Paul Heffernan scored twice as Kilmarnock eased to victory over Ross County at Rugby Park.

The striker, making his first start of the season after injury, touched home a free-kick on 66 minutes.

Gary Harkins then thumped in a fantastic strike from 20 yards to beat County keeper Michael Fraser, who had made a number of fine saves.

Heffernan completed the scoring with a first-time finish, steering home an astute pass from Cillian Sheridan.

After a week in which Kenny Shiels spat with referee Euan Norris and the SFA was back page news, the Kilmarnock manager will be pleased that it is his players who will grabbing the headlines after this result.

The ever-honest Shiels was still unhappy before the game with morning reports about his interaction with referees supervisor, John Fleming.

However, his mood will have changed after a game in which his side swept aside the visitors with a devastating three goals in 15 minutes spell after a fairly even first hour.

Shiels made five changes from the side that lost to Inverness Caley Thistle with youngsters McKeown, McKenzie and O'Hara, as well as Dayton and Johnson, dropping to the bench in what the manager described as a "non developmental" team designed to get Killie back on a winning run.

Paul Heffernan returned to the starting line-up for the first time in eight months alongside Gary Harkins, Jeroen Tesselaar, James Fowler and Borja Perez, with Heffernan and Harkins set to have a huge impact on proceedings.

The opening 45 minutes was full of good midfield play but little in the way of chances, although, two minutes before the interval, County's Rocco Quinn should really have done better with an opportunity which saw him take advantage of a slip in the Killie defence only to shoot wide when he should have tested Cammy Bell.

Youngster Steven Ross might also have done better with a 26th minute chance and Killie's Michael Nelson had a header cleared off the line.

However, the second half was dominated by the home side, and Michael Fraser in the visitors goal did well to save efforts from Cillian Sheridan and Heffernan before the deadlock was broken on 67 minutes.

Referee Bobby Madden awarded Killie a free-kick near the touchline and, from Perez's cross, Heffernan eluded his marker to head the ball past Fraser from eight yards for his first goal of the season.

Nine minutes later Harkins lit up the game with a terrific goal in which he ran from midfield, looked up and curled a wonderful 25-yard effort high past Fraser into the top right-hand corner of the goal.

Sheridan, who had linked superbly with Heffernan all game, then found the striker with a fine pass from midfield and the Killie star controlled the ball with his first touch and despatched it past Fraser from the edge of the box with his second eight minutes from time.

Lineup, Bookings (3) & Substitutions (4)

Kilmarnock

  • 01 Bell
  • 02 Tesselaar
  • 04 Fowler
  • 05 O'Leary
  • 06 Nelson Booked
  • 08 Kelly
  • 11 Harkins
  • 29 Pascali (O'Hara - 85' )
  • 12 Sheridan
  • 14 Heffernan
  • 15 Perez

Substitutes

  • 17 Letheren
  • 23 McKeown
  • 38 O'Hara
  • 88 Sissoko
  • 10 Dayton
  • 18 Johnson
  • 24 McKenzie

Ross County

  • 01 Fraser
  • 03 Fitzpatrick
  • 04 Munro
  • 05 Boyd
  • 22 Kovacevic Booked
  • 07 Kettlewell (McMenamin - 49' Booked )
  • 10 Brittain
  • 11 Vigurs
  • 12 Quinn (Glen - 81' )
  • 24 Ross (Cooper - 55' )
  • 29 Fotheringham

Substitutes

  • 25 Brown
  • 06 Tokely
  • 23 Macphee
  • 21 Cooper
  • 09 McMenamin
  • 17 Morrow
  • 20 Glen
Ref: Madden
Att: 4,012

Match Stats

Shots

11 6

On target

7 1

Corners

8 5

Fouls

7 4

Live Text Commentary

91:58 Full time

Full Time The referee ends the match.

90:00 +0:27

Defending throw-in by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock).

88:18 Booking

Booking Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County) booked for unsporting behaviour.

88:07

Foul by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County) on Gary Harkins (Kilmarnock). Free kick taken left-footed by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock) from left wing, resulting in open play.

86:37

Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) caught offside. Free kick taken right-footed by Grant Munro (Ross County) from own half, resulting in open play.

85:46

Inswinging corner from left by-line taken right-footed by Borja Perez (Kilmarnock) to centre, clearance by Iain Vigurs (Ross County).

84:33 Substitution

Substitution Mark O'Hara comes on in place of Manuel Pascali.

84:07 Booking

Booking Colin McMenamin (Ross County) booked for unsporting behaviour.

83:58 Booking

Booking Michael Nelson (Kilmarnock) booked for unsporting behaviour.

82:28

Foul by Michael Nelson (Kilmarnock) on Colin McMenamin (Ross County). Free kick taken left-footed by Iain Vigurs (Ross County) from left channel, passed.

81:27

Assist (cross) by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock) from left wing.

81:27 Goal scored

Goal! - Paul Heffernan - Kilmarnock 3 - 0 Ross Co Goal by Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) drilled right-footed (bottom-left of goal) from centre of penalty area (12 yards).Kilmarnock 3-0 Ross County.

80:02 Substitution

Substitution Ross County substitution: Rocco Quinn replaced by Gary Glen (tactical).

79:36

Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) caught offside. Free kick taken right-footed by Michael Fraser (Ross County) from own half, resulting in open play.

77:39

Defending throw-in by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock).

76:01 Goal scored

Goal! - Gary Harkins - Kilmarnock 2 - 0 Ross Co Goal by Gary Harkins (Kilmarnock) drilled right-footed (top-right of goal) from left channel (25 yards).Kilmarnock 2-0 Ross County.

75:46

Attacking throw-in by Marc Fitzpatrick (Ross County).

75:18

Goal kick taken long by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

75:04

Shot by Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) curled right-footed from centre of penalty area (18 yards), missed right.

73:18

Defending throw-in by James Fowler (Kilmarnock).

73:02

Attacking throw-in by Marc Fitzpatrick (Ross County).

72:13

Foul by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock) on Rocco Quinn (Ross County). Free kick crossed left-footed by Iain Vigurs (Ross County) from right wing, clearance by Michael Nelson (Kilmarnock).

71:39

Attacking throw-in by Marc Fitzpatrick (Ross County).

71:10

Inswinging corner from left by-line taken right-footed by Richard Brittain (Ross County) to centre, clearance by Michael Nelson (Kilmarnock).

70:46

Defending throw-in by James Fowler (Kilmarnock).

69:55

Attacking throw-in by James Fowler (Kilmarnock).

69:45

Attacking throw-in by James Fowler (Kilmarnock).

69:11

Goal kick taken long by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

68:27

Inswinging corner from left by-line taken right-footed by Borja Perez (Kilmarnock) to centre, clearance by Iain Vigurs (Ross County).

66:00 Goal scored

Goal! - Paul Heffernan - Kilmarnock 1 - 0 Ross Co Free kick scored by Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) Head (bottom-right of goal) from centre of penalty area (6 yards).Kilmarnock 1-0 Ross County.

65:44

Handball by Rocco Quinn (Ross County).

65:07

Attacking throw-in by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock).

61:33

Corner from left by-line taken short right-footed by Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock).

61:05

Goal kick taken long by Cameron Bell (Kilmarnock).

60:45

Shot by Rocco Quinn (Ross County) drilled left-footed from right channel (25 yards), missed right.

60:18

Attacking throw-in by James Fowler (Kilmarnock).

59:10

Corner from right by-line taken short left-footed by Iain Vigurs (Ross County). Clearance by Ryan O'Leary (Kilmarnock).

58:31

Attacking throw-in by Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock).

58:11

Defending throw-in by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock).

57:35

Foul by Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) on Grant Munro (Ross County). Free kick taken right-footed by Michael Fraser (Ross County) from own half, resulting in open play.

56:35

Inswinging corner from right by-line taken left-footed by Iain Vigurs (Ross County) to centre, clearance by Ryan O'Leary (Kilmarnock).

56:08

Defending throw-in by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).

55:09

Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) caught offside. Free kick taken right-footed by Scott Boyd (Ross County) from own half, resulting in open play.

54:40

Defending throw-in by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock).

54:01 Substitution

Substitution Ross County substitution: Steven Ross replaced by Alex Cooper (tactical).

52:18

Shot by Borja Perez (Kilmarnock) right-footed from centre of penalty area (12 yards), missed left. Goal kick taken long by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

52:00

Attacking throw-in by James Fowler (Kilmarnock).

51:40

Outswinging corner from right by-line taken right-footed by Borja Perez (Kilmarnock) to centre, clearance by Grant Munro (Ross County).

51:25

Shot by Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) volleyed right-footed from centre of penalty area (12 yards), save (caught) by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

51:11

Foul by Rocco Quinn (Ross County) on Borja Perez (Kilmarnock). Free kick taken right-footed by Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock) from left wing, resulting in open play.

51:02

Defending throw-in by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock).

50:36

Defending throw-in by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).

49:59

Steven Ross (Ross County) caught offside. Free kick taken right-footed by Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock) from own half, resulting in open play.

48:54

Defending throw-in by James Fowler (Kilmarnock).

48:23 Substitution

Substitution Ross County substitution: Stuart Kettlewell replaced by Colin McMenamin (injury).

47:27

Defending throw-in by James Fowler (Kilmarnock).

47:05

Goal kick taken long by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

46:26

Shot by Cillian Sheridan (Kilmarnock) curled right-footed from right channel (18 yards), save (caught) by Michael Fraser (Ross County). Outswinging corner from right by-line taken right-footed by Borja Perez (Kilmarnock) to centre, resulting in ball out of play.

46:07

Attacking throw-in by James Fowler (Kilmarnock).

45:22

Foul by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County) on Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock). Free kick crossed right-footed by Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) from left channel, clearance by Grant Munro (Ross County).

45:01

The match restarts for the second half.

45:00 +0:17 Half time

Half Time The first half comes to an end.

43:03

Defending throw-in by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).

42:33

Goal kick taken long by Cameron Bell (Kilmarnock).

42:19

Shot by Rocco Quinn (Ross County) drilled left-footed from centre of penalty area (12 yards), missed right.

41:13

Inswinging corner from right by-line taken left-footed by Iain Vigurs (Ross County) to centre, clearance by Michael Nelson (Kilmarnock).

40:12

Shot by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County) drilled left-footed from right channel (25 yards), save (caught) by Cameron Bell (Kilmarnock).

39:20

Attacking throw-in by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).

38:40

Attacking throw-in by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).

38:01

Goal kick taken long by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

36:05

Defending throw-in by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).

35:35

Foul by Richard Brittain (Ross County) on Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock). Free kick taken right-footed by Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock) from own half, resulting in open play.

35:03

Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) caught offside. Free kick taken right-footed by Michael Fraser (Ross County) from own half, resulting in open play.

34:10

Goal kick taken long by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

33:20

Attacking throw-in by James Fowler (Kilmarnock).

33:10

Attacking throw-in by Marc Fitzpatrick (Ross County).

32:05

Goal kick taken long by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

31:51

Shot by Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) right-footed from centre of penalty area (18 yards), missed right.

30:32

Goal kick taken long by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

28:50

Goal kick taken long by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

28:18

Shot by Borja Perez (Kilmarnock) drilled right-footed from left channel (25 yards), missed right.

27:56

Defending throw-in by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).

26:27

Inswinging corner from left by-line taken right-footed by Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) to centre, header by Michael Nelson (Kilmarnock) from right side of six-yard box (6 yards), save (caught) by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

24:27

Inswinging corner from left by-line taken right-footed by Richard Brittain (Ross County) to centre, save (caught) by Cameron Bell (Kilmarnock).

23:22

Foul by Michael Nelson (Kilmarnock) on Steven Ross (Ross County). Free kick curled right-footed by Richard Brittain (Ross County) from left channel (35+ yards), hit wall.

22:02

Attacking throw-in by Marc Fitzpatrick (Ross County).

20:53

Attacking throw-in by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).

19:35

Foul by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock) on Rocco Quinn (Ross County). Free kick taken right-footed by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County) from right wing, resulting in open play.

18:47

Goal kick taken long by Cameron Bell (Kilmarnock).

18:28

Shot by Rocco Quinn (Ross County) drilled right-footed from right channel (25 yards), missed left.

17:06

Goal kick taken long by Cameron Bell (Kilmarnock).

16:46

Header by Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County) from centre of penalty area (12 yards), over the bar.

15:28

Shot by Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) volleyed right-footed from centre of penalty area (18 yards), save (caught) by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

14:44

Mark Fotheringham (Ross County) caught offside. Free kick taken right-footed by Cameron Bell (Kilmarnock) from own half, resulting in open play.

14:28

Attacking throw-in by Marc Fitzpatrick (Ross County).

14:14

Attacking throw-in by Marc Fitzpatrick (Ross County).

13:21

Defending throw-in by Marc Fitzpatrick (Ross County).

11:51

Goal kick taken long by Cameron Bell (Kilmarnock).

11:18

Attacking throw-in by Marc Fitzpatrick (Ross County).

10:45

Goal kick taken long by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

9:09

Foul by Gary Harkins (Kilmarnock) on Stuart Kettlewell (Ross County). Free kick taken left-footed by Grant Munro (Ross County) from own half, resulting in open play.

8:25

Goal kick taken long by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

7:31

Attacking throw-in by Marc Fitzpatrick (Ross County).

6:55

Attacking throw-in by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).

3:25

Defending throw-in by James Fowler (Kilmarnock).

3:00

Foul by Cillian Sheridan (Kilmarnock) on Scott Boyd (Ross County). Free kick taken right-footed by Michael Fraser (Ross County) from own half, resulting in open play.

2:35

Outswinging corner from left by-line taken right-footed by Paul Heffernan (Kilmarnock) to near post, clearance by Marc Fitzpatrick (Ross County).

1:57

Attacking throw-in by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).

1:35

Defending throw-in by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).

1:02

Goal kick taken long by Michael Fraser (Ross County).

0:16

Outswinging corner from right by-line taken right-footed by Borja Perez (Kilmarnock) to centre, clearance by Grant Munro (Ross County).

0:00

The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.

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