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Ross County vs Hearts. Scottish Premiership.

Global Energy StadiumAttendance5,267.

Ross County 2

  • S Murray (42nd minute, 49th minute)

Hearts 1

  • Y Oda (91st minute)

Ross County 2-1 Hearts: Simon Murray scores two as Ross County boost survival bid with win over Hearts

Match report as Ross County secured a vital 2-1 win against Hearts in Dingwall

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Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Ross County and Hearts.

Simon Murray starred as Ross County secured a vital 2-1 win against Hearts in Dingwall.

The former Hibernian striker scored either side of half-time to put the Staggies in a commanding position.

Despite hitting the woodwork multiple times and having one goal ruled out for offside, Hearts could only muster a single goal in response through Yutaro Oda in stoppage time.

How Ross County earned crucial win

DINGWALL, SCOTLAND - MARCH 16: Ross County's Simon Murray celebrates scoring to make it 1-0 during a cinch Premiership match between Ross County and Heart of Midlothian at the Global Energy Stadium, on March 16, 2024, in Dingwall, Scotland. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Image: Ross County's Simon Murray celebrates scoring to make it 1-0

The Staggies were hit by an early setback before a ball had even been kicked as Connor Randall - who had only returned from injury against Hibernian midweek - was forced out of the starting line-up after the warm-up, replaced by Max Sheaf.

Early on, Jordan White may have been guilty of one of the misses of the season. Murray did brilliantly on the right flank to get past his marker and send a low cross into the middle, where White stretched for the ball and somehow managed to loop it over the bar from just a yard or two out when it looked easier to score.

Hearts would create the better chances as the half went on, with Kenneth Vargas seeing his thunderous effort crash back down off the crossbar, but it was County who would take the lead two minutes before the interval through Murray.

A wonderful ball from Yan Dhanda sent the tenacious forward through on goal and though Murray's initial attempt was saved by Zander Clark, he responded quickly to score at the second attempt.

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Murray claimed a second four minutes after the restart, smashing Josh Reid's cross past Clark to make it 2-0.

Hearts tried to find a way back into the contest and put their hosts under considerable pressure, with Alan Forrest hitting the woodwork after fashioning just enough space to shoot inside County's box.

The visitors thought they had one back when Stephen Kingsley scored directly from a free-kick, only for VAR to recommend a review for Lawrence Shankland standing in an offside position - with the goal then disallowed.

They finally cut the deficit in stoppage time, when Oda expertly finished past Wickens via the inside of the post.

Hearts could not find a second to equalise though, and County were able to celebrate a crucial victory to boost their survival fight.

What the managers said...

Ross County interim manager Don Cowie: "Any three points is massive.

"We were playing against a very good team, comfortably third in the league for a reason, but I'm proud of the group for standing up to that and getting three points.

"I've been a little bit disappointed with the way we've responded after half-time in games, especially at home, so it was just a case of making sure they came out flying and ready in the second half.

"We expected a reaction from Hearts, so getting a second goal was vital.

"Hearts are an excellent team. Beating them here has to give us confidence going into the last eight games of the season.

"We've taken eight points at home, and I'm really happy with that, but now we've got to transfer that to away games because we've got two very tough games coming up."

Hearts boss Steven Naismith: "When the free-kick goes in, there are 15 minutes to go so I'm confident we would score again.

"I thought that was a poor decision, and it was a big moment. I don't understand why it was chalked off.

"The fourth official said that the goalie had to look around Shanks to see the ball, but I think it's a really poor decision.

"We could have done better in the game, and what cost us was poor defending. How we defended gave us a big challenge as the game went on."

What's next?

Ross County return to Scottish Premiership action after the international break at Aberdeen on March 30, while Hearts face Kilmarnock.

Both games kick-off at 3pm.

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