County were handed a massive dose of good fortune, but ultimately deserved their point against the Premiership champions.
The three points were heading to Glasgow until this match exploded into controversy in the final minute, when referee Don Robertson pointed to the spot when County substitute Alex Schalk went to ground under no contact from Celtic defender Erik Sviatchenko.
The Dutchman will face a knock on the door from the compliance officer and a ban will likely follow, however it would have been harsh on County had they failed to take something from the match given the determination shown in response to going a goal down through Kieran Tierney’s opener.
Michael Gardyne levelled six minutes later and the Staggies showed no shortage of belief, but it looked like they would have nothing to show for their efforts after Patrick Roberts netted for the Hoops 12 minutes from time. Schalk’s act, from which Liam Boyce netted the leveller, led to the Dingwall men salvaging a point, but Celtic captain Scott Brown was then sent off for a horrendous challenge on Boyce which will lead to a suspension, although when his fate will be decided due to the Easter holidays.
It is only the fourth time Brendan Rodgers’ men have dropped points this season and it could be a huge point in County’s bid for Premiership survival.
There were two changes from the side that drew 1-1 at Hamilton the previous weekend.
Martin Woods was ruled out through suspension and Craig Curran dropped to the bench, making way for Jim O’Brien and 20-year-old Reghan Tumilty, who made his first start.
Celtic took command of possession from the offset, but struggled to break down a well-organised Staggies defence to create scoring opportunities, with their first effort of note coming on 17 minutes when Scott Fox did well to hold Tierney’s long-range shot. The game finally burst into action on 34 minutes when the visitors took a sublime lead, with no denying Tierney this time.
The left back collected the ball on the left edge of the penalty box, with the Staggies’ defence left to look and watch as his unstoppable low shot rifled into Fox’s bottom corner.
A deserved goal on the balance of play despite the game’s lack of chances, however County hit the front foot from the start of the second half and were rewarded with an equaliser just six minutes after the break.
Ryan Dow swivelled an excellent cross in from the left which picked out the head of Gardyne, who
bulleted the ball home off the underside of the crossbar.
It was the Staggies’ record goal-scorer’s first goal of the season, but well worth the wait.
Game on. The Hoops looked rattled, as County caused further problems from set-pieces, with Davies forcing a save from Craig Gordon after getting on the end of Jim O’Brien’s delivery.
County put so much into the second-half but they looked set to be consigned to defeat on 78 minutes, as substitute Roberts showed wonderful footwork to nutmeg Tim Chow before slotting a low shot underneath both Marcus Fraser and goalkeeper Fox.
Celtic midfielder Stuart Armstrong could have wrapped the points up when his free kick rattled the top of the crossbar, but County were not finished, although referee Robertson had a massive role to play in their late rally.
Boyce shrugged off all the controversy to calmly roll home from the spot, before the Northern Irishman was hacked down by Brown in the dying seconds to provide a spicy conclusion.