Scottish Premiership
HeartsHeart of Midlothian0Ross CountyRoss County1

Heart of Midlothian 0-1 Ross County

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland at Tynecastle
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."



Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 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


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

Ross County

Formation 3-5-2

  • 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


  • 6O'Brien
  • 7Gardyne
  • 9Dow
  • 27Lalkovic
  • 31McCarey
  • 52Tumility
  • 63Dykes
Alan Muir

Match Stats

Home TeamHeartsAway TeamRoss County
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

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

  2. Full Time

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

  3. Post update

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

  4. Post update

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

  5. Post update

    Foul by Arnaud Djoum (Heart of Midlothian).

  6. Post update

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

  7. Post update

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

  8. Post update

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

  9. Post update

    Foul by Malaury Martin (Heart of Midlothian).

  10. Post update

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

  11. Post update

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

  12. Post update

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

  13. Post update

    Foul by Liam Boyce (Ross County).

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Ross County. Michael Gardyne replaces Alex Schalk.

  15. Post update

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

  16. Post update

    Foul by Craig Curran (Ross County).

  17. Post update

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

  18. Post update

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

  19. Post update

    Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Reghan Tumility.

  20. Post update

    Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Reghan Tumility.

As It Stood

5St Johnstone27107103536-137
6Partick Thistle2788112932-332
9Ross County2769122945-1627
12Inverness CT27410133151-2022
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