Jair Tavares scored his first goal for Hibernian but it was not enough to secure victory as Ross County fought back from 2-0 down to claim a 2-2 draw in a dramatic cinch Premiership match at Easter Road.

The 22-year-old Portuguese winger has enjoyed a new lease of life under recently-installed manager Nick Montgomery and he appeared to have the Hibees on course for a win that would have lifted them into the top half of the table when he added to Elie Youan’s deflected first-half strike.

But an own goal from Allan Delferriere and a superb finish by substitute Jordan White in the closing 20 minutes earned County a third successive away draw.

Hibs boss Montgomery made four changes to the side that started Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home to Celtic. Goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott came in for his first league appearance, with David Marshall dropping to the bench, while Jordan Obita, Joe Newell and Martin Boyle made way for Lewis Stevenson, Dylan Levitt and Adam Le Fondre.

County made two alterations to the team that drew 3-3 at Motherwell last weekend as Ben Purrington and Kyle Turner replaced George Harmon and Yan Dhanda.

Hibs threatened in the 11th minute when Youan got in behind and crossed from the right, forcing James Brown to clear over his own crossbar as Dylan Vente raced in to try and connect on the edge of the six-yard box.

Another County defender had to make an important intervention 11 minutes later when Ryan Leak blocked Tavares’ shot from a Youan cutback after an excellent build-up down the right.

The Staggies almost took the lead with their first notable foray into the Hibs box in the 25th minute when Turner flashed a ferocious angled shot just beyond the far post after Simon Murray laid Brown’s pass off into his path.

At the other end, Le Fondre saw a powerful low shot from the edge of the box run agonisingly wide of Ross Laidlaw’s left-hand post.

Hibs made the breakthrough in the 42nd minute when Youan’s shot from just outside the box deflected off Purrington and eluded Laidlaw.

And the hosts looked to be well on their way to securing the three points eight minutes into the second half when Tavares received a pass from Levitt and drove forward before sending a firm right-footed shot beyond Laidlaw from the edge of the box.

The goal was allowed to stand following a VAR check for offside, much to the delight of the former Benfica winger whose Hibs career appeared to have petered out following a difficult first season in Scotland.

Staring down the barrel of defeat, County found some resistance in the closing stages. They pulled one back in the 74th minute when Hibs substitute Delferriere inadvertently turned the ball into his own net after Wollacott failed to deal with a cross from substitute Dhanda.

And the Staggies left the home support exasperated in the 82nd minute when White spun in the box and fired high into the net after excellent work by Murray on the right to set him up.

Stuart Kettlewell admitted to having mixed emotions after his side mounted an incredible late fightback to claim a share of the spoils in a 3-3 cinch Premiership draw against his former club Ross County.

The Steelmen trailed 3-1 with two minutes remaining but fought back thanks to goals from substitutes Conor Wilkinson and Luca Ross.

“It probably descended into utter chaos is my honest answer to it,” Kettlewell said.

“I thought Ross County were the better team in the first 10-15 minutes then I thought we got on top. We had territorial advantage, we had more of the ball and played the game in their half of the pitch.

“We started the second half like that and then began to sort of shoot ourselves in the foot if I’m being honest with you.”

After an uneventful first half, the game would burst into life as goals from Eamonn Brophy and Simon Murray had County in control.

Mike Biereth came off the bench to get a goal back for the home side, though any hopes of an unlikely comeback seemed to have disappeared when Victor Loturi added a third after 82 minutes.

With two minutes left on the clock, Wilkinson restored some hope for Motherwell following a good finish and Ross would scramble home in the fifth minute of added time to send Fir Park wild.

Kettlewell added: “Our organisation again, two goals start from throw-ins, which again we need to be better at.

“I probably take exception to the first goal if I’m being honest with you, just in terms of Victor Loturi takes a touch and it sort of comes off his hand. It then deviates into the path of Kyle Turner.

“My understanding is, if that then leads to a goal, then it quite clearly has had an impact.

“The fourth official’s reasoning was that he didn’t score the goal, so it’s not the case – I was a little bit surprised by that.”

Despite his frustration in the manner of which his team conceded, Kettlewell was thrilled with the resilience shown in them battling back to grab a point.

Motherwell looked set to fall to their fifth-straight Premiership defeat before rescuing the game in the dying stages.

“I think the reaction of the players is pretty stunning again to be honest with you,” he added.

“Being 3-1 down with seven or eight minutes to go, to come back and get that point and to have our substitutes score all three goals.

“I think that puts us in a slightly better place than what we would of been of course, but there’s a lot of frustrations there for me.

“It showed that we have that little bit more strength in depth and more options than I’ve had all season off the bench – fortunately three substitutes come on and have a real good impact for us.”

Malky Mackay was gutted after seeing his side throw away their lead late on at Fir Park but insisted he was still proud of the performance of his players.

“Overall it’s two points dropped, I’m disappointed with the fact we allowed them a sniff of getting back into it again,” he said.

“I suppose reflecting on the whole game, we knew it was going to be a tough game coming down here.

“Motherwell are getting a lot of plaudits, they are sitting well in the league and they’ve done well.

“To come to Motherwell, score three and play the way we did. Murray’s goal is top class – I don’t know how many passes it turned into before the ball went into the net.

“To go and play the way we did against them at times – really dominate the ball – is something I’m proud of.”

Storm Babet disrupted football in England and Scotland on Saturday as adverse weather conditions swept the UK.

Ross County’s home match against St Mirren in the cinch Premiership was the latest fixture to be postponed north of the border.

And in England, Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold was involved in an accident after a 40ft electricity pylon smashed onto a car in front of the England international, according to The Sun.

The high voltage power line was pulled up by 70mph winds and landed in front of Alexander-Arnold’s black Range Rover near Knutsford, Cheshire, the newspaper reported.

Alexander-Arnold reportedly slammed on the brakes before colliding with a BMW X5. Cheshire police said nobody was injured in the incident.

The footballer’s agent was contacted by the PA news agency, but declined to comment on the story.

The storm showed no signs of abating as downpours continued to batter the UK on Saturday, with three people dead and another red “danger to life” warning in place.

After conversations with the SPFL and Police Scotland, the decision was taken to call the St Mirren game off on Saturday morning with supporters’ safety in mind.

A club statement said a new date and kick-off time would be rearranged in due course.

County’s match at the Global Energy Stadium became the first fixture to be called off on Saturday but several others were already postponed on Friday, including Aberdeen’s home game against Dundee and Motherwell’s trip to St Johnstone.

Other Saturday fixtures to have fallen include Mansfield’s home clash with Forest Green in Sky Bet League Two, and Altrincham’s match against Dorking in the Vanarama National League.

Chesterfield’s home fixture against Gateshead has also been called off “on the recommendation of various external partner agencies”.

The Scottish Championship game between Arbroath and Raith Rovers – in the worst-hit area of Angus – was called off, as was Greenock’s match against Inverness.

Cove Rangers against Montrose in League One was also postponed along with two games in League Two – Elgin versus Forfar and Stenhousemuir against Peterhead.

Saturday’s race card at Market Rasen was also postponed due to standing water on areas of the track.

An inspection was held on Friday but the race course confirmed after 50mm of rainfall in the area that the decision was made to abandon the meeting.

Rotherham’s Championship game with Ipswich, scheduled to be played on Friday night, was also postponed due to the stormy conditions.

The area was hit with torrential rain which caused the River Don, which runs behind the AESSEAL New York Stadium, to burst its banks which left areas around the stadium flooded.

Ross County’s home match against St Mirren in the cinch Premiership is the latest fixture to be postponed due to the adverse weather conditions caused by Storm Babet.

The storm shows no signs of abating as downpours continued to batter the UK on Saturday, with three people dead and another red “danger to life” warning in place.

After conversations with the SPFL and Police Scotland, the decision was taken to call the St Mirren game off on Saturday morning with supporters’ safety in mind.

A club statement said a new date and kick-off time will be rearranged in due course.

County’s match at the Global Energy Stadium became the first fixture to be called off on Saturday but several others were already postponed on Friday, including Aberdeen’s home game against Dundee and Motherwell’s trip to St Johnstone.

Other Saturday fixtures to have fallen include Mansfield’s home clash with Forest Green in Sky Bet League Two, and Altrincham’s match against Dorking in the Vanarama National League.

The Scottish Championship game between Arbroath and Raith Rovers, in the worst-hit area of Angus, has been called off as has Greenock’s match against Inverness.

Cove Rangers against Montrose in League One has also been postponed along with two games in League Two – Elgin versus Forfar and Stenhousemuir against Peterhead.

Rotherham’s Championship game with Ipswich, scheduled to be played on Friday night, was also postponed due to the conditions.

The area was hit with torrential rain which caused the River Don, which runs behind the AESSEAL New York Stadium, to burst its banks which left areas around the stadium flooded.

Barry Robson’s only frustration after sealing a place in the Viaplay Cup semi-finals was that his side allowed Ross County a route back into the match.

Aberdeen were two goals to the good in Dingwall before County scored a late penalty, setting up a tense finale as each side battled to get back to Hampden.

The Dons had been in control of the match, helped along by an early red card for Staggies skipper Jack Baldwin and Robson felt his side could have been out of sight long before County pulled a goal back.

“When you come up against 10 men it’s not the easiest, so we changed shape,” Robson reasoned.

“I thought we were comfortable in the game, because Kelle (Roos) never had a save to make.

“That one ball over the top when we were 2-0 up for their penalty, it was always going to be a tough last five or 10 minutes.

“For me, we probably shouldn’t have had to go through the last five or 10 minutes, because we were in real control at 2-0 up.

“We should have had a couple of penalties too, so I thought the game could have been done.”

Malky Mackay, meanwhile, was left frustrated by injuries to his players that he felt should have been more strongly punished.

However, he was proud of the effort his players put in to remain competitive, even with playing over 75 minutes with 10 men.

“I’m really disappointed. We lose to a really fantastic goal, he couldn’t hit it any sweeter, so I have no qualms about that,” Mackay explained.

“I think VAR would have looked at the sending off, but you’re thinking it could have become a long night and we turned it into a real cup tie.

“There were balls flashing across the box with 10 minutes to go, so I’m disappointed for our players but really proud of them.

“There seemed to be an awful lot of bookings for a period and then a few bizarre ones that don’t become bookings.

“Josh Sims is away to hospital. His leg is split wide open like a banana and when you look at it again it’s really not good by Ryan Duncan, so I really don’t understand why that wasn’t a booking.

“Then at the end Josh Reid gets wiped out and the foul is given but no booking, so it’s a bit of consistency that’s needed and a bit of dialogue I suppose.”

Aberdeen finally kicked into life in the cinch Premiership as they brushed aside Ross County 4-0 to claim their first league win of the season.

Bojan Miovski scored twice with Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes and Jamie McGrath also on the scoresheet as the Dons bounced back from four successive defeats in all competitions.

The Dons showed three changes from their impressive but ultimately losing Europa Conference League performance against Eintracht Frankfurt, but one of the players stepping in, James McGarry, was forced off through injury after just six minutes.

His replacement, Jonny Hayes, required treatment himself after a late challenge from County’s James Brown, but was eventually able to continue. For his part, Brown was perhaps lucky to be shown only a yellow card.

Once the game had settled down, Aberdeen found themselves in front.

Connor Barron’s corner from the right was turned towards goal by Richard Jensen’s bicycle kick, and Miovski was on hand to apply the finishing touch from close range. 

The visitors responded strongly with Kelle Roos turning a Brown drive round the post, before Jordan White’s header from a Yan Dhanda corner clipped the post. 

But the Dons should have extended their lead twice in the space of a minute as Duk’s strong run down the right got them into the area but neither Miovski nor McGrath could get a shot away. 
However, they did double their lead in the 42nd minute in a move that was started and finished by Duk.

He played out from the back after a corner, and while Hayes and Graeme Shinnie carried the ball almost the length of the pitch, it was Duk who raced into the area to apply the, somewhat scrappy, finishing touch. 

The Dons picked up where they had left off in the second half and made it 3-0 in the 48th minute, as another move started in their own half saw Hayes switch the ball cross-field to Miovski, who unselfishly squared for McGrath to prod home his first Aberdeen goal. 

And a fourth goal soon arrived, Miovski biding his time to drill across Ross Laidlaw after Duk showed strength and ingenuity to set up the chance, holding off his man before a back-heel pass to his strike partner. 
A slew of substitutions would follow for both sides, which broke up the rhythm of the game, but allowed Aberdeen to rest some of those who had worked so hard in Germany in midweek. And while they allowed County more possession thereafter, the Dons were comfortable for the most part. 

There was a moment of concern for the hosts with 10 minutes to go when Josh Sims flashed an angled drive over the crossbar, but the Dons held firm for a confidence-boosting victory ahead of facing the same opposition in the Viaplay Cup in midweek. 

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.”

Skipper James Tavernier believes Rangers’ 2-0 win over Ross County in Dingwall on Saturday sets them up for their crunch Champions League play-off tie against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday night.

Striker Kemar Roofe, hampered by injury problems during his time at Ibrox, was handed his first start in 16 months and scored the opener after 22 minutes with his first goal since February.

Tavernier added a stunning second four minutes later with a strike from distance for his third goal in the first six games of the season and attacker Tom Lawrence, out for a year with a knee injury, made his return off the bench in the second half to offer boss Michael Beale another boost.

Ahead of their trip to the Netherlands, where the Light Blues take a 2-2 draw from the first leg at Ibrox, right-back Tavernier was pleased with his goal and the day overall.

He told RangersTV: “It was a quick interception, I was driving and I saw Kemar make a run to take the player away and my eyes lit up when I saw the goal. I am really happy it went in.

“Kem is a really good player for us – as is Tom Lawrence – and to have those two back in the squad fully fit is only going to make us stronger so I am delighted to see them back on the pitch and Kem starting and getting his goal.

“We need all the players to chip in this season. It was really important to go there and get the three points.

“I was delighted we got the clean sheet and I thought we were really dominant in possession in the first-half performance, and in the second half, we probably let them back into the game more than what we should have, but we kept a clean sheet and towards the end, Abdallah (Sima) made an unbelievable header to keep it that way.

“So I am really pleased and it puts us in good stead for the PSV game.

“It is a big week ahead – we will look forward to the game at PSV – we know it is going to be a tough game but we are coming off the back of a win and a clean sheet so hopefully we can do the same over there.”

Ross County boss Malky Mackay thought the difference in finishing was key to the three points going to Govan but he was happy to see midfielder Yan Dhanda back in action following the hip injury which led him to miss last week’s Viaplay Cup win over Airdrieonians.

He said: “I thought he was excellent. No matter any time he was near the ball he showed real quality.

“He is a top player who drives us forward and he has real nerve to make sure he wants the ball over the park. He is someone who is going to help us massively this season.”

Ross County boss Malky Mackay was delighted that his side found a way to win after they overcame a battling Airdrie side 4-3 in extra time to reach the quarter-finals of the Viaplay Cup.

County looked well on course for victory at 3-1 up, though they would concede twice in the final 10 minutes to send the game into extra time.

The Staggies prevailed in the additional half hour however, Eamonn Brophy heading home in the first half to clinch a dramatic victory.

“Overall, we found a way to win which is the biggest thing of the lot – that’s what you’ve got to do,” Mackay said.

“We knew it was always going to be a tough game, Airdrie have been on a roll, they won promotion, have been excellent in their League Cup group and have started the Championship season well.

“I thought we started like a house on fire and I think overall in the first half we were excellent.”

Mackay admits he was frustrated at the manner in which his team conceded in the second half, though was thrilled at their reaction in extra time.

Jack Baldwin conceded a penalty to restore some hope for Airdrie and Josh O’Connor then seized on some sloppy defending to level the match in the final minute.

Despite demonstrating some defensive frailties, the County boss heaped praise on the resilience of his side.

“I was disappointed that we made two really silly errors. For the penalty the ball is running out of the park and all of a sudden we’ve given them a penalty and a way back into it,” Mackay added.

“Then we’ve got the ball in our own six-yard box, and he doesn’t just kick it into the stand, instead he miskicks it and it gives them the goal.

“Once we got to extra time I was delighted with my team and the way they stood firm.

“It’s a great testament to the group of players, the way they’ve started the season, the way they are fighting for each other and the consistency levels I’ve got compared to what I had last year.”

Airdrie manager Rhys McCabe felt his side were more than a match for their Premiership opponents.

The Diamonds have enjoyed a good start after gaining promotion to the Championship last season and came agonisingly close to causing an upset at the Excelsior Stadium.

“We really gave as good as we got and for large parts, especially in the second half and throughout extra time, I actually thought we absolutely dominated the game,” McCabe said.

“We’ve got to dust ourselves down, analyse where we can get better and what parts of the game were good.

“I’m frustrated for the boys, we’ve had a decent run against so-called bigger opposition, to score three and lose the game at home – I’m gutted for the boys.”

St Johnstone manager Steven MacLean told his players to start looking over their shoulders as he claimed a 2-0 defeat at Ross County left them in a “dogfight” already.

Saints have followed their Viaplay Cup exit with successive defeats in their opening two cinch Premiership matches.

Goals from substitute Kyle Turner and defender Connor Randall either side of half-time put County in control, but the host could have been out of sight at that point.

Despite facing a lengthy injury list, MacLean pulled no punches in his post-match assessment in Dingwall.

“It was poor – individually, two players got pass marks. We didn’t show enough desire or commitment, didn’t win first contact or second balls. They out-battled and out-fought us,” he said.

“We need to get players in and we need to get players back from injury. We are in a dogfight already and they know that. We need help.

“The players who were out there haven’t done themselves any favours and they need to look over their shoulder. I include myself in that – we are all in this together.”

MacLean added: “Do you know what, we have been sitting here for two years. Some of those boys have let the club down. Either that, or they are not good enough. Simple as that.

“They need to start taking some responsibility. They have been protected long enough – (it is) not good enough.

“They will need to look over their shoulders. You have got to show a hunger and desire to do your job and do the fundamentals.”

County manager Malky Mackay was frustrated his side were not further ahead at the interval.

“I was probably a little bit disappointed at half-time that it wasn’t put to bed,” he said.

“We had some great opportunities in the first half. On any given day, we might have been 4-0 up and the game is dead. It wasn’t.

“Kyle Turner scored a good goal, but at 1-0 we realised Steven would be getting torn into St Johnstone and that they would come out flying.

“In those situations, the opposition can be a bit carefree and play passes they wouldn’t normally play because they have to get back into it. For 15 minutes, we settled it down and made sure we defended properly.”

Goals from substitute Kyle Turner and defender Connor Randall gave Ross County their first cinch Premiership win with a 2-0 victory over St Johnstone, who remain pointless.

The visitors were missing 10 first-team squad players because of injuries and it showed as a patched-up side struggled to contain Ross County’s forwards for the majority of the first half.

County created four chances in the opening 20 minutes when Josh Sims and Simon Murray each had two opportunities to break the deadlock.

But it was Saints who almost grabbed an unmerited lead.

County goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw threw himself to his right to punch clear Daniel Phillips’ well-struck effort from 20 yards, which looked set for the top corner.

But it seemed only a matter of time before County scored, with debutant Ryan Leak seeing a header blocked and then Sims nodding wide.

Turner, who had replaced injured Yan Dhanda, displayed much more accurate finishing when he took advantage of poor defending to break the deadlock with a side-foot effort in the 41st minute.

Saints manager Steven MacLean made tactical re-adjustments for the second half in an effort to limit County to fewer openings.

But the visitors were once again exposed when Murray just failed to make contact with a cross from James Brown before Randall doubled the lead in the 52nd minute.

Sims did well to set up Randall, who found the far side of the net with an angled drive from 20 yards.

The Staggies, though, had to endure a five-minute spell of sustained pressure immediately following Randall’s goal when Sam McClelland McClelland and substitute Taylor Steven both threatened.

County’s failure to produce crisper finishing might also have come back to haunt them after 72 minutes had Turner not popped up on the line to block a shot from Ryan McGowan.

Ross County have signed midfielder Kyle Turner on a two-year contract.

The 25-year-old has moved from Partick Thistle after being part of the Jags side that lost to County in the cinch Premiership play-off final.

County manager Malky Mackay said: “Kyle is an exciting young player who was named in the Championship Team of the Year last season.

“I am delighted to bring him to Dingwall and he will be a fantastic addition to our squad.”

Alex Iacovitti has thanked Ross County for “an incredible three years” after his departure from the Staggies was confirmed.

The 25-year-old former Scotland Under-21 defender moved to the Highlands from Oldham in 2020 and made 116 games appearances for the Dingwall club, scoring 12 goals.

Iacovitti is leaving County, who survived in the cinch Premiership following a dramatic play-off victory over Partick Thistle, under freedom of contract.

“Firstly I’d like to place on record my thank you for an incredible three years at the club,” he said in a statement on the Staggies’ website. “I’ve loved my time in the Highlands and was happy to call it home for this period.

“The supporters were excellent throughout my time here and they will always hold a special place in my heart for how they have treated me.

“The players I played with at the club are also a top bunch of lads, unfortunately I was unable to play a part in the play-offs due to an injury I had played through that eventually got the better of me.

“I was absolutely delighted the club secured their Premiership status, where they belong.

“I wanted to thank all of you for your support throughout and wish you all and the club the very best for the future. I’ll be back to watch a game as a County fan in the future!”

County will announce full details of their retained/released list in due course.

Malky Mackay was delighted to repay Ross County chairman Roy MacGregor’s faith by keeping the Staggies in the top flight following the craziest game of his managerial career.

County were 3-0 down on aggregate with 20 minutes left of their cinch Premiership play-off final second leg against Partick Thistle but ended up sealing a sudden-death penalty shoot-out victory three hours after kick-off in Dingwall.

Simon Murray netted 80 seconds after Yan Dhanda’s penalty to transform the complexion of the game and George Harmon put County 3-1 ahead on the day at the start of nine minutes of stoppage time.

There was VAR drama throughout the 90 minutes and chances at either end in extra time before both sides missed penalties in the shoot-out and sudden death. Josh Sims eventually sealed a 5-4 penalties win after Ross Laidlaw had saved Ross Docherty’s spot-kick.

Mackay said: “I actually had the Carling Cup final with Cardiff against Liverpool that went to penalties, and that was a mental game. But this was something else.

“This, being a two-legged play-off and having the responsibility of keeping this club in the Premiership, means a hell of a lot.

“Honestly, I never thought we wouldn’t win. Even at half-time I thought we could score three goals. If we got a goal, I thought they would take a step back and creak, and we would get the momentum, and that’s what happened.”

Mackay added: “As a manager it’s a huge achievement, because we’re a tiny club in the Premiership.

“I’ve read a lot of stuff, and there have been a lot of questions about how brilliant Partick Thistle have been, and they have done terrifically well. It’s quite clear that it would have been lovely for a Glasgow club to go into the Premiership and teams not to have to travel on the A9.

“I get that, but this is a great place and a great club. When players come up they realise what a great place it is and how good the people are running it.”

Mackay held talks with owner MacGregor after a 6-1 defeat by Hearts left County four points adrift at the bottom of the Premiership going into the split.

“My commitment to Roy is as much as his commitment is to me,” he said.

“He could quite easily have decided after the Hearts game that enough was enough, but we had a conversation about how I felt about the run in, and I told him I had the shoulders to carry it. I believed that this group of players could stay in the Premiership, and we’ve done well.”

Thistle had won their previous five play-off games, netting 18 goals in the process, and bounced back from the late blow to produce the better football and the best chance of extra time, which Stuart Bannigan missed.

Manager Kris Doolan said: “I’m devastated as you would imagine. I’m gutted for everyone to be honest because we put so much into the games.

“Half the country was probably behind us, not just Partick Thistle fans. Football is cruel and I know it’s cruel but to go out on penalty-kicks is worse because you feel as if you were so close.”

Three VAR reviews all went against Thistle. They had a penalty claim denied despite Nick Walsh being called to the monitor to view Nohan Kenneh felling Ross Docherty. Brian Graham was penalised after the ball hit his arm, and County captain Keith Watson had a red card rescinded after bringing down Thistle’s goalscorer, Scott Tiffoney.

“The one on Docherty, I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t given,” Doolan said. “From where we were it was blatant penalty.

“When he is brought over to the monitor you assume, it’s pretty blatant because it has been flagged up so I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t given.

“I don’t want to make excuses just on VAR, I feel like you would always be picking on VAR when we lost control of the game at times, five to 10 minutes when they score really quickly. We could have done better.

“Even in extra time we had a couple of chances which we could have scored and I was confident we would have taken one of them. It wasn’t to be, it just wasn’t our day.”

Ross County came from three goals down against Partick Thistle to retain their cinch Premiership status with a sudden-death penalty shoot-out victory following an epic play-off final.

Aidan Fitzpatrick put Thistle three ahead on aggregate two minutes before half-time in the second leg in Dingwall and they were in control until the 71st minute when Yan Dhanda’s penalty and Simon Murray’s close-range finish turned the game on its head inside 80 seconds.

County completed their comeback just after the 90-minute mark when George Harmon netted to send the game into extra time.

There were chances and VAR controversy throughout and the penalty shoot-out was just as dramatic as the game before Josh Sims finally settled matters three hours after kick-off to seal a 5-4 shoot-out victory.

Malky Mackay’s side extended their four-year stay in the top flight while Thistle, who went down through the play-offs in 2018 and have been to League One and back to the Championship since, will eventually find encouragement from their form under Kris Doolan once their shock subsides.

It was only a second defeat in 19 games under their manager, who suffered the loss of his father during a play-off campaign which saw Thistle win five matches and score 19 goals.

County made four changes, two of them enforced through suspension, as Ben Purrington came in for his first start since suffering a serious ankle injury in October. Doolan named the same team for a fifth game in a row.

County’s only real first-half pressure came courtesy of Thistle goalkeeper David Mitchell failing to deal with two high balls, Purrington seeing a header cleared off the line after the second blunder.

The home side survived a lengthy VAR review after Greg Aitken called referee Nick Walsh to his monitor after Ross Docherty went down under Nohan Kenneh’s challenge as he ran into the box. Walsh had a long look while County boss Mackay told him “it’s a dive”, and the referee decided against awarding the penalty despite definite contact.

The visitors soon took the lead after Tiffoney reacted quickest to a loose ball and drove it across the box. Fitzpatrick took a touch as David Cancola dived in, and the Thistle wide man reversed a finish past Ross Laidlaw.

The noisy visiting fans chanted “Thistle are back” and Alex Samuel missed an excellent chance to give the home support hope just after the break following a slip in the Jags defence. Mitchell made a good stop and a grounded Aaron Muirhead completed the clearance.

Thistle looked comfortable and Connor Randall cleared off the line from Steven Lawless as they looked to put the game out of sight.

But the complexion of the tie was transformed with 19 minutes of the 90 remaining when Aitken alerted Walsh to the ball hitting Graham’s arm in the Thistle box and Dhanda converted the resulting spot-kick.

Thistle then conceded a throw-in from the restart and Samuel capitalised on some hesitation from Darren Brownlie and drove in a cross which substitute Murray converted.

Jordan White and Brian Graham missed chances at either end before more VAR drama when County captain Keith Watson was shown a straight red card for hacking down Tiffoney from behind as the forward was about to thread a team-mate through. Walsh downgraded to a yellow after being called to the monitor.

The fourth official signalled for nine minutes of stoppage time just as Dhanda crossed for substitute Harmon to volley in off the post to make it 3-3 on aggregate. A VAR check for offside prolonged the tension.

There were further opportunities at either end and Murray missed a glorious chance with the last kick of normal time when he volleyed over from seven yards.

Samuel headed against the bar but Thistle had the better of extra time and Stuart Bannigan blazed over the best chance after being set up by Graham inside the six-yard box.

The shoot-out was just as tense.

Kevin Holt and Jack Baldwin saw penalties saved for either team before Harmon’s pressure kick took it into sudden death. Bannigan hit the post before Watson blazed over, and Laidlaw saved from Docherty before Sims netted to spark a pitch invasion from the home fans.

Page 3 of 4
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.