this evening to try and restore power to as many customers as possible. 

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“Some people will unfortunately remain off supply overnight again.”

The company has urged vulnerable customers to contact them on 105 so they can offer assistance to those most in need.

Hot food and drinks have also been supplied to the main areas affected, Mr Clarke said.

However as a goodwill gesture, he urged customers to order a takeaway which SSE will later reimburse. 

“We would encourage customers who are off supply to get themselves a takeaway, keep the receipt and we will look to reimburse them in full as a result of the fact that they are without power,” Mr Clarke added. 

“It’s been the perfect storm, so to speak, our customers have been extremely patient and we would like to thank them for their patience and apologise for the clear inconvenience.”


Hamilton knocked out of Scottish Cup by lowly Auchinleck Talbot

Accies suffered one of the worst results in the club's history.

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Graham Wilson's goal gave Talbot a famous victory.

Hamilton suffered one of the worst results in their history as West of Scotland League side Auchinleck Talbot claimed their scalp in the third round of the Scottish Cup.

Part-time Talbot play four tiers below the Accies in the Scottish football pyramid system but they belied that gulf at Beechwood Park to claim a deserved 1-0 victory through Graham Wilson’s strike on the hour mark.

It is a hugely embarrassing defeat for Stuart Taylor’s team and worse than the loss Hamilton suffered at Highland League Buckie Thistle in 2001 when Accies were in the Third Division.

Talbot are no strangers to a cup upset, however, having knocked Ayr out of the competition two years ago.

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Clydebank and Banks O’Dee also made the headlines. Strikes from Jamie Darroch and Nicky Little saw the Bankies defeat Clyde 2-0, while the Dee also claimed a famous 2-1 win over League One East Fife.

Junior North Superleague side Banks O’Dee came from behind to win at Spain Park via goals from Liam Newton and Mark Gilmour. Jamie Semple had put East Fife in front while the visitors finished with nine men after Aaron Dunsmore and Scott Mercer were sent off.

Championship leaders Kilmarnock won 1-0 at Queen’s Park thanks to Euan Murray’s goal just before half-time, while the all-Championship clash between Inverness and Morton finished 1-1 as Gavin Reilly cancelled out Billy McKay’s early goal for the hosts.

Euan Henderson scored a hat-trick as Alloa comprehensively beat Lowland League leaders Bonnyrigg Rose 5-0 and Peterhead were 3-0 winners at Civil Service Strollers. Dumbarton are also safely through after a 3-1 success against Sauchie Juniors.

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Roy McAllister’s stoppage-time equaliser earned League One leaders Cove Rangers a replay with a 2-2 draw against Championship club Queen of the South.

Gala Fairydean pushed Annan all the way but Aiden Smith’s strike was enough for a 1-0 victory for the League Two side.

Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale also lost by a single goal as Edinburgh City went through with a 2-1 win. 


Neilson relieved as Hearts pushed all the way by St Mirren

The win at Tynecastle moved Hearts up to second in the league.

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Neilson said the first goal in the game was key to victory.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson was thrilled to see his team climb up to second in the Cinch Premiership but admitted they were made to work for the three points in the 2-0 win against 10-man St Mirren.

The Gorgie outfit rode their luck before breaking the deadlock in the second half through Gary Mackay-Steven.

Stephen Kingsley doubled Hearts’ lead with a sublime free-kick to ensure the hosts bounced back from last weekend’s defeat at Motherwell.

However, Neilson candidly acknowledged St Mirren, who registered 19 attempts on goal, made life difficult for his team.

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Neilson said: “We’re pleased to be second, we had a chance to do it last week and didn’t do it and had a chance to do it today and managed to get there.

“For us it’s more about winning games and we’ve been doing really well at Tynecastle.

“St Mirren are a very good team, they press really well, they stop you trying to play and they’ve got three players up front that can really influence the game in Eamonn Brophy, Jamie McGrath and Connor Ronan.

“They’re a threat, I think they’ll take points off a lot of teams, they’ll win a lot of games this season.

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“We knew first half they would come and do that, then it’s up to us to try and play through it.

“In these games the first goal is always going to be key, we managed to get it and then they need to open up and then we can go and play.”

Neilson, meanwhile, allayed fears Beni Baningime had suffered a serious injury after the midfielder was forced to leave the pitch on a stretcher in the second half.

He added: “I think he will be alright.

“He is up and walking about and showering. I think he just got more of a shock at the time.

“He twisted his knee a wee bit and the physio went on and he was stretchered off so he will be getting a bit of stick if he is training tomorrow.”

St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin, who had skipper Joe Shaughnessy sent off in stoppage time for a second booking, admits his team need to be more ruthless when they are on top.

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He said: “The big frustration for me is at 0-0 we’re the better team.

“I’m not saying we were miles better but I thought we were on top for the first 45 minutes, we pressed Hearts aggressively up the pitch, we played some good football and probably had the better opportunities.

“Those key moments in the games are really coming back to bite us.

“Same last week against Livingston, we should have been two or three up and get done with a sucker punch in the last minute.” 


McPake dedicates win over Motherwell to Dundee great Doug Cowie

Club legend Cowie has died at the age of 95.

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McPake saw Dundee beat Motherwell 3-0.

James McPake dedicated Dundee’s convincing cinch Premiership win over Motherwell to club great Doug Cowie.

Cowie, who has died aged 95, was the club’s record appearance holder in a glittering career at Dens Park.

Manager McPake admitted he spoke of Cowie before the game with his players responding in the right manner, scoring two goals in the first half through Luke McCowan and Danny Mullen with Ryan Sweeney sealing the victory with a third after the break.

McPake said: “I think it was a fitting tribute to the club’s record appearance holder.

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“You could feel the atmosphere in the stands before the game. We used it in our team talk for Doug and the result was a fitting tribute to a real legend at this football club.

“First and foremost that’s at the top of our minds and that’s what the win was for.”

McPake had been absent from Dens earlier this week after suffering from illness and he thanked the rest of his staff for preparing the team without him.

He said: “There has to be a special mention to my coaching staff because I haven’t been here for the last two days.

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“So maybe I should just stay away and turn up on a Saturday! But credit to them as I have been off ill.”

McPake was understandably pleased with the result and performance but was still irked that the officials had chalked off a goal for offside against Mullen before his strike that counted.

McPake said: “I am annoyed because Danny deserved more than what he got.”

Motherwell boss Graham Alexander was bitterly disappointed, especially as his side approached the game following back-to-back wins over Aberdeen and Hearts.

Alexander said: “Everything we were last week, we weren’t today in all the basics of football.

“I thought we were at 80 per cent and if we think that 80 per cent is good enough then hopefully today we will learn it is not.

“Every single challenge, action and thought process was clearly not good enough and that’s from the start, not just the first goal.

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“We didn’t approach the game the way that we did in the previous two.

“The only thing I can look at is mindset. It is not the first time we have thrown in a performance like that against a team that is struggling at the bottom of the league.

“We have seen the heights that this team can reach, last week against Hearts and before that against Aberdeen but we have shown the ugly side of us today.” 


Scotland adopts new travel rules after Omicron variant found in UK

Humza Yousaf said Scotland will adopt the new restrictions announced by the UK Government on Saturday.

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Restrictions: Scotland to follow UK Government on border restrictions.

Scotland will adopt new border restrictions introduced by the UK Government after two cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant were detected in England, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has said.

The two linked cases have been found in Nottingham and Brentwood, Essex, and are believed to have been contracted in southern Africa.

No cases of the new variant have been confirmed in Scotland to date.

Scientists have said they are concerned about the B.1.1.529 variant as it has around 30 different mutations – which is double the number present in the Delta variant.

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Yousaf said confirmation of the Omicron cases in the UK are “a stark reminder that we must not drop our guard”.

Following discussions with UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid and the other devolved administrations, he said Scotland is aligning with the new border restrictions being introduced by the UK Government which will require fully vaccinated arrivals to take a PCR test within two days of arrival and to self-isolate until a negative result is received.

He said the measures will be introduced “as soon as possible” and kept under constant review.

The Scottish Government will also adopt the expanded red list of countries identified by the UK Government.

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“No cases have yet been detected in Scotland,” Yousaf said, “But the fact this new variant is on our doorstep is clearly a worry and we should act as though it is already here.”

He urged Scots to redouble their efforts in protecting themselves against Covid, adding: “There is still much to learn about the Omicron variant.

“Questions remain about its severity, transmissibility and effect on treatments or vaccines, and scientists are working at pace to provide additional information.

“Until more is known we must adopt the precautionary principle and do everything we can to minimise the risk of spreading infection.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that “we all have a part to play in beating” the Omicron variant.

She posted: “There are no confirmed cases of Omicron in (Scotland) yet, but we MUST act as if it’s already here. @scotgov is introducing new requirements for travellers, but we all have a part to play in beating this new threat.

“So wear (masks), wash hands, get vaccines & test before socialising.”

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the new variant could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, as he announced the strengthening of Covid rules at a Downing Street press conference on Saturday evening.

As well as the new rules for travellers, masks will now again become mandatory in shops and on public transport in England and contacts of Omicron Covid cases will have to self-isolate.

Yousaf added: “Throughout the pandemic people in Scotland have been amazing in doing everything possible to get cases down, to protect ourselves, each other and the NHS, and in taking up the offer of a vaccine.

“We must now redouble our efforts to follow the basic rules that have served us well so far in the pandemic – wear a face covering on public transport and in all indoor settings for food and retail; open windows, especially if you have people visiting at home; keep washing your hands regularly and thoroughly.

“Work from home where possible, take regular lateral flow tests and behave sensibly.

“If you have symptoms, self-isolate and take a test.”

He urged anyone who is unvaccinated or is yet to receive their second dose to book an appointment now.

“If you are over 40, you can book your booster jab for six months after your second vaccine dose – please do so,” he added.

“As we head into winter we are facing an as yet unknown risk from this new variant. Let’s once again rise to the challenge and do everything we can to keep everyone safe.”

Earlier, the Scottish Government announced 17 coronavirus-linked deaths and 2287 new cases had been recorded in the past 24 hours.

It means the death toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 9562.

The daily test positivity rate was 8.2%, down from 9.1% the previous day.

There were 53 people in intensive care on Friday with recently confirmed Covid-19, down seven on the day before, and 727 people were in hospital with the virus.

So far, 4,344,043 people have received their first dose of a vaccination, 3,945,451 have had their second, and 1,598,749 have received a third dose or booster.


St Johnstone boss Davidson left to rue Bryson red card

The Perth side were beating Hibs with seven minutes left to play.

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Bryson was sent off for two cautionable offences.

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson admitted Craig Bryson’s red card cost his side the game after they fell to a late 2-1 defeat by Hibernian.

Liam Gordon headed Saints into the lead in the 40th minute of a tight first half in Perth, but Bryson handed Hibs a lifeline in first-half stoppage-time.

The 35-year-old midfielder was on a booking for a foul on Ryan Porteous when he went in for a bouncing ball with a studs-up challenge which left Joe Newell clutching his lower leg. There was zero doubt referee Euan Anderson would get his cards out again and the red followed a second yellow.

Davidson said: “The first half wasn’t a great game, both teams struggled a little bit. It was a bit of a bonus getting the lead, but ultimately the sending-off cost us the game.

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“It was two bookings. He has taken a bad first touch and gone in, and nowadays that sort of tackle turns into a booking. It’s unlike Craig to do that and unfortunately it put our backs against the wall.

“He knows himself. I always thought it would be a tight game. Both teams play similar formations, so it was always going to be one-v-one situations, so to go a man down made it really difficult for us.

“Second half we defended our box really well and Zander (Clark) pulled off one great save, but I thought we were going to get there. We were a little bit sloppy for the last goal.”

Hibs head coach Jack Ross praised his side for keeping the faith as they ended a five-match losing streak in the league.

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They had to be patient, hitting the frame of the goal three times and having two Kevin Nisbet goals disallowed.

But they got there in the end with Jamie Murphy setting up Nisbet to slot home in the 83rd minute before netting himself three minutes later after a brilliant assist from fellow substitute Scott Allan.

Ross said: “With the run we have been on, we would have taken any sort of win, and we got that.

“I also think the manner of the performance was absolutely deserved, in both halves of the game. The result was the be all and end all, but it was a really good performance.

“We spoke beforehand, when you lose that number of games consecutively, sometimes you feel within the group that they are losing faith in what you do. But it’s not felt like that. They have been very upbeat and bright and I think they showed that, even in the first half.

“The second half they had to show a lot of trust because, with the exception of maybe a five-minute spell around 70 minutes when they got a bit frantic, I thought we were excellent and created so many opportunities. Thankfully we got there in the end.”


Teenager found ‘distressed’ in early hours following sexual assault

The 17-year-old was attacked between 2.40am and 3.30am in Paisley on Saturday morning.

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Attack: Teenage girl sexually assaulted in Paisley.

A teenager has been sexually assaulted in the early hours in Renfrewshire. 

The 17-year-old was attacked between 2.40am and 3.30am on Saturday in the area of George Place, Browns Lane and Shuttle Street in Paisley. 

Police are urging people who may have come to the assistance of the teenager, who was found in a ‘distressed’ state, to come forward. 

Detective Inspector Colin MacRitchie said: “We are working to establish the full circumstances of this incident and our initial enquiries with CCTV provide that the area was busy with pedestrians around this time. 

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“It is believed several members of the public may have come to the assistance of a distressed young woman in that area of Paisley town centre who then left before speaking with officers.

“If this was you then please come forward as you may have information which could help our enquiries.

“We are also keen to trace any witnesses or persons with information as to the incident or who may have private CCTV or dashcam footage. 

“Extensive enquiries are ongoing, including door to door enquiries and further study of the available CCTV footage.”

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Anyone with information can call 101, quoting incident 0685 of November 27, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


Ten-man Ross County leave it late to earn point against Dundee United

A stoppage time goal denied United a win in Dingwall.

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Joseph Hungbo scored two minutes into stoppage time.

Ten-man Ross County rescued a last-gasp point with a thoroughly deserved stoppage-time leveller to deny Dundee United the chance to edge past Celtic into third spot in the Premiership.

It looked grim for County when Arsenal loanee Harry Clarke was ordered off by referee Greg Aitken after earning a second yellow card for a foul on Ian Harkes.

But, with 92 minutes on the clock, the never-say-die Staggies were rewarded for their efforts when substitute Joseph Hungbo prodded the ball over the line after skipper Jack Baldwin had looked set to score.

Two months on from the racism row that overshadowed United’s single goal win at Tannadice, the sides resumed hostilities on a bitterly cold afternoon in the Highlands without there appearing to be any lingering animosity.

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Indeed, there was very little to excite the crowd prior to Florent Hoti producing the first shot of the match after 20 minutes which was blocked and then gathered by Ash Maynard-Brewer.

County, fresh from their first home win of the season – a victory over Premier Sports Cup finalists Hibs – were shade sharper and more direct, seemingly ready to pounce and punish any slack defending.

Connor Randall and Regan Charles-Cook posed the biggest threat with their slick combination play and after the latter had attempted to wear his way through a largely tight knit back-four, County very nearly took the lead.

Blair Spittal’s free-kick from the right dropped perfectly for Jack Baldwin to power in a header that cannoned off the near post.

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The ball rebounded for Harry Paton to have a crack and the midfielder forced Ryan Edwards to make a desperate goal-line clearance.

Charlie Mulgrew was also called into action when Charles-Cook threatened to create an opening for himself, eventually conceding a corner kick from the County player’s shot across the face of goal.

Having been victorious in two of their previous three matches following a 10 match winless run, the County players gave the distinct impression that they have developed a new-found confidence.

But that confidence was dented four minutes after the restart when United grabbed the lead.

Peter Pawlett and Ilmari Niskanen combined in the build-up to create an opening for Appere and the striker delivered a scoring left foot shot from close range following a partial scramble.

The goal was more than United’s general play warranted and it had a temporarily deflating effect on the opposition.

But County eventually regrouped and Ben Siegrist had to block an effort from Spittral before then making a save from Baldwin after the defender had headed against the crossbar.

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However, County’s prospects of rescuing a point at last suffered a major set-back when Harry Clarke saw red with quarter-of-an-hour remaining.

Clarke’ heavy challenge on Ian Harkes earned him a second caution and automatic dismissal.


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