Ross County 2-2 Hibernian: Yan Dhanda’s 98th-minute goal snatches point for home side

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Yan Dhanda celebrates his last-gasp equaliser for Ross County against Hibernian
Hearts-bound Yan Dhanda rescued a point for Ross County deep into stoppage time

Nick Montgomery says his players were left “incensed” after Yan Dhanda’s controversial strike in the 98th minute denied Hibernian victory at Ross County in the Scottish Premiership.

Having taken the lead three minutes before the break through Josh Sims, Don Cowie’s side soon ceded the advantage as half-time substitute Adam Le Fondre changed the game for Hibs.

Firstly the Englishman won a flick-on to give the visitors field position, allowing Myziane Maolida to combine with Elie Youan before sliding in the equaliser.

Then Le Fondre looked to have grabbed the winner after peeling away from County’s centre-backs to calmly finish following a wonderful long pass from Joe Newell.

However, with the last play of the game County were awarded a throw-in which ought to have gone Hibs’ way, and they took full advantage.

Simon Murray took a sensational touch on the turn down the right-hand side then smashed in a low cross and Dhanda – who will be a Hearts player next season – was there to steer the ball into the bottom corner.

The Hibs players and staff were left stunned and devastated at the full-time whistle as they slipped to seventh after Dundee defeated Aberdeen at Dens Park, with four games to go before the league splits.

“I find it hard to understand where seven minutes injury time came from,” Montgomery told BBC Scotland.

“We’re then defending nearer the eight-minute mark, defending a throw-in that’s our throw-in. It’s hard to explain how that can happen, but it did. It’s a real sickener.

“The players are incensed because we shouldn’t have to defend our own throw-in. Everybody was confused as to how that happened. We switched off waiting for it to be pulled back.”

Cowie’s County stay in 11th place, but they move seven points in front of bottom side Livingston and narrow the gap to just three on Aberdeen above them.

Player of the match – Adam Le Fondre

Hibernian's Adam Le Fondre scores to make it 2-1 during a cinch Premiership match between Ross County and Hibernian at the Global Energy Stadium
Adam Le Fondre turned the game in Hibs’ favour with his presence up top after coming on at the break, and scored a brilliant goal

Hibs’ fragility returns, County boost morale – analysis

The narrative was about to be written about Hibs’ continued improvement since the winter break. New signings and returning players have helped them to a four-game unbeaten run in the league. That is now five matches, but this feels like a defeat.

This was the second meeting between these sides in 11 days, and both swung on a half-time change by Hibs boss Montgomery. At Easter Road, Dylan Levitt’s introduction helped Hibs to a 2-0 win, but this time it was the midfielder who was hooked for the brilliant Le Fondre.

The veteran striker instantly gave Hibs a presence up front as his physicality and clever movement caused problems. He had two further chances to score as well as being pivotal for both goals.

After his lovely first-time strike Hibs were on course for a first comeback win in the league this season. Their new-found resilience would have been a talking point, particularly when David Marshall brilliantly denied Simon Murray in stoppage time.

And although they will feel particularly aggrieved at the decision to award County a throw-in, they still had to defend their box.

Their inability to do so has consistently cost them, and the first County goal came from confusion between Marshall and his defenders when a cross came in, which allowed Sims to tap in.

Hibs’ top-six hopes will remain fragile until they learn to keep clean sheets.

As for County, such a dramatic late goal with wild celebrations at the end could be the turning point for them. The individual quality they have in Dhanda, Murray, Victor Loturi and others is clear. But they too struggle to defend their box and play as a team at times, and in truth Hibs had the better of the play.

However, resilience can go a long way in a relegation scrap. A seven-point gap to Livingston feels psychologically significant, although with Hearts and Rangers still to play before the split Cowie will not be getting carried away.

Nonetheless this was a morale-boosting night for County.

What they said

Ross County boss Don Cowie: “I enjoyed it because that time in the game there wasn’t long to go. That never-say-die attitude was massive for us and it could prove to be a vital point.

“We showed that against Livingston as well. I’d rather we did it earlier but glad we got a point out of it.

“I’ve got a really string squad now and it’s about making the right decisions. It was great for Yan [Dhanda] to come off the bench and make an impact and get the equaliser.”

Hibs head coach Nick Montgomery: “We just lost two points we shouldn’t have lost. We dominated the game in the second half and got back into the game, and should have won it.”

What’s next?

Hearts are the visitors in Dingwall on Saturday (15:00) while Hibs host Livingston at the same time.

Line-ups

Ross County

Formation 3-5-2

  • 40Wickens
  • 24Efete
  • 5Baldwin
  • 42Leak
  • 11SimsSubstituted forBrownat 73′minutes
  • 2Randall
  • 14LoturiSubstituted forDhandaat 82′minutes
  • 19KhelaSubstituted forSheafat 60′minutes
  • 43ReidSubstituted forHarmonat 82′minutes
  • 27BrophySubstituted forWhiteat 72′minutes
  • 15MurrayBooked at 74mins

Substitutes

  • 1Laidlaw
  • 4Brown
  • 10Dhanda
  • 12Sheaf
  • 16Harmon
  • 17Henderson
  • 21Jenks
  • 26White
  • 28Ayina

Hibernian

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Marshall
  • 2MillerBooked at 14minsSubstituted forCaddenat 34′minutes
  • 5Fish
  • 33Bushiri
  • 21Obita
  • 6LevittSubstituted forLe Fondreat 45′minutes
  • 11Newell
  • 23Triantis
  • 20MarcondesSubstituted forHanlonat 90+2′minutes
  • 17MaolidaBooked at 71mins
  • 7Youan

Substitutes

  • 4Hanlon
  • 12Cadden
  • 13Wollacott
  • 14Mayenda
  • 16Stevenson
  • 19Le Fondre
  • 44MacIntyre
  • 49Whittaker

Referee:
David Munro

Attendance:
3,774

Live Text

Player of the match

ReidJosh Reid

Ross County

  1. Squad number43Player nameReid

  2. Squad number10Player nameDhanda

  3. Squad number11Player nameSims

  4. Squad number2Player nameRandall

  5. Squad number15Player nameMurray

  6. Squad number27Player nameBrophy

  7. Squad number24Player nameEfete

  8. Squad number19Player nameKhela

  9. Squad number5Player nameBaldwin

  10. Squad number12Player nameSheaf

  11. Squad number4Player nameBrown

  12. Squad number14Player nameLoturi

  13. Squad number40Player nameWickens

  14. Squad number42Player nameLeak

  15. Squad number26Player nameWhite

  16. Squad number16Player nameHarmon

Hibernian

  1. Squad number19Player nameLe Fondre

  2. Squad number5Player nameFish

  3. Squad number12Player nameCadden

  4. Squad number1Player nameMarshall

  5. Squad number17Player nameMaolida

  6. Squad number33Player nameBushiri

  7. Squad number23Player nameTriantis

  8. Squad number20Player nameEmiliano Marcondes

  9. Squad number11Player nameNewell

  10. Squad number7Player nameYouan

  11. Squad number6Player nameLevitt

  12. Squad number2Player nameMiller

  13. Squad number21Player nameObita

  14. Squad number4Player nameHanlon

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