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.
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.
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.
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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