Ross County missed the opportunity to take top spot in the SPFL Championship as they were held to a 1-1 draw with Queen of the South at the Global Energy Stadium in Dingwall this afternoon.
With Ayr United’s tie with Caley Thistle postponed last night The Staggies failed to take advantage and leapfrog The Honest Men to top spot in the Championship, however the Dingwall side did move within a point of the Ayrshire side.
County came into the match with one change from the side that defeated Alloa a week previous with Ross Stewart replacing Declan McManus who dropped to the bench.
Queen of the South made three changes from the side that beat Partick Thistle last week, cementing the Maryhill side to bottom place in the Championship.
Talisman Stephen Dobbie missed out for the Dumfries side after picking up a hamstring injury celebrating his winning goal last week, with Callum Semple, Adam Frizzell and David Norman coming into the side.
Gary Harkins missed out for the visitors with Queen of the South opting to name only five of the available seven substitute places with an on-going injury crisis hampering the available numbers for The Doonhamers.
After a cagey opening, Josh Todd sent a drive for the visitors over the crossbar after 7 minutes.
Ross Stewart sent in a tantalising cross for the home side shortly after, however, no takers were on hand to connect with the delivery.
Don Cowie’s corner after 19 minutes agonisingly dropped inside the 6 yard box but Ross Draper was unable to make contact and the ball was cleared by the Queens defence.
David Norman was the first in referee Mike Roncone’s book after 34 minutes following a late challenge on the County right.
Stellios Demetriou’s cross-cum-shot struck the post after 36 minutes with The Doonhamers defence clearing the danger from the resultant rebound.
A miscued header from Ross Stewart after 41 minutes fell favourably for Billy Mckay but his audacious overhead attempt crept narrowly wide of Alan Martin’s goal.
The sides went into the halftime interval with the tie level as neither side were able to break the deadlock in the opening period.
County went close after 50 minutes with the first major chance of the game as Josh Mullin’s well-struck shot following a Billy Mckay layoff was parried over by goalkeeper Martin in his first real test of the game.
The deadlock was broken after a long ball from Jamie Lindsay to Mckay was laid into the path of Mullin who needed no second invitation, sending the ball low into the bottom left hand corner of the Queen of the South goal after 55 minutes.
Keith Watson, the goal hero a week previous, produced heroics to block Adam Frizzels goalbound effort after 62 minutes keeping The Staggies in the lead.
The visitors introduced Andrew Stirling for David Norman as manager Gary Naysmith shuffled the pack to try and unlock the County defence.
The move paid dividends as Stirling netted the equaliser in the 71st minute, sending his shot into the right hand side of Fox’s goal after a neat lay off from attacker Dykes.
A goalmouth scramble seen the ball fall to Ross Draper inside the visitors 18 yard box, but the County midfielder was unable to make a clear connection and the danger was averted by the Queen of the South defence after 74 minutes.
Don Cowie made way for Michael Gardyne as co-managers Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson sought the goal that would propel County to top spot in the Championship table.
Watson produced further heorics putting his body on the line as he blocked clear scoring opportunity for Todd in the 80th minute.
McManus was introduced to the fold in the final 10 minutes with Ross Stewart making way for the attacker as County pushed for the elusive match winner.
In the 83rd minute Stirling showed great skill on the left hand side for the away side before cutting inside and sending a shot towards goal, but his effort sailed wide of Fox’s goal.
Gardyne sent in an inviting cross across the six-yard box in the final minutes, however no County player was able to capitalise on the chance.
Dykes went close with a header late on before McManus squandered a golden opportunity as the onrushing Martin blocked his drive from 12 yards out.
The elusive goal was not to be found for County as The Staggies move within a point of Ayr United, keeping a grip of second place in the SPFL Championship.
Co-manager Stuart Kettlewell described the result as a “huge opportunity missed”.
Next up for The Staggies is a top of the table clash with leaders Ayr at Somerset Park next Saturday.