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Ross County remain in hunt for top six after draw with Hearts

Barrie McKay missed a penalty but equalised for Hearts after County took the lead.

Ross County remain in hunt for top six after draw with Hearts SNS Group

Ross County kept their hopes of a top-six cinch Premiership spot alive after holding third-placed Hearts to a 1-1 draw.

Alex Iacovitti put the hosts ahead but Hearts were quickly back on level terms through Barrie McKay.

An entertaining first half gave way to a battle of wills as legs started to tire.

Hearts had missed a penalty and the Staggies had hit the woodwork before Iacovitti fired the opener past Craig Gordon.

McKay, who had earlier missed that spot kick, made amends with an equaliser though, before the game fizzled out when the frantic pace of the match began to take its toll on both sides.

The visitors pressed forward in the early stages in Dingwall and they got a golden chance to open the scoring from the penalty spot.

Connor Randall was adjudged to have taken down McKay inside the penalty area, but when he stepped up to try and convert the spot kick himself it was saved by Ross Laidlaw, who dived low to his right.

The Staggies responded around 10 minutes later at a set piece, as Blair Spittal’s corner was met by Jack Baldwin, only for his header to come back off the post.

In the spell that followed, Harry Paton and Ross Callachan twice had goalbound shots blocked at the last moment, but the pressure would eventually tell as Iacovitti gave County the lead just after the half hour mark, turning in Spittal’s free kick from the right flank.

It should have been 2-0 a minute later, this time from open play, as Spittal received the ball from Jordan White and picked out Regan Charles-Cook completely unmarked at the back post, only for the Grenada international to hit the post.

It was a whirlwind 10 minutes where the Staggies should really have scored more than once, but five minutes before the interval it was Hearts who got on the scoresheet.

McKay made amends for his missed penalty, latching on to Boyce’s blocked shot and firing home at the near post from a tight angle with the help of a deflection.

Five minutes after the restart, County should have regained their lead, only for more heroics at the back from Hearts to keep the scores level.

Craig Gordon was needed to tip Jordan Tillson’s effort on to the post, before somehow managing to recover in time to deny Callachan a tap in as he followed it up.

As the second half wore on though, players on both sides visibly began to tire, which made it a struggle to keep up the constant goalmouth action – and as a result proceedings somewhat fizzled out into a draw.