Ross County keep pace with Championship leaders Ayr with 2-0 win over Partick Thistle

Josh Mullin celebrates opening the scoring for Ross County.
Josh Mullin celebrates opening the scoring for Ross County.

Ross County kept pace with Championship leaders Ayr as they ran out comfortable 2-0 winners over Partick Thistle.

Josh Mullin and Billy Mckay struck either side of half-time to put County in a position they would not relinquish, as they extended their unbeaten run to six games.

The only blot on the day for the Staggies was a late red card for Ross Draper, who picked up his second booking in added time.

County started Davis Keillor-Dunn in place of the injured Michael Gardyne, whose absence with a broken foot was the only change from the team that thrashed Dundee United a week ago.

These two sides last met in Dingwall amid a fraught relegation battle at the end of last season, with County hitting four past Alan Archibald’s side to give themselves a shot in the arm. However, Thistle got over the line to avoid automatic relegation, only to tumble into the Championship after a play-off defeat to Livingston.

Thistle handed a first league start to goalkeeper Jamie Sneddon and he had to be alert to deny Billy Mckay, after Iain Vigurs’ slide-rule ball. Jamie Lindsay was first to the rebound but James Penrice had back-tracked on to the line to clear.

The lead came on 14 minutes through Mullin, who had outstripped the Thistle defence but saw his initial attempt blocked. He got a stroke of fortune when the ball broke to him again, allowing him to slide the ball under Sneddon.

Partick had forays into the final third but struggled to force their ex-goalkeeper Scott Fox into any meaningful saves. County, meanwhile, were getting chances to add to their lead at the other end, with Vigurs whistling a free-kick wide seven minutes before the break.

Chris Erskine had Fox scrambling with a wobbling effort from 30 yards that the Staggies stopper spooned round the post.

But there was little to shout about for the home side and the visitors doubled their advantage on 56 minutes. Mullin’s right-wing cross was met by Ross Draper at the back post and his header was blocked by the arm of Niall Keown. Nick Walsh pointed straight to the spot, with Mckay sending Sneddon the wrong way.

They had established a position of dominance and were happy to hold what they had, with Thistle unable to offer much in the way of a goal threat.

They did, however, get a brief man advantage in stoppage-time when Draper was dismissed for his second booking after a foul on Stuart Bannigan.

Victory kept County within two points of current leaders Ayr United, who continued their impressive start to the campaign with a win over Dundee United.