The Herald - Herald Sport
County rescue point to keep alive hopes of avoiding dreaded play-off
ROSS COUNTY stormed back from the dead at two goals down to resurrect hopes of escaping a relegation play-off double-header, writes Alasdair Fraser.
Stevie May’s second goal from the penalty spot threatened to guarantee at best a tussle with Partick Thistle or Ayr United, but the never-say-die Staggies stormed back with second-half replies from Yan Dhanda’s penalty and
Jordan White’s leveller.
Then a blinding Jack Baldwin leftfoot strike from 25 yards looked to have sealed a remarkable turnaround for the Highlanders.
But in the dying seconds of five minutes stoppage time, Ryan McGowan bundled a Saints leveller over the line after Andrew Considine’s header from a disputed corner hit the crossbar. A County win at Kilmarnock will still salvage their safety in the Premiership on goal difference.
Bright evening sunshine bathed County’s last home outing of a testing season, and the hosts settled first.
In a fast and furious start, Yan Dhanda’s skill on the ball helped carve the first chance as Jordan White’s attempt was blocked.
Saints’ first opening came from a long ball forward on the counter from Graham Carey, leaving Stevie May tearing in on goal only for Keith Watson to make a superb block.
A similar ploy from Adam Montgomery, with a long diagonal forward, found Drey Wright miscontrolling at the vital moment.
The home crowd were silenced after 24 minutes as a spate of away pressure paid off for the opening goal.
Sustained build-up from Saints ended with Wright’s pass supplying Stevie May, who dragged the ball onto his right foot and curled a fine finish beyond Ross Laidlaw’s reach and into the bottom right corner of the net. It was the Perth striker’s ninth of the season and a 24th-minute goal on May 24.
County forced three corners approaching half-time, but there was a determination to Saints defending.
With Killie beating Dundee United at the break, County knew their hopes of escaping to 10th in the table were on the line.
Only Ross Laidlaw’s fingertips denied SDtevie May from distance, but the Perth goalscorer grabbed his second - and 10th of the campaign from the penalty spot.
Nohan Kenneh was adjudged to have brought down Adam Montgomery as he forayed into the penalty area and, after the VSAR check, May sent Laidlaw the wrong way. May stepped up after the VAR check and sent Laidlaw the wrong way. But County were back in it just a couple of minutes later after the ball was adjudged to have hit Cammy Ballantyne’s hand in the box.
Dhanda stepped up and hammered the ball high past keeper Sinclair to half the deficit.
Home tails were up and they were level after 69 minutes as Victor Loturi’s strike from outside the area was redirected close in by Jordan White.
There was an anxious wait as VAR checked for offside but the goal stood.
Late pressure had Saints scrambling to clear their lines and a wild clearance fell to defender Baldwin.
The centre half’s sweet strike from 25 yards arrowed into the right side of the net with seconds of the 90 minutes remaining.
Five minutes of stoppage time beckoned and to County’s horror MacGowan scrambled a leveller.