Scottish Premiership
Hearts0Ross County1

Heart of Midlothian 0-1 Ross County

Alex Schalk scores for Ross County against Hearts
Alex Schalk shot past Jack Hamilton to open the scoring for Ross County

Ross County claimed a hard-fought first victory at Tynecastle over an inaccurate Hearts side.

Alex Schalk pounced on a slack Alex Tziolis clearance to fire in the only goal after 51 minutes.

The striker should have scored again, but glanced a fine cross straight at Hearts goalkeeper Jack Hamilton.

Tasos Avlonitis had a late, looping volley tipped onto the crossbar by Scott Fox as the Jam Tarts searched in vain for an equaliser.

Greek tragedy at the back

After a run of five defeats in their last six matches, few would have predicted Ross County heading back up the A9 with all three points. But Jim McIntyre's men were more than worthy winners against a Hearts side who ended up playing the long ball game without much success.

County's winner came virtue of a huge error by Greek international Tziolis. It looked a simple task for the midfielder to clear a cross inside his own box, but he played the ball straight to Schalk, who took full advantage from 12 yards.

The visitors might have been ahead sooner, but Alan Muir waved away shouts for a penalty when Tim Chow went crashing to ground inside the Hearts box.

Disgruntled Jambos

Hearts have now failed to win in five matches, and a hammering from Edinburgh rivals Hibernian seven days ago intensified the disquiet among the Tynecastle faithful, angered by what they perceive to be a lack of fight from Ian Cathro's players.

Ian Cathro
Ian Cathro has won just three of his 15 games as Hearts head coach

And the home fans roundly jeered another lacklustre performance, and slapstick defending, against a Ross County team who were bidding for a first league win in the league since Hogmanay.

It was up front, though, where Cathro will be seeking a vast improvement. Apart from a first-half Arnaud Djoum curler that bounced off the bar - with Bjorn Johnsen blasting the rebound high into the Roseburn Stand - and Avlonitis' late effort, it was a relatively simple evening for the County rearguard.

County climb

The win will no doubt give County a huge lift as they strive to pull away from any relegation battle. Although they remain ninth, the Staggies are now five points clear of bottom club Inverness and three clear of Motherwell, who occupy the relegation play-off spot.

Cathro will be well aware of the discontent amongst the supporters. But more importantly, owner Ann Budge will not have enjoyed her evening in the Tynecastle directors' box, with fans were quick to voice their disapproval of recent displays. It's now just three wins in 15 matches for the Dundonian since he replaced Robbie Neilson in early December.

Ross County players celerate beating Hearts
The victory lifts Ross County into ninth place in the Premiership, five points clear of bottom club Inverness

Ross County manager Jim McIntyre: "The boys were fantastic, we worked our socks off to a man. I spoke before the game about the importance of scoring first - something we've not done for a number of weeks - and we should have had a stonewall penalty in the first half.

"It's as blatant a penalty as you'll see, and how the linesman, who is 10 yards away didn't see that, I can't understand for the life of me. Luckily for them it didn't come back to haunt us.

"Alex Schalk is a real threat - he was away home to Holland yesterday for his granddad's funeral, so it says so much for him that he's here and fighting for the cause, and it was great to see him get his goal."

Hearts head coach Ian Cathro: "Everyone knows we're in a difficult spot, and when you concede the goal, of course all those feelings come flooding back to you. We stayed fighting, we had chances, and it's important to show our appreciation that the fans are sticking with us, and in these situations that's the most important thing.

"There's no doubt about the team's fight and determination - those were rightly questioned a week ago. That was probably us hitting rock bottom (losing 3-1 to Hibernian). Tonight, those issues weren't there. Of course, it remains an unacceptable result. But I think the fans recognise that the team is pushing, and that we need to feel that support together. It's the only way we find the solutions.

"I'm confident that we'll win the next game. The focus is not about me in this moment. This has been a bad run of unacceptable results - i'm not too arrogant to focus on myself. I focus on my responsibility to lead us to find a solution for this situation."

Line-ups

Hearts

  • 1Hamilton
  • 27StrunaBooked at 16mins
  • 12Avlonitis
  • 19Nowak
  • 46Sowah
  • 15CowieSubstituted forMartinat 79'minutes
  • 4Tziolis
  • 11Nicholson
  • 10Sutchuin-Djoum
  • 16El OuriachiSubstituted forCurrieat 67'minutes
  • 20JohnsenSubstituted forNguene Bikeyat 77'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Rherras
  • 6Kitchen
  • 8Buaben
  • 13Noring
  • 23Nguene Bikey
  • 30Currie
  • 88Martin

Ross County

  • 1Fox
  • 15Davies
  • 5McEveleySubstituted forTumilityat 79'minutes
  • 28van der Weg
  • 3Naismith
  • 2Fraser
  • 8WoodsSubstituted forO'Brienat 69'minutes
  • 12ChowBooked at 15mins
  • 23SchalkSubstituted forGardyneat 82'minutes
  • 11Curran
  • 10BoyceBooked at 68mins

Substitutes

  • 6O'Brien
  • 7Gardyne
  • 9Dow
  • 27Lalkovic
  • 31McCarey
  • 52Tumility
  • 63Dykes
Referee:
Alan Muir
Attendance:
15,470

Match Stats

Home TeamHeartsAway TeamRoss County
Possession
Home58%
Away42%
Shots
Home15
Away10
Shots on Target
Home6
Away4
Corners
Home3
Away2
Fouls
Home15
Away13

Live Text

Match ends, Heart of Midlothian 0, Ross County 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Heart of Midlothian 0, Ross County 1.

Attempt saved. Rory Currie (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Liam Boyce (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Arnaud Djoum (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt missed. Dylan Nguene Bikey (Heart of Midlothian) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

Attempt blocked. Krystian Nowak (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Attempt blocked. Malaury Martin (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Foul by Malaury Martin (Heart of Midlothian).

Liam Boyce (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt saved. Malaury Martin (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Arnaud Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Liam Boyce (Ross County).

Substitution

Substitution, Ross County. Michael Gardyne replaces Alex Schalk.

Alexandros Tziolis (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Craig Curran (Ross County).

Attempt blocked. Tasos Avlonitis (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Tasos Avlonitis (Heart of Midlothian) hits the bar with a right footed shot from outside the box.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Reghan Tumility.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Reghan Tumility.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Malaury Martin replaces Don Cowie.

Substitution

Substitution, Ross County. Reghan Tumility replaces Jay McEveley because of an injury.

Delay in match Jay McEveley (Ross County) because of an injury.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Dylan Nguene Bikey replaces Bjorn Johnsen.

Attempt saved. Bjorn Johnsen (Heart of Midlothian) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Foul by Bjorn Johnsen (Heart of Midlothian).

Andrew Davies (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Delay in match Sam Nicholson (Heart of Midlothian) because of an injury.

Substitution

Substitution, Ross County. Jim O'Brien replaces Martin Woods because of an injury.

Delay in match Martin Woods (Ross County) because of an injury.

Booking

Liam Boyce (Ross County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Arnaud Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Liam Boyce (Ross County).

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Rory Currie replaces Moha.

Krystian Nowak (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Liam Boyce (Ross County).

Attempt saved. Jason Naismith (Ross County) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Attempt missed. Martin Woods (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

Foul by Bjorn Johnsen (Heart of Midlothian).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic27261073165779
2Aberdeen27164750242652
3Rangers2713773732546
4Hearts27108946351138
5St Johnstone27107103536-137
6Partick Thistle2788112932-332
7Dundee2786133137-630
8Kilmarnock26610102441-1728
9Ross County2769122945-1627
10Hamilton27412112639-1324
11Motherwell2666143053-2324
12Inverness CT27410133151-2022
View full Scottish Premiership table

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