Derek Adams declared himself satisfied as his third spell as Ross County manager began with a goalless home draw against Kilmarnock.

County went a 10th game without victory but there were enough encouraging signs for Malky Mackay’s replacement.

The home side had the better chances and James Brown and Connor Randall had efforts cleared off the line in the first half.

Adams, who left Morecambe to return to County on Monday, said: “It was a great start for us. In the first period of the game we started from the centre and went forward and created some really good opportunities.

“Kilmarnock cleared two off the line and the players showed a willingness to get into the penalty area.

“We got a point, but I thought we had the best opportunities to win it.

“We changed things in the formation at the start of the game and at half-time as well to try to get the better of Kilmarnock and to deal with their threat as well, which I thought worked well.

“Over the piece, I have to be pleased with a clean sheet. On the other hand, we could maybe have done better with the chances we did create.”

Killie remain without a Premiership away win but the point kept them in the top six.

Manager Derek McInnes said: “We came here to win but the best players on the pitch were defenders, for both teams.

“I thought Ross County had the best of the first half, but we had the better moments probably in the second.

“I would think that both teams were searching for a bit more quality in the final bit.

“I thought we were worthy of our point, but I don’t think we did enough to win the game.”

Derek McInnes wants a bit more “bravado” from his Kilmarnock side to get their first cinch Premiership win of the season when they face Ross County on Saturday.

The Rugby Park club are sitting sixth in the league after 13 games but are yet to win an away league game this season in six attempts.

Killie go into the game against the Staggies – who will be under new boss Derek Adams for the first time – on the back of a 1-0 defeat by Hibernian at Easter Road before the international break and the Killie boss is looking for better results on the road.

McInnes said: “I can analyse it to death but I think the best gauge for me is level of performance. The level of performance against Hibs was good.

“We have not had a bad performance on the road this season but the results haven’t mirrored our home form.

“We have had a lot of good moments in games and penalty box entries – I think we are fourth in the league behind Hearts and the Old Firm for touches in the opposition box – and we get up the pitch well and move the ball well but at Easter Road we were just looking for that bit of quality.

“The stats show that we don’t get as many shots on target when we are away from home. It is something that can easily be addressed in terms of analysis but in terms of performance it is different to last year.

“Last year we were poor on the road a lot of times, we deserved exactly what we got particularly in the early part of the season.

“This season doesn’t feel the same but obviously we still need to get results on the road and if we get something close to our home form we will be alright.

“But I am not getting caught up with it. I don’t want it to become a thing and hopefully we can go and put in a performance like we did at Easter Road but try to show a bit more quality, try to show a bit more confidence in the final bit, have a bit more bravado about us rather than snatching at things and overthinking things.

“We are a bit more instinctive with our work at Rugby Park and I just feel we get a lot more shots on target when we are at home.

“It is something we have spoken about to the players but I am not getting too caught up in level of performance, they have been decent.”

Hibernian head coach Nick Montgomery described Martin Boyle as a “special player” after the forward provided a superb assist for Josh Campbell to score the only goal of the game against Kilmarnock.

The Australia international, who also had an earlier effort ruled out for offside, sped forward with a forceful run from the centre-circle before teeing up his team-mate from close range.

Campbell’s effort after 36 minutes proved to be decisive as Hibs collected their first cinch Premiership victory in seven outings to move within a point of sixth-placed Killie.

Montgomery said: “Martin is a special player and we have to protect him. Coming off in the semi-final (against Aberdeen) he took a little knock.

“We can’t take risks on a player of Martin’s stature at the club and it was the right decision to leave him on the bench at St Mirren.

“It freshened him up and he has had a disallowed goal, possible penalty call and a couple at the end where he just lost his footing.

“Martin is a big player for us and it’s important that we don’t take risks when it’s not necessary.”

Montgomery admitted he was still reluctant to allow Boyle to join up with Australia after picking up a knee issue in last weekend’s Viaplay Cup semi-final defeat to Aberdeen.

He added: “I’m not the doctor but I will go down and have that conversation. If he’s fit, no problem, he’ll be raring to go with the Socceroos.

“If not, he’ll probably stay. Getting through 90 minutes probably tells you he’ll be desperate to go, and he’s a big player for them as well.

“If it was up to me, he’d stay and we’d rest him! But they’ve got good medical staff there and hopefully it’s two weeks of him recovering for a few days, and getting some minutes.”

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes admits Boyle’s moment of brilliance was the difference between the teams.

He said: “We should have done better in dealing with the initial move when Boyle got on the half turn.

“I saw when he was rested against St Mirren, I thought they should have let him run riot against Stevie’s (Robinson) team and left him on the bench against us.

“He’s the one that makes the difference and his part in the goal was decisive for them.

“The game was decided by a big moment with Boyle at the heart of it.

“But we are disappointed we didn’t manage to take anything from a game I felt we could have.

“We were just looking for those moments of quality.”

Josh Campbell scored the only goal of the game to see off St Johnstone and hand Hibernian head coach Nick Montgomery his first Premiership victory in seven games.

The midfielder slotted home from close range after Martin Boyle did brilliantly to tee up his team-mate.

The result moves the Easter Road club to within a point of sixth place Kilmarnock in the cinch Premiership.

Kilmarnock played well in patches but their long wait for a win in Leith was stretched to 10 games.

In a bright start to the match Jair Tavares went close with a solo effort from outside the area after four minutes.

The Portuguese winger got away from Joe Wright with a neat bit of skill but his curling effort flew just past the top corner.

Hibs forward Boyle then had the ball in the net moments later but the effort was ruled out for offside.

Kilmarnock gave as good as they got during the early exchanges and Liam Donnelly should have done better with a half-volley at the back post that he fired over from a Daniel Armstrong corner.

At the other end, Boyle raced clear after Donnelly had a square pass cut out but the Australia international lost his footing in the box as he was chased down by Stuart Findlay.

But the hosts were not to be denied in the 36th minute as Boyle provided a great assist for Campbell.

The pacey forward spun away in a congested centre circle and rode a cynical challenge from Donnelly that earned the midfielder a retrospective booking.

Boyle then flicked a pass to Campbell inside the area and the midfielder placed a low drive past Will Dennis.

Kilmarnock brought on Matty Kennedy for Donnelly at the break as they looked to get a foothold in the game.

But the visitors struggled to create any meaningful opportunities in a second half that lacked entertainment at both ends.

Tavares went close for Hibs again with an effort from outside the box but Dennis did brilliantly to push the shot round the post for a corner.

With Hibs having surrendered winning positions in their last two league games, tensions grew among the home fans as the match approached the closing stages.

Campbell was denied a second goal in the 86th minute when his stinging drive from outside the box was repelled by Dennis.

Hibs goalkeeper David Marshall then made a save at his near post to keep out Rory McKenzie.

St Johnstone caretaker manager Alec Cleland hailed the reaction of his squad as they defeated Kilmarnock 2-1 in the first match since manager Steven MacLean was sacked.

Nicky Clark scored a double in the first 10 minutes and, although Kyle Vassell pulled a goal back and Dara Costelloe was sent off for the hosts, they held on to secure their first league win at the 10th attempt.

Cleland said: “I’m absolutely delighted because we had to dig deep in the end. Let’s not underestimate Kilmarnock. They pegged us back but we got off to a really good start.

“The fans started getting behind us and we started to get confidence to actually go and play so that was good.

“It was an entertaining game. We had to hang on in the end but we got the three points.

“I was asked to come in and take it for a game and that’s happened. I got a great response from the players and the staff as well who have helped massively.

“It was a joint effort from everybody and the reaction we got off the players and the fans was important as well.

“The league position doesn’t lie but there’s lots of points to play for and we have got a good squad in there so hopefully that can give them the confidence.”

The Saints caretaker also singled out striker Clark for praise after his first goals since last November got the Perth side off to a flying start.

He added: “Nicky (Clark) getting the two goals was brilliant and I think you saw the lift that gave the fans as well.

“Over Nicky’s career, with the clubs he’s been at, you’ve seen that he gets you goals. He’s a threat in the box, he’s got good hold up play and the problem with Nicky was just his niggly injuries.

“Now hopefully the strikers can stay fit and we can get Nicky especially a run in the team.”

Killie boss Derek McInnes bemoaned his side’s slow start as they failed to recover from the two early Clark strikes as they slipped down to fifth in the league.

McInnes said: “We played the ultimate price for such a slow start which is so unusual and unlike us. We’ve had a lot of praise recently for our defensive play and our competitiveness.

“We’ve been really aggressive from the outset. We’ve started games really well and we didn’t.

“St Johnstone have been in a poor place of late. They didn’t need any encouragement. You don’t want to give them a leg up.

“We played the majority of the game in their half but St Johnstone showed good spirit. Particularly when they went down to 10 men.

“I don’t think that particularly helped us because it kept them hemmed in and they defended their box well.

“We kept trying to play through them rather than going around them.

“We didn’t work the goalkeeper enough and we paid the ultimate price for a poor start. From 10 minutes into the game, we were the better team but it doesn’t count for anything because St Johnstone got their goals in that period and they did enough to win the game.”

Managerless St Johnstone finally ended their wait for a first league win of the season as they secured a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Kilmarnock at McDiarmid Park.

In their first match since manager Steven MacLean lost his job, the Saints got off to a dream start with Nicky Clark grabbing a double in the first 10 minutes.

Kilmarnock grew into the game, though, and Kyle Vassell’s volley got them back into the game just after half-time.

The Perth side had to see out the last 15 minutes with 10 men after Dara Costelloe was red-carded for a late tackle on Matty Kennedy but they held on to move within three points of 11th-placed Livingston.

St Johnstone caretaker boss Alec Cleland had made three changes from the side who were hammered by St Mirren in Paisley on Saturday, with Ryan McGowan, Graham Carey and Chris Kane restored to the starting line-up. Meanwhile, Kilmarnock were unchanged from their impressive win over Aberdeen on Sunday.

The Saints had not won in their first nine matches in the cinch Premiership but they flew out of the traps, making the breakthrough after just 42 seconds.

Chris Kane’s initial shot from the edge of the box was saved by Will Dennis but Clark followed up to tap in and give the hosts the lead. The linesman initially chalked the strike off for offside before the decision was reversed following a VAR review.

It soon got even better for the Saints just six minutes later with Clark again on target. It was the simplest of goals, as Carey whipped in an in-swinging free-kick from the left wing that was well met by the head of striker Clark.

Kilmarnock were shell-shocked but they attempted to press forward and Kennedy fired their first effort of note narrowly wide from just outside the box in the 21st minute.

It was St Johnstone who remained on top however and they were inches away from adding a third in the 29th minute through an unlikely source. Captain Liam Gordon advanced forward and unleashed a long-range shot that skimmed the crossbar via a deflection.

The Saints were rampant and Kane was next to try his luck, juggling the ball from the resulting corner before acrobatically volleying onto the roof of the net.

The away side’s next chance didn’t come until the 40th minute as Vassell saw his volley from 10 yards well blocked and Stuart Findlay also came close with a header as a flurry of Kilmarnock corners ended the first half.

Killie had finished the half well and they carried this momentum into the second period, grabbing a lifeline on 47 minutes.

Kennedy delivered a precise cross from the left and Vassell volleyed home from around the penalty spot. Saints keeper Dimitar Mitov got a hand to it but he could only push the ball onto the post and into the net.

After an action-packed first half, the second period was a tighter affair but it was Killie sensing the chance at an equaliser as the game wore on.

Danny Armstrong’s deliveries were causing problems and Joe Wright should have done better with a free header that he steered wide from six yards out in the 71st minute.

St Johnstone’s attempts to see out the game then suffered a blow with 15 minutes remaining as Costelloe was sent off for a reckless late challenge on Kennedy as the winger advanced down the touchline.

Referee Calum Scott initially gave a yellow card before awarding a red after being sent to the screen by VAR Willie Collum.

It looked set up for a grandstand finish but, despite Kilmarnock throwing in a number of crosses, St Johnstone saw out the remainder of the game in relative comfort as they secured a much-needed first league win.

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson took responsibility after his side put in a laboured performance in a 2-0 defeat to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

The Dons failed to create anything of note as goals from Kyle Vassell and Marley Watkins either side of half-time gave Kilmarnock a deserved win.

Robson admitted he should have made more than the one alteration from the side who threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to PAOK on Thursday night in the Europa League.

He said: “We were poor today. In the first half, I didn’t think it was a very good game. They scored right before half-time, which was a bit of a sucker punch for us.

“But the biggest problem was probably my fault. I should have freshened the team up more from Thursday night.

“It was pretty evident that we looked leggy in the first half. We made a change at half-time and tried to change the shape, but it’s hard.

“That was on me. We needed some fresh legs. I think we would have seen a different team today.

“We’re not looking for excuses. We should come down here and try to win the game. We weren’t at our best at all. I should’ve changed it from the start and I think we’d have had a better outcome.”

Aberdeen remained in 10th position in the cinch Premiership and the Dons manager also admitted results have not been at the required level.

He added: “Our league form hasn’t been good enough. It’s been stop-start, with games being cancelled or moved.

“But if you want to play at this level, play in Europe and go far in cups, you need to deal with that.

“We’ve not dealt with it so far, so we need to start doing that better.

“We’ve got a massive game against Motherwell in midweek and if we can go and win at Motherwell, that can race us up the league and then there’s the chance to reach a final against Hibs next weekend.”

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes was delighted with his side’s first clean sheet in nine games as they secured back to back wins in the league for the first time this season.

The home side moved up to fourth place in the league with the impressive victory.

McInnes said: “Everything is better than last season but we spoke at the team meeting about getting more clean sheets. Last week was a clean sheet display but we gave away a penalty.

“We had to deal with two key players missing in Corrie (Ndaba) and Joe (Wright) at the start of the second half. We’ve still got the clean sheet and my keeper hasn’t been too troubled.

“It was a good performance with strong individual performances. I don’t normally like singling boys out but Lewis Mayo was so good, especially with a three v three defensively which was a big test for us.

“It’s nice to follow up a strong display with another and to see us sitting where we are in the league.

“You don’t look at that too much until the first couple of rounds but I want to hang about there for as long as possible.”

Kilmarnock moved up to fourth in the cinch Premiership with a deserved 2-0 victory over a poor Aberdeen at Rugby Park.

Captain Kyle Vassell gave the home side the lead with a superbly taken goal on the stroke of half-time.

And Marley Watkins extended their lead just after the hour mark after a mistake by Dons defender Stefan Gartenmann.

Danny Armstrong also hit the crossbar for the impressive hosts while Aberdeen were toothless throughout as they remained in 10th.

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes made just one change from the side who defeated Livingston last weekend, with Matty Kennedy coming to face his old club in place of Corrie Ndaba.

Aberdeen also made just one change to the side who agonisingly lost to PAOK in the Europa Conference League on Thursday, with Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes replacing Dante Polvara.

In a tight opening period it was the hosts who had the better of the chances, with Kennedy firing straight at Kelle Roos in the seventh minute with the first shot of the match.

Kilmarnock were very nearly in front 10 minutes later as Watkins picked out David Watson in the centre of the box but the midfielder’s shot was deflected over the bar from eight yards.

Kennedy also fired wastefully over in the 24th minute, with Aberdeen’s only chance of the first half coming in a long ball up the field that Duk almost tucked around an onrushing Will Dennis.

It had been a cagey half but the home side had been on top and they made the breakthrough just seconds before referee Kevin Clancy was set to blow his whistle.

A long ball from Dennis was flicked on by Armstrong to Vassell who cut inside Slobodan Rubezic and fired past Roos from just outside the box.

Aberdeen looked to respond after the break and Duk did well to get to the byline but Dennis clawed away to safety.

But it was Kilmarnock who continued to look more likely to add to their advantage. From a short free-kick, Kennedy unleashed a dipping effort that was tipped over by Roos, before Watson headed narrowly wide from the resulting corner.

The impressive Armstrong had been threatening all game and he was inches away from extending the hosts lead in the 62nd minute as he curled against the crossbar from the edge of the box.

Kilmarnock only had to wait two minutes to make it 2-0 though, as a dawdling Gartenmann saw his attempted clearance charged down by Watkins who calmly stroked the ball past Roos.

Aberdeen boss Barry Robson made four substitutions and he looked to get back into the game.

One of the replacements was Ester Sokler and he almost made an instant impact, heading narrowly wide when well found by Duk.

The visitors continued to probe but they never came close to threatening a comeback as Kilmarnock saw out the game comfortably to record a second consecutive home win.

Derek McInnes waxed lyrical about free agent Gary Mackay-Steven but insists training facilities is still all he is being offered at Kilmarnock at the moment.

The 33-year-old winger left Hearts in the summer and is continuing his return to full fitness at Rugby Park following a foot injury.

McInnes was boss of Mackay-Steven at Aberdeen and is still a fan, but does not think “there will be anything imminent” in terms of a potential deal.

“I am delighted to have him,” said the Killie manager.

“Obviously I worked with him before and he did well for me at Aberdeen, and he has shown some lovely touches and has fitted in well with the lads.

“It is good to have him here and if I can help play a part in getting him up to speed then great.

“We are quite open to see where it maybe leads us, but at the minute there is nothing more to report on.

“He got his move to Celtic on the back of some good performances for Dundee United and we managed to buy him at Aberdeen for £150,000 I think it was, and he got involved in the fringes of the international squad.

“We were really keen to keep him at the time, but he got an opportunity to go to the MLS with New York and the whole lifestyle and experience thing won the race.

“He had decent experience out there and came back to Hearts.

“He is a player who can make the difference in certain games and he has always shown that quality.

“He is also a very good finisher and I thought he was terrific for me at Aberdeen, I really enjoyed working with him and he is a good boy.

“So he is someone we have kept in touch with and are giving him a helping hand at this moment in time, but you never know where it can lead.

“I haven’t even had a conversation with the board or anything like that. They know he is training but if it progresses, we will all know soon enough.”

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers praised his players’ resolve in their 3-1 win over Kilmarnock.

Goals from Reo Hatate, Luis Palma and Greg Taylor sent the champions seven points clear at the top of the cinch Premiership and made David Watson’s strike – that made it 2-1 – no more than a consolation.

Rodgers admitted there had been a period of “grieving” following the midweek Champions League defeat to Lazio but credited the squad for not letting it affect them upon their return to league duty.

He said: “I’m really pleased with the performance today off the back of the game during the week.

“We could all touch the pain of that result because our display didn’t merit it.

“But it’s about how you respond. You grieve for 24 hours, I sensed it from everyone, the players and the supporters. But you need to show strength of mentality to get back to winning again.

“We showed that today because we switched back to perform well today. The players deserve credit for that.”

Hatate’s goal crowned an excellent individual performance and Rodgers revealed he had sat down with the Japan international earlier in the week to speak about his intensity levels.

He added: “This was the first game that Reo has come alive for me. He has to press the game and when he is at that level, then he is intense with the ball. He scored a brilliant goal and he was superb.

“I went through things with him the other day. If he wants to get to the highest level, there needs to be more intensity in his game. I took him through clips of his game, all without the ball.

“If you press the game well you will pass it well. But he took it on board, was very open and produced a fantastic performance today. That’s the level, you can’t switch the engine on and off.”

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes felt that Celtic’s second goal, scored by Palma via a ricochet off Hatate, should have been ruled out.

He said: “Having seen the pictures for me it looks offside in the build-up when it bounces back off the Celtic player. So I’m disappointed with that as offside should be clear.

“When I saw it on the big screen I thought he was offside and when VAR were checking it I was expecting it to be chopped off.

“There might be better pictures in the VAR hub so any criticism of that at the minute is a wee bit contained as I’m just viewing it on the pictures that I’ve seen.

“I showed the referee the pictures that I’d seen. But they’re obviously dependent on the people in VAR looking at different angles.

“I saw an angle on my analyst’s laptop. Whether he’s a computer genius and has played around with the lines I don’t know. But it looked offside.”

Celtic bounced back from their Champions League disappointment by defeating Kilmarnock 3-1 at home in the cinch Premiership.

Brendan Rodgers’ men looked eager to atone for their midweek loss to Lazio and were two goals ahead at half-time through Reo Hatate and Luis Palma.

David Watson got one back for Kilmarnock midway through the second period before Greg Taylor added a third to send Celtic seven points clear at the top of the table after a fifth consecutive league win.

Rodgers made two changes from the Lazio match. In came Cameron-Carter Vickers and Palma, with Nathaniel Phillips and Hyun-jun Yang starting on the bench.

Kilmarnock also made two changes from their draw with St Mirren. There were starting places for Robbie Deas and Watson who replaced Innes Cameron and the injured Kyle Magennis.

Celtic started on top and had the ball in the net within five minutes but Kyogo Furuhashi had strayed into an offside position before finishing well.

Kilmarnock’s response was a curling effort from Danny Armstrong that arced beyond the far post before former Killie defender Taylor came close with a half-volley.

Celtic moved in front after 22 minutes after great play from Hatate. The Japanese fastened on to a quick free-kick from Callum McGregor, burst past Watson before finishing low in the corner.

Hatate almost came close to doubling his tally with an acrobatic volley that was well saved before Palma stretched Celtic’s lead after 33 minutes.

The winger attempted a pass to Hatate only for the ball to rebound back to the Honduran who took advantage to smash in an unstoppable shot.

Celtic started the second half again on the offensive and Hatate’s run and shot was deflected narrowly wide of goal by Kilmarnock defender Lewis Mayo.

Hatate then thought he had won a penalty after he and Watson tangled at the edge of the Kilmarnock box. Before it could be taken, however, the VAR, David Dickinson, asked referee Matthew MacDermid to have a second look and the decision was overturned.

Hatate was involved in most of Celtic’s promising attacks and only an alert save from William Dennis prevented him from adding a third goal.

Kilmarnock grabbed an unlikely lifeline after 72 minutes. Vassell and Alistair Johnston clashed as they chased down a long ball but play was allowed to go on and Liam Polworth teed up Watson who finished well.

The visitors passed up a good chance to draw level when Stuart Findlay nodded wide from a free-kick and that proved costly when Taylor tucked in Celtic’s third after Daizen Maeda had flicked on Matt O’Riley’s corner.

Maeda was then denied by Dennis after running the length of the pitch, with James Forrest unable to convert the rebound.

Tony Docherty insisted Josh Mulligan should never have been shown a straight red card in a pulsating cinch Premiership contest withvat Dens Park.

The game was locked at 1-1, after Amadou Bakayoko’s opener for the home side was cancelled out by a Daniel Armstrong penalty, when midfielder Mulligan was given his marching orders by referee David Munro for bringing down the Killie scorer.

After the break, it looked like Armstrong had secured the win for the visitors when he struck again late on but deep in stoppage time, home substitute Zak Rudden pounced to snatch a draw with Killie boss Derek McInnes also shown a red card.

Docherty was pleased with his team’s resilience to come from behind to snatch a point against his former long-time managerial partner’s team.

However, he was fuming over the Mulligan dismissal.

Docherty said: “I’m delighted with my team to come back from a game where you are 2-1 down, down to 10 men and nine minutes to go.

“I thought it was never a red card and I said that to the referee.

“Yes, it was a foul and a booking. It’s about consistency – if that’s the decision for that tackle then there should have been seven or eight red cards today.

“I thought we were harshly treated today but I don’t want to be talking about officials – I want to talk about my team and they showed resilience in absolute spades.”

Derek McInnes admitted he apologised to referee Munro after his “bizarre” red card at the end of the game.

The Killie boss was trying to get the ball back to his players but it had not gone out and the official dismissed him for entering the field of play without permission.

McInnes said: “I was convinced the ball was out and all I was trying to do was get the ball back to my player. I wasn’t trying to stop an attack, I wasn’t trying to be clever.

“The referee said he didn’t want to send me off but it is a technicality as I entered the field of play without permission.

“It was a bit bizarre, to be honest. I am convinced the ball was out but it spun back in. So I have apologised to the referee.”

While disappointed with the red card shown to him, McInnes was more frustrated that his team had not managed to see the game out against the 10 men of Dundee.

The manager added: “We said at half-time that it is not a given when teams go down to 10 men.

“We were just conscious of not giving up set-plays and for us to lose two set-plays, particularly the one at the death, is so disappointing.”

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes revealed he had received an apology from referee Kevin Clancy after his side were denied a late equaliser in a 1-0 defeat to Ross County at Rugby Park.

With just five minutes left, Stuart Findlay looked as if he had cancelled out Simon Murray’s opener when he headed home .

However, referee Clancy had already blown to stop the game and award a penalty to Kilmarnock – which Danny Armstrong the failed to convert.

Clancy had already awarded County a penalty in a dramatic match, but that decision was reversed after VAR Greg Aitken sent the referee to look at the pitchside monitor.

Killie boss McInnes said: “Kevin (Clancy) apologised and admitted he made a huge mistake. These guys are serious about their profession so he will not be feeling good about himself.

“An apology is something. He said he wasn’t expecting Stuart Findlay to score the goal, but it is not his job to expect things.

“We should be expecting the referee to let the phase of play continue as we are told at every meeting.

“That is why VAR is supposed to be there. If he has blown before the ball has crossed the line that is a penalty, but the laws are wrong and we should be able to reverse it.

“The first penalty was also ridiculous. The boy went down too easy and that was also the wrong decision. Thankfully VAR has reversed that call.”

McInnes added: “By his own admission the referee has made a huge mistake. Then to compound things, Danny (Armstrong) has missed the penalty when he has been brilliant from the spot for us.

“It should have been a point, but due to us not being at our best and the referee not being at his best we have nothing from the game.”

Ross County manager Malky Mackay, though, felt the officials had made the right call, but admitted he had sympathy for McInnes.

“I spoke to fourth official Craig Napier about it. He said the referee blew clearly and early after Josh Reid pulled the shirt – which he did,” Mackay said.

“It was a penalty. As soon as he saw it he gave it. That happens before (Stuart) Findlay headed the ball, so it’s a penalty right away.

“That’s what we judge it on. He’s done the correct thing. If I’m Derek I’d be feeling aggrieved – but I feel aggrieved every time a penalty is given right now, but that’s the rules and they were followed.”

Mackay was frustrated his side did not put the game to bed before the late drama, with Jordan White missing a glorious opportunity.

“I’ve got four forwards here I am really happy with. We’ve scored goals so far, but we are also not being clinical enough,” Mackay said.

“We had great chances at Celtic Park, against St Johnstone and against Rangers. We have got to take these chances – I’m not talking about half chances.

“It was a centre-forward’s dream after Jack Baldwin did so well to lay it on a plate six yards out. He needs to stick it in the net, but Jordan (White) doesn’t do it.

“At 2-0 – the place dampens. This is a tough place to come at the best of times.

“But I am really proud of my team, because it’s a real statement of intent coming to Kilmarnock and winning like that.”

Motherwell boss Stuart Kettlewell hailed the resilience of his squad after they battled back from a goal behind to defeat Kilmarnock 2-1 in the cinch Premiership.

Marley Watkins broke the deadlock after 12 minutes and Killie could and should have added to their advantage in the first half.

Kettlewell’s side were much improved after the break, however, and Dan Casey levelled matters before Harry Paton netted in the seventh minute of stoppage time to take the Steelmen joint top of the table.

The Motherwell boss has faced an injury crisis at the club in recent weeks, with Conor Wilkinson the latest to face a spell on the sidelines.

Despite that, the Steelmen demonstrated all their fighting qualities after the break to claim an outstanding victory.

“We’re delighted. I think you are delighted with three points at any stage in this league, but especially after the first 45 minutes where I just didn’t feel we were at the races,” Kettlewell said.

“We had a few tweaks and changes to our set-up because of the tough week that we’ve had – we’ve had a really difficult spell trying to make sure we can put a team on the park.

“That’s why people pay their money, they want to see their team score a last-minute winner.

“Without getting too nostalgic about it, I think your team should be an identification as to what you are as a person.

“I always demand resilience and good reaction from us. Even if one or two were in the dressing room at half-time feeling a bit sorry for themselves with what we said or the changes we made – it is always with the right intention.”

Kettlewell also confirmed that defender Ricki Lamie is set to depart the club, with a move to Dundee on the horizon.

Lamie has yet to feature for Motherwell in the Premiership this season.

“There looks like a situation where Ricki could be on the move and, again, if I was sitting as a selfish guy I’d be saying I want to keep as many senior players as I can,” Kettlewell said.

“You can see we’ve got six teenagers in our squad today, two starting and four on the bench. I need as many senior players as I can get.

“Though to alter and readdress the balance, it’s a situation that probably will happen and whether that’s the opportunity to free up some up funds for us to see if we can bring in another attack-minded player.

“That’s certainly something we are looking at. There’s nothing concrete in terms of an incoming but it’s looking likely there will be an outgoing.”

Derek McInnes was left frustrated as his Kilmarnock side fell to defeat from a commanding position.

Killie suffered their first loss of the new campaign after conceding with the final kick of the ball at Fir Park and McInnes is keen to ensure that his players bounce back quickly

“It’s a really disappointing end up for us. It’s important when you can’t win a game that you make sure you don’t lose it,” he said.

“There’s a lot of optimism, the way the players have been of late and the results recently. I think you see we bounced into Fir Park today ready to take them on.

“It’s not going to affect what we do this season. I’m pretty sure this is a different looking Kilmarnock, it’s important we remember that. We take the belt and are ready to win a home game next week.

“Hopefully we can come through this first round of games with a lot of positivity.”

Brendan Rodgers is not surprised by Kilmarnock’s flying start to the season as he prepares to renew rivalries with the manager who posed him the biggest challenge during his first spell as Celtic manager.

Former Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has had the chance to reshape his squad ahead of his second full season in charge at Rugby Park.

McInnes’ Aberdeen side finished as runners-up to Celtic in both of their title-winning campaigns under Rodgers during his first spell in charge, and in three of the five cup finals he won.

Rodgers was therefore not fazed as Killie started their cinch Premiership term with a win over Rangers and a draw at Hearts.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “Obviously he did a fantastic job at Aberdeen and when I was up here first time they were always very competitive, always very tough games.

“He got promoted with Kilmarnock and now he is looking to establish them in the top division, and after that first season he is putting his own stamp on it. He has been able to refresh the squad, get the profile of players that he wants in.

“I watched the game against Rangers and they did very well. Derek’s teams are always very well organised, some of the most competitive in the country, and he is a very experienced and excellent manager. So I anticipate a tough game for sure.

“They are very difficult to play against, that mixture of man-to-man and zonal and they defended deep.

“The surface always plays a part but we can’t have any excuse going into the game.

“We are in the competition to try and win it and if you are going to do that, you have to beat good teams and overcome difficult opponents.”

A 3-0 Hampden win over the Dons in the League Cup final in November 2016 marked Rodgers’ first major trophy of his managerial career and he hopes to follow that success to kick-start his second spell in Glasgow.

“I enjoyed that side of it when I was here last time, there is something to play for early on which is great,” he said.

“So having that opportunity to get to a final early on in the season is very good.

“We have to work hard to get there, you have to earn the right.”

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