By: Hibernian Media on 26 Oct, 2019 18:25
Ross County staged a late comeback to snatch a 2-2 draw with Hibernian on Saturday afternoon at Easter Road Stadium, writes Richard Payne.
The hosts dominated for long spells of the match and appeared on course to collect their first league victory since the opening day of the campaign before the Highlanders hit back.
Goals from Daryl Horgan and Scott Allan saw Hibernian deservedly lead 2-0 before Brian Graham gave the visitors hope with 16 minutes remaining and Joe Chalmers stuck in the dying embers to snatch a point for his side.
Paul Heckingbottom made three changes to the side held to a draw last weekend at Hamilton.
Florian Kamberi returned to the starting XI at the expense of the injured Christian Doidge, Allan replaced Horgan and Jason Naismith slotted in at right back ahead of Tom James.
The home side started brightly and came close to an early breakthrough when Melker Hallberg’s powerful free-kick had the beating of Ross Laidlaw only to crash back into play off the crossbar.
Naismith almost netted a first goal for Hibernian soon after when Joe Newell’s cross was flicked on by Kamberi into the path of the sliding defender, however he was always stretching to make contact and could only hook his effort over the bar.
Little had been seen of the visitors as an attacking threat yet, in 22 minutes, Michael Gardyne advanced to the edge of the home penalty box before dragging his shot just wide of goal.
Hibernian were soon on the attack once again and a clever one-two between Kamberi and Allan allowed the Swiss striker to get a shot away that Laidlaw did well to beat away at his near post.
Former Hibs goalkeeper Laidlaw was again called into action to keep out a Stevie Mallan free-kick as the home side continued to push for an opener.
At the other end Chris Maxwell was called into his first action of note in the 33rd minute when Marcus Fraser let fly with a strike from the edge of the box that the Welsh keeper held comfortably.
Hibernian finished the first period on top with Laidlaw called into action to push a John Vela shot round his near post before again denying Mallan from a dead ball.
Heckingbottom replaced Hallberg with Horgan at the interval and the winger made an immediate impression by racing through on goal after collecting a through ball from Naismith and drilling a low finish beyond Laidlaw.
Six minutes later Allan doubled Hibernian’s lead when he peeled off the left flank and produced a fine reverse right foot finish to find the net from 20 yards.
The hosts almost added a third soon after when Kamberi’s shot was deflected against the County post.
Hibernian were dominant, however, the introduction of former Hibee Graham brought new life to County’s play.
In the 67th minute Sean Kelly’s free-kick was flicked on and Billy McKay surprisingly poked the ball wide from close range with the goal at his mercy.
A County goal was only delayed a matter of moments as Graham curled an exquisite finish beyond Maxwell to give hope to the 229 away supporters.
The former Hibernian striker should have scored again within a minute of the restart when Kelly picked him out, unmarked and only six yards from goal, however he could only head wide with the goal at his mercy.
With one minute of time remaining County stunned Easter Road and got the goal their play deserved as substitute Chalmers rifled a low finish into the corner of the net to give Maxwell no chance.
Hibernian: Maxwell, Hanlon, Vela, Newell (Murray 80’), Mallan, Stevenson, Hallberg (Horgan 46’), Naismith, Kamberi, Allan (Jackson 86’), Porteous. Unused Substitutes: Marciano, James, Middleton, Shaw.
Ross County: Laidlaw, Fraser, Kelly, Fontaine, Draper, Gardyne, Mckay, Watson, Spence (Chalmers 72’), Henderson (Graham 63’), Foster (Mullin 72’). Unused Substitutes: Dixon-Hodge, Grivosti, Spittal, Paton.
Referee: Steven McLean.