ROSS County stretched their unbeaten run to five games as Iain Vigurs’ last-gasp goal sealed a 2-2 Clydesdale Bank SPL draw with Hearts on Saturday.
The Jambos, who had earlier in the season denied County a win at Tynecastle with a stoppage time leveller, were left floored as the former Inverness CT midfielder pounced to keep the Staggies’ bid for a top six spot well and truly alive.
Ivan Sproule, the Dingwall side’s winter signing from Hibs, missed this one due to a hamstring injury he sustained against his old club in the 1-0 win last week. Alex Cooper took his place in the starting line-up.
In a pulsating start to the game, County forced a series of corners before Hearts went close as Jason Holt’s shot, at the other end, was saved by keeper Mark Brown.
Ryan Stevenson then pulled an effort wide of target as the sides attacked one after the other.
The deadlock was broken on the 20th minute as County midfielder Paul Lawson teed the ball up for Rocco Quinn, whose deflected shot beat keeper Jamie MacDonald and flew into the net.
On-loan Liverpool striker Michael Ngoo, who scored against Caley Thistle in the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final seven days previously, was on the scoresheet here too.
Stevenson picked the powerful forward out 30 yards out and his pace took him clear of Grant Munro and his coolly finished beyond Brown.
Vigurs almost fired County back in front, but MacDonald saved superbly well to keep the scores level.
Hearts stepped up their level of performance in the second half and County dug deep to keep in the game.
The Edinburgh team nudged ahead on the hour mark when Jamie Walker’s diving header flashed past Brown after Fraser Mullen whipped the ball in from the right flank.
Concerned perhaps by the grip Hearts had on the game, County boss Derek Adams brought strikers Steffen Wohlfarth and Gary Glen on for Sam Morrow and Cooper.
With the hosts pressing forward, Hearts were always a threat on the counter-attack and Stevenson forced a fine save from Brown.
The former Inverness CT and Motherwell keeper then pulled off an even better save from Scotland ace Danny Wilson, who is also on loan from Liverpool.
Just as it seemed Hearts would head south with three points, Vigurs sent a shot into the net off the crossbar after Scott Boyd’s drive was saved by MacDonald.
County: Brown, Munro, Boyd, Lawson, Brittain, Vigurs, Quinn, Morrow (Glen 65), Oikonomou, Cooper (Wolhfarth 65), Kovacevic. Subs not used: Fraser (GK), Kettlewell, MacPhee, Dingwall, Hainault.
Hearts: MacDonald, Wilson, Webster, Stevenson, Walker (Novikovas 86), Holt (Barr 83), Ngoo, Zaliukas, Tapping (McGowan 90), Mullen, King. Subs not used: Ridgers (GK), Driver, Taouil, Sutton.
Referee: Stephen Finnie.
*** County signed Swiss-born Serbian defender Branislav Micic as the transfer window shut last week.
The 22-year-old, who can play left-back or centre back, impressed on trial at the Dingwall club and arrived just as the Staggies freed Ross Tokely and Marc Fitzpatrick.