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Last-gasp double drama sees Ross County deny Aberdeen win in 1-1 Premiership draw

William Akio nets to secure Ross County a 1-1 draw with Aberdeen in stoppage-time.
William Akio nets to secure Ross County a 1-1 draw with Aberdeen in stoppage-time.

Ross County grabbed a last-gasp 1-1 draw at home to Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership – when it seemed a late strike had sealed a precious result on the road for the Dons.

Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes crashed an 88th-minute rocket to put them on the brink of three points, but fellow sub William Akio, back from injury in only his second appearance, popped up with the stoppage-time equaliser.

It was a result which nudged the Dons up to third and County to 10th, both on goal difference.

The hosts had just come through a demanding schedule, including losing 4-0 against Rangers at Ibrox in the league and 4-1 against Celtic in the Premier Sports Cup in midweek.

The Highlanders, unbeaten in their last four matches against the Dons, had one of their best moments of last season when April’s 1-0 Pittodrie victory secured top-six football for Malky Mackay’s team.

They kicked off the afternoon second from bottom, with only their recent 1-0 home win over Kilmarnock to show for their efforts.

Aberdeen fans made themselves heard at the Global Energy Stadium.

Aberdeen, since losing 3-2 in the league against Motherwell in mid-August, racked up victories over St Johnstone and Livingston to move fourth.

On Tuesday, they were taken to extra-time at League Two hosts Annan Athletic before roaring away with a 4-1 win to line up a last eight home tie against Championship high-flyers Partick Thistle.

If Aberdeen want to be back at the business end of the division come April they must address their results on the road.

Over the past 13 months, two wins at St Johnstone has been the sum total of league victories away from Pittodrie.

Coming away from difficult Dingwall, therefore, with three points on board would have been a positive step forward.

Hosts welcome back starting trio

Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin made three changes from that Galabank clash, with Hayden Coulson coming in for Jack MacKenzie, Jonny Hayes for Matty Kennedy and on-loan Liverpool hot-shot Leighton Clarkson getting the nod ahead of

Malky Mackay welcomed back defender Jack Baldwin and midfielders Ross Callachan and Yan Dhanda from suspension.

Keith Watson and Josh Sims were subs, with George Harmon ruled out with a hamstring injury suffered against Celtic.

Goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw was back in for Jake Eastwood, with striker Jordy Hiwula in for Dominic Samuel and David Cancola replacing Victor Loturi from the start.

Ross County’s Jordan White (left) and Aberdeen’s Hayden Coulson.

Aberdeen had a shot on target in under three minutes when former Inverness and Celtic ace Jonny Hayes had a pop from 30 yards and Laidlaw got enough on it to turn it around the post.

A counter-attack move, stemming from a cleared County corner, led to Vicente Besuijen bearing down on goal, but the number 10’s strike was blocked by Laidlaw.

The hosts responded when Jordan Tillson forced a relatively comfortable save from Kelle Roos after Ben Purrington teed him up for an attempt at the edge of the box.

The Reds were carrying most of the attacking intent, but Mackay’s men were largely keeping them at arm’s length, while looking for a way to impose their own game on their opponents.

For much of the first half, there was a lack of verve to the match, and it all seemed to trundle towards the interval after a lively opening.

Aberdeen’s Vicente Besuijen draws a save from Ross County goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw.

Akio makes return from home bench

Mackay introduced Akio for Hiwula and Kazeem Olaigbe for Dhanda at the start of the second half in order to shake it up at the top end of the park.

This was Akio’s comeback game, having suffered a knee injury in his July debut in a 7-0 rout of East Fife in the Premier Sports Cup.

However , it was Aberdeen who were knocking at the door at times, with a Richardson delivery flying right out of play summing up what was becoming a frustrating afternoon for the visitors.

There was an incident just before the hour mark which angered Mackay when Clarkson was booked for a foul on Callum Johnson, which saw the full-back floored. The County boss felt that moment merited a red card.

Aberdeen’s Luis Lopes crashes home his wonderful opener against Ross County.

With 10 minutes to go, home midfielder Callachan went for goal, steering a low 25-yarder to the left of the post in front of the Jailend.

However, what looked like the winner arrived on 88 minutes when sub Kennedy, who had just gone close himself, played the ball out to Hayes.

The winger whipped his cross in from the left and Lopes superbly controlled the ball with his back to goal, turned and rifled it high into the net after flicking it into the air.

There was still time for more drama though as Akio arrived in the box from a corner not cleared to guide home a leveller with a close-range shot, which was the final act before the referee’s whistle.

Next Saturday, Aberdeen host Rangers, while County welcome Motherwell to the Global Energy Stadium.

ROSS COUNTY (4-2-3-1) – Laidlaw 6, Purrington 7, Cancola 6 (Edwards 70), Baldwin 7, Iacovitti 6, Callachan 7, Dhanda 6 (Olaigbe 46), Johnson 6, Hiwula 6 (Akio 46), Tillson 6, White 6. Subs not used – Eastwood (GK), Samuel, Sims, Loturi, Watson, Paton.

ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1) – Roos 6, McCrorie 6, Scales 6, Stewart 7, Miovski 6, Besuijen 6 (Morris 71), Ramadani 6, Hayes 6, Clarkson 7 (Lopes 67), Coulson 7 (Kennedy 85), Richardson 6. Subs not used – Lewis (GK), MacKenzie, Watkins, Polvara, Duncan, Milne

Referee – Kevin Clancy.

Attendance – 5,210.

Man of the match – Jack Baldwin.