Scottish Premiership
Hearts0Ross County0

Hearts 0-0 Ross County: Graham misses penalty for visitors

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Highlights: Hearts 0-0 Ross County

Brian Graham missed a late penalty but Ross County still maintained an unbeaten start to their Premiership return with a draw away to Hearts.The newly-promoted visitors dominated on a patchy Tynecastle pitch, which hosted the opening to the Edinburgh Festival a week earlier.

Graham's spot-kick struck a post and Michael Gardyne's follow up also hit the woodwork for a profligate County.

But the draw means they have taken four points from their opening two games.

Hearts, meanwhile, have just one point from their first two fixtures and are without a win in nine league games stretching back to last season.

And they have further cause for concern after key player Steven Naismith was forced off at half time with a tight hamstring.

County's front four show up Hearts' struggles

The story pre-match focussed on the state of the Tynecastle pitch after it hosted a concert eight days ago to mark the opening of the Edinburgh Festival. But it did little to slow the pace or dampen the entertainment.

County's emphatic win against Hamilton last week suggested they will take to the Premiership this season with minimal fuss, and their performance against a Hearts team who will be hoping for a top-four finish only served to underline the point.

The dynamism of Josh Mullin down the right and Gardyne on the left set the tempo for them, and the only criticism they could fairly shoulder was their wastefulness. Graham's spurned spot-kick was the peak of their profligacy, but the substitute striker was not alone.

Mullin passed up several opportunities and Gardyne fired a first-time volley narrowly over, as well as striking the woodwork twice - once with a cross and also with the rebound from Graham's penalty. Ross Stewart impressed with his general play but also lacked a killer touch as he hooked one close-range effort wide and side-footed over the bar when clean through.

Nevertheless County's attacking four demonstrated how they can be a handful for any team in the Premiership this season, and it showed up Hearts' lack of attacking fluency.

Starting in a 4-4-2 with Steven Naismith playing off the left, they struggled to create chances, Conor Washington having the best of them early in the first half as he twice forced Ross Laidlaw into good saves after making clever runs off the shoulder of County's defence.

Naismith was withdrawn at half-time after an uncharacteristically quiet game, no doubt due to his tight hamstring. On came Jake Mulraney, a more natural winger, but his contribution could not match those of County's wide men, and Jamie Walker's move from the right into the number 10 position made little impact.

Given the players Craig Levein now has at his disposal in attack, he will hope for better once they bed in further, and the Hearts fans will demand it as they made their feelings clear at full-time.

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Man of the match - Josh Mullin

BBC Scotland's Brian McLauchlin at Tynecastle

When you look at any goalless draw, your eyes are immediately drawn to the defenders on the pitch who have managed to keep their goal intact. However, it was only down to poor finishing by County's strikers that the home side kept a clean sheet.

The County central midfield pair of Iain Vigurs and Ross Draper won their respective battles but it was Mullin who stole the show. Although he too passed up golden opportunities, he was a real thorn in the side of the home defence and gave Hearts debutant Aidy White a torrid afternoon.

'A sense of frustration' - reaction

Hearts manager Craig Levein: "We were second best all over the park and on another day we'd have lost the match. I thought our defending was poor today, we created a lot of problems for ourselves.

"Then when we did defend well we couldn't control the ball in midfield and when we did that we did nothing with it in the forward areas."

Ross County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell: "There's a real sense of frustration - but a massive pat on the back for the players. They were really composed on the ball and battled well when they needed to.

"That's four points from the first two matches and when we play like that we showed we are a difficult team to beat."

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We deserved to beat Hearts - County's Kettlewell

Line-ups

Hearts

  • 1Zlamal
  • 2Smith
  • 26Halkett
  • 6Berra
  • 3White
  • 10Walker
  • 8Clare
  • 22DamourSubstituted forBozanicat 73'minutes
  • 14NaismithSubstituted forMulraneyat 45'minutes
  • 9Washington
  • 19IkpeazuSubstituted forHendersonat 62'minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Bozanic
  • 11Mulraney
  • 13Doyle
  • 28Dikamona
  • 35Keena
  • 40Irving
  • 41Henderson

Ross County

  • 1Laidlaw
  • 2Fraser
  • 5MorrisBooked at 45mins
  • 4Fontaine
  • 3KellyBooked at 73mins
  • 14Mullin
  • 6Draper
  • 11VigursSubstituted forSpittalat 66'minutesBooked at 87mins
  • 7Gardyne
  • 27Stewart
  • 9MckaySubstituted forGrahamat 76'minutes

Substitutes

  • 12Grivosti
  • 15Watson
  • 19Graham
  • 20Spittal
  • 24Paton
  • 25Ruddy
  • 36Gallagher
Referee:
Alan Muir
Attendance:
15,652

Match Stats

Home TeamHeartsAway TeamRoss County
Possession
Home50%
Away50%
Shots
Home7
Away15
Shots on Target
Home2
Away3
Corners
Home8
Away6
Fouls
Home14
Away11

Live Text

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

Full Time

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

Foul by Ross Draper (Ross County).

Jake Mulraney (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Booking

Blair Spittal (Ross County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Blair Spittal (Ross County).

Attempt missed. Michael Gardyne (Ross County) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

Penalty missed! Still Heart of Midlothian 0, Ross County 0. Brian Graham (Ross County) hits the left post with a right footed shot.

Penalty Ross County. Marcus Fraser draws a foul in the penalty area.

Penalty conceded by Aidan White (Heart of Midlothian) after a foul in the penalty area.

Euan Henderson (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Blair Spittal (Ross County).

Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Oliver Bozanic.

Attempt blocked. Josh Mullin (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, Ross County. Brian Graham replaces Billy Mckay.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Marcus Fraser.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Oliver Bozanic replaces Loïc Damour because of an injury.

Booking

Sean Kelly (Ross County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Conor Washington (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Sean Kelly (Ross County).

Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Aidan White.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Liam Fontaine.

Attempt missed. Ross Stewart (Ross County) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

Foul by Loïc Damour (Heart of Midlothian).

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

Foul by Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian).

Michael Gardyne (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Ross County. Blair Spittal replaces Iain Vigurs because of an injury.

Foul by Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian).

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

Loïc Damour (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Josh Mullin (Ross County).

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Euan Henderson replaces Uche Ikpeazu.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Marcus Fraser.

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

Attempt saved. Ross Stewart (Ross County) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Uche Ikpeazu (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Sean Kelly (Ross County).

Michael Gardyne (Ross County) hits the right post with a right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic2200122106
2Ross County21103034
3Aberdeen11003213
4Rangers11002113
5Hibernian11001013
6Hamilton210123-13
7Livingston20202202
8Hearts201123-11
9Motherwell201125-31
10St Johnstone201129-71
11St Mirren100101-10
12Kilmarnock200214-30
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