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Staggies suffer cruel late Hibs defeat to exit Betfred Cup

Michael Gardyne equalised for Ross County.
Michael Gardyne equalised for Ross County.

Ross County suffered late Betfred Cup heartbreak as they suffered a cruel 3-2 defeat by Hibernian at Easter Road.

County had led on two separate occasions through Michael Gardyne and Josh Mullin, but the Championship side were quickly cancelled out by David Gray and Stevie Mallan.

With the game looking destined for extra-time, Daryl Horgan’s long-range strike one minute into stoppage time securing the victory for Neil Lennon’s men, who will now host Aberdeen in the quarter-finals next month.

County named the same side that defeated Dunfermline 3-1 in the Championship in midweek, having rung the changes for their IRN-BRU Cup victory over Hearts colts in midweek.

 

The Staggies started brightly, and stunned the home crowd by taking the lead after just 10 minutes. Josh Mullin’s corner was headed only partially clear by Efe Ambrose, landing with Gardyne whose deflected effort from 18 yards trickled into Ross Laidlaw’s bottom left corner.

Hibs were quickly rewarded with an equaliser five minutes later however, when Daryl Horgan’s delivery picked out the head of David Gray to nod home from six yards.

The home side grew into control of the remainder of the first half, with Staggies goalkeeper Scott Fox doing superbly to turn Martin Boyle’s effort around the post after the winger got the beating of Marcus Fraser.

County started the second half promisingly, with Iain Vigurs forcing an outstanding save from Laidlaw with a free kick on 52 minutes.

The Dingwall outfit were handed the opportunity to regain their lead on 63 minutes, when Declan McManus robbed Ambrose of possession before being felled by the Nigerian defender, with Mullin stepping up to hammer the spot kick powerfully past Laidlaw.

The Staggies once again relinquished their advantage within seven minutes however, with Mallan’s long-range strike beating Fox to restore parity.

With the match looking like going to extra-time, County were dealt a cruel blow in the first of four minutes of added time when Horgan cut on to his left foot before curling a strike into Fox’s bottom right corner.

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